ASQA’s five key phases of the Student Experience

You never need to fear an audit. The customer experience benchmarks that your RTO business success becomes framed on, are the ASQA benchmarks used to regulate the industry.

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One of the first steps in creating a strategic sales & marketing framework is to map the customer journey.

Recently, we were working with Edutemps, a leading staff resource provider for the vocational education sector. As we researched a marketing program to support registered training organisations (RTO’s), we were surprised to find that the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) also map the customer journey. They use the student experience as the quality standards benchmark, to audit the vocational education sector.

We believe that ASQA’s 2017 Audit Model potentially offers ideal pillars, for RTO sales and marketing best practice. The ASQA Fact Sheet states:

“your audit will be structured around your practices and behaviours in relation to five key phases of the student experience—marketing and recruitment; enrolment; support and progression; training and assessment; and completion”

To be clear, no business looks forward to an audit. However, ASQA’s audit process follows the same process that anyone should follow, to be successful in business. ASQA’s five key phases of the student experience, essentially mirror the sales life-cycle: acquisition, purchase decision, onboarding and induction, service delivery, and retention/completion.

Further, the ASQA process will; “seek to gather input to any audit, from current and former students via interviews, focus groups and surveys”. What a bonus! These are the same tools marketers use, to uncover new opportunities to improve products and increase sales. For vocational education and training institutions, using ASQA’s five key phases of the student experience, as the pillars for your marketing program, is smart for two reasons:

First, you never need to fear an audit. The customer experience benchmarks that your business success becomes framed on, are the same benchmarks used by the Australian Skills Quality Authority, to regulate the industry.

Second, having a quality brand framework, designed from the outside in, based on the customer’s perspective and experience, ultimately strengthens your business. Let’s face it, your business is being audited by customers every day, looking for answers to the same questions.

The fact is of course, that you invest heavily to attract customer audits. As they look over your business, their assessment is heavily biased. In the VET sector, they are evaluating your institution, against the dreams and expectations they hold for their future – as well as against the best alternate option they can uncover. These are the audits that really make or break a business.

Neck deep in the day-to-day, we become moulded to our own perspective and challenges. Changes in requirements and the recent introduction of VET Student Loans, is having a significant impact on many RTO’s. It is easy to forget however, that this new environment also represents a different education and career proposition for students.

You may not have recently gone through the process of reviewing study options, applying for a student loan and enrolling in a course. However, having a strong understanding of your students’ journey and experience, now plays a key role in meeting the regulatory obligations of an RTO.

Perhaps this offers an opportunity to re-calibrate. What flew last year, might not remain as your most lucrative opportunity. Having a strong understanding your students’ perspective, might point to gaps and opportunities that should be acted on.

To use an education analogy, if you are going to be examined on your students’ journey, it makes sense to ensure that a comprehensive study (marketing) framework is in place, fine-tuned to support and reflect the required outcomes, that being a gold-standard student experience through each milestone.

A bespoke Customer Journey Map, is drawn from your company’s brand presence and digital footprint, it is just one element in CompanyHQ’s 20 page Strategic Sales & Marketing Framework. It offers clients both a brand stock-take and a detailed strategic plan, around which appropriate, skilled resources may be deployed.

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