Recommendations from other parents are one of the key reasons for international schools getting into the consideration set of parents. Parent surveys, such as those run by BVA BDRC, can inform a school in what areas they are satisfying parents, but what really drives recommendations is the more memorable experiences parents have with schools.
The BVA BDRC approach to customer experience (CX) research has been applied to the international school market in Singapore using our EPIC model. This model comprises four drivers which, singularly or jointly, make it possible to activate positive peaks throughout the customer experience journey. These drivers are Elevation, Pride, Insight, and Connection.
In the international school market, there is a strong correlation between the propensity of a parent to recommend a school and how much parents agree that the school creates positive and unexpected experiences. Subsequently, these experiences make parents proud, deliver inspirational learning, and give the parent and child a sense of belonging.
The difference between Promoters (those giving a score of 9 or 10 out of 10 on likelihood to recommend the school) and Detractors (scoring 1–6) is most notable within schooling. Among Detractors, 48% of parents state that their school delivers none or only one of four EPIC experiences, and only 12% state they deliver all four. In contrast, 71% of Promoters of schools state the school delivers all four EPIC experiences, with 100% stating that it delivers at least one.
In Singapore, there is a wide range of international schools catering for different budgets. ‘Premium’ schools, which are priced at over S$40,000 in fees per annum, include leading names such as UWC, Tanglin Trust, Dulwich, Australian International, Singapore American, and Stamford American – which all have large student bodies. However, there is a growing segment of ‘budget’ schools offering international curricula and servicing parents on tighter budgets, with annual fees that are less than S$25,000. There is also a large cohort of ‘mid-price’ schools operating within these price ranges.
Our analysis finds that premium-priced schools have a slightly higher Net Promoter Score, although not significantly so, and there is almost no difference between budget and mid-price schools.
There is little difference between the number of EPIC experiences budget and premium schools deliver to parents. 73% of parents attending budget schools state the school delivers at least three or four EPIC experiences, vs 72% for mid-priced and 78% for premium schools.
The premium-priced schools can deliver more intense EPIC experiences, with a higher proportion of parents ‘strongly agreeing’ in several areas. This is most noticeable for making the parent feel proud, valued, or special – this can perhaps be the effect of sending children to some of the most exclusive schools, which is reflected in the price premiums that the parents are paying.
The budget schools close the gap in terms of making the parent feel they are part of a community. Sometimes the budget schools cater for parents in similar situations, e.g. under budget pressure, and in some respects can get more involved in these schools in making them a success if they do not have as many resources as the premium schools to call upon.
By analysing more emotive factors and going beyond the more basic measures within parent satisfaction surveys, BVA BDRC provides schools with real insights and guidance into what drives advocacy for schools.