International student recruitment agents play a critical role in enabling over 80% of international students to enrol at Australian universities and drive critically important student revenue.
Without recruitment agents, Australia’s higher education sector would literally grind to a halt, but what do you really know about how agents are representing your institution?
Are you doing enough to avoid the repetitional damage unscrupulous
agent actions could cause?
A recent parliamentary inquiry in Australia has rightly raised concerns that recruitment agents act without supervision and in so doing pose a significant risk to the reputation of Australia’s higher education institutions. That’s because there is currently a gap in the agent management process, where compliance to the strict codes of conduct goes unchecked and institutions have to trust that their agents are acting appropriately.
Re-engineering a best practice customer experience research tool from service categories, MacMORGAN has developed a new research service to mystery shop off-shore agents to understand for the first time what is really said in an agent’s counselling session to prospective students.
Recent agent mystery shopping studies by MacMORGAN have revealed that 70% of a university's agents were recommending a competitor over the university to prospective students, contrary to the university's expectations.
Given the majority of agents are not recommending institutions to the level they expect, the question needs to be asked, what other expectations are not being met?
Hoping your agents comply with your code of conduct is not a reliable strategy.
Most higher education institutions follow a 2-step process to reduce the potential risk that using agents presents;
Set clear exceptions via codes of conduct for agents, reference check and train agents.
React to negative feedback from students and periodic performance reviews (e.g. applications, offer acceptances, enrolments).
But there is a 3rd step missing from this process.
The use of third party agents to improve new customer acquisition is not a business model unique to Australian higher education institutes. All over the world, finance, insurance and real estate organisations openly use mystery shopper programs to check that their agent expectations are being met, with a secondary benefit that when agents know they are being monitored they try harder and take fewer risks.
Undertaking a pro-active program of agent mystery shopping research, enables organisations to understand what happens in student counselling sessions throughout the year, checking for compliance to codes of conduct, agent recommendation, proof point communication and competitor activity.
To learn more about our agent mystery shopping research, and how we can help you ensure your agents are complying to your code of conduct, contact me today!
John Chatterton works collaboratively with organisations to develop tailored growth solutions using cross-category learnings.
Transforming organisations from product push to customer pull by placing customers at the heart of the decision making process and building brands tha tresonte with their target market and engage in a personalised way.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org