Businesses who provided services for customers’ children have a very unique relationship with customers as compared to any other industry. Even within the industry as a whole, there are many different expectations of the different types of children’s services and extracurricular programs. In the spirit of our best practices benchmark and finding out what makes customers tick, we put together some valuable industry-specific data to get you thinking about retention and customer experience.

We analyzed over 138,000 customer responses to NPS surveys to find out what is most important to customer experience in the child services industry. Our goal was to find specific reasons customers find for leaving a business as well as the things that increase retention and referrals. We broke them down into 3 categories.

  1. Barriers
    These are the minimum expectations of your customers. Barriers will irritate customers if they are performed poorly, but they don’t have any positive effects if performed well. For example, customers expect businesses to be accommodating of things like timing and scheduling, but they’ll only take notice when there is an issue. Basically, you’d better get these right for the sake of retention.
  2. Delighters
    These are the “wow” factors that your customers didn’t expect. These show your customers you’ve gone above and beyond. Delighters improve retention when performed well, but there is no negative impact if they’re absent or performed poorly. For example, if you do something like a special customer appreciation event with a free class or service, customers will be very impressed. If you don’t, they won’t notice; they weren’t expecting it anyway.
  3. Drivers
    These factors go both ways. If you miss the mark with drivers, customers will notice in a negative way. If you perform drivers well, retention increases. For example, parents prefer consistency. If they notice a high turnover rate in your staff, they’ll start to worry. If they see familiar smiling faces of your staff on a regular basis, they’ll feel more comfortable and are more likely to stick around.

Barriers to Avoid

It is critical to know which elements of the customer experience are deal-breakers and ensure those elements are delivered at the expected level. Listen360’s analysis identified the top barriers for each children’s services industry segment.

Poor instructors or coaches, minimal communication ability, and lack of consistency are the most common barriers across the children’s services industry. While seamless communication between the teacher and the parent likely won’t be the driving reason a customer recommends your business, the failure to communicate with the parent will decrease loyalty and could lead to negative word of mouth in the community. These barriers are the minimum requirements for you to establish yourself and survive in the industry.

Wowing Your Customers

In Listen360’s analysis of the key drivers and delighters, two crucial key drivers emerged as most common: the instructors, coaches, or teachers and the lessons, classes, or curriculum. High performance of these drivers and delighters has the power to lead to positive brand reputation amongst current and potential customers. However, poorly performing these key drivers could have a significant negative impact on the way a child’s parents view your services.

If you want to truly differentiate your service from the competition, go beyond the barriers and the key drivers and provide a service that delights. Of the top 20 attributes Listen360 identified, 3 of them are considered delighters, with the potential to have the highly sought after wow factor. These attributes include:

  1. The Curriculum
    Parents look for a curriculum or program that is structured, stimulating, comprehensive, and effective.
  2. The Staff
    They want to see staff and/or teachers that are friendly, patient, and nurturing. Additionally, as mentioned, parents prefer consistency; higher turnover tends to be a greater concern for parents.
  3. The Facility
    Customers are searching for a facility or space that is clean, safe, and conveniently located.

Putting these attributes at the forefront of your business model will help solidify loyalty amongst your customer base and build the foundation for brand advocacy.

While these wow factors may not be baseline requirements to compete in today’s children’s services industry, over time there is a high likelihood that these attributes will be demoted to key drivers, where, for example, the expectation will be that the curriculum or program is structured, stimulating, comprehensive, and effective. It’s important to constantly communicate with your customers and collect feedback on your business to make sure you’re performing not only to satisfy their expectations but exceed them.

For more best practices and a deeper dive into customer retention, check out our free 2019 Customer Loyalty Benchmark Report.