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Maintaining RTO quality is central to ensuring a sustainable, profitable and successful business.
As an RTO consultant, I have worked with clients on compliance, systems and development of e-learning and have seen time and time again that the implementation and roll out of a new system, or the addition of a new course becomes front and centre - whilst other areas are pushed to the side.
The student experience is the largest area that I see this occurring.
I don’t think that any RTO does this intentionally, it is usually just a by-product of increasing government and administrative burden. We are so busy shuffling papers and ticking boxes for the regulator that we forget who our clients are. Our clients are not the various regulators, we are not in business to satisfy them alone. Our purpose is to help impart skills and knowledge to learners.
Luckily, it is easy to refocus. Here are four key steps RTOs can take to shift focus onto the student experience.
Recently I met with a CEO of a large RTO, he had run the business for many years and didn’t have day to day contact with students as he had many staff and managers to do this. Over lunch, we discussed how the rollout of a newly improved course was going. He said that he thought it was doing well but had no idea how the students were finding the transition. They had sent out student surveys via multiple avenues but had received very little feedback. I suggested calling a sample and asking them. He did this and reported back that talking to 5 on the phone was life-changing. He stopped focusing on the efficiencies of the business alone and what he thought the students needed, and instead shifted to asking the students their issues and focusing on resolving those.
Whilst RTO Managers and CEOs may have once upon a time been the target student cohort, chances are they are now older and somewhat out of touch with what your students really want. The pressures and demands of today's students are different than they were even 5 years ago. Engaging a current or graduate student to be part of your management meetings, planning sessions or as a key stakeholder to discuss plans with can really ensure you are getting the messages, marketing and delivery right.
Yes, it’s a known fact that gen y and millennial students like lots of feedback, really fast. If you can keep this in mind when developing training programs or setting up trainer’s schedules, it will keep your students satisfied.
Many CRMs, SMSs and LMSs have automation sequences you can build. aXcelerate as an example has an amazing workflow function that can be programmed to send personalized emails to your students at different times in their lifecycle. This can assist with managing multiple classes, intake dates and courses. Set up a sequence of what information students will need at each stage in their course and program it. Students will receive the email at the right time and have no idea that it was “Set and forget”.
Don’t let your student experience falter under the pressure of your other RTO responsibilities. Make sure to engage one on one with at least a few students to gain true insight into their experience. If you’re too busy, hire a student representative to do it for you. Ensure to provide timely feedback. And last but definitely not least, personalise your message and automate it along each stage of your students' experience.
About the author: Tania Gomez is Director of Strawberry Solutions, a boutique consulting firm offering VET, NDIS, business, and transnational solutions to training providers and disability services. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.