How Holmesglen TAFE ranked #1 in customer service across all industries

Holmesglen’s award-winning Connect Team are enjoying the rewards of becoming a more competitive, customer-centred organisation. Titus Peter (Manager – Connect Contact Centre) shares the projects they undertook to become a number-one ranked institute.

'The Future Students Program has given us a framework for meaningful conversations with students, and a significant boost in confidence and belonging for our team members'

Titus PeterManager – Connect Contact Centre

The need to drive more enrolments

“When private RTOs started receiving government funding, they secured a larger chunk of our prospective students because they were more sales-oriented than state-owned RTOs. Holmesglen had to do something different.

The challenge was that a lot of student enquiries were not being resolved the first time. Calls were being transferred to other departments, and because other teams didn’t have the same level of customer service training, we were losing sales opportunities.

Evolving from EMU to Connect Team

Holmesglen started to look at the entire enquiry management process to make sure that all prospective students received an appropriate response without having to escalate them. As part of this review, in 2012 the Enquiry Management Unit became the Connect Team. The team was tasked with managing the entire prospective student experience from enquiry to enrolment. Many changes were implemented since that time including:

  • A new CRM for better pipeline management
  • A central Knowledge Management system with all the faculty courses and relevant information to help support First Contact Resolution
  • Upskilling the team with regular training from senior team leaders
  • Ensuring all prospective students were being directed to the Connect Team including website leads

Monitoring and training support from CSBA

When I joined in 2018, our executive director encouraged me to participate in the annual Future Student Benchmarking Program. Holmesglen had achieved a 60% score which was a good mark but there was also a lot to learn. It was clear the executive team wanted to deliver an engaging experience for our students.

Holmesglen took part in another round of Future Students Benchmarking – and extra assessments during the off-peak period – to allow our trainers time to work with everyone individually. We also received great support from Kiri Thom at CSBA. She helped us understand what phrases to use which would help us better understand the nature of enquiries and how to solve them the first time.

CSBA’s program really helped us to take ownership of each enquiry. The framework provides all the key elements for providing good service and, by doing that, convert more applications. It helped our team understand how to engage with prospective students, find out what they need and how to resolve the enquiry. It gave the team purpose about what they needed to do and why.

Embedding the insights into reporting and performance management

At our weekly catch ups we review the team’s performance on our KPI dashboard. During the benchmarking period, we also include the agents’ individual quality scores and how they rank. Everyone is interested to improve so there’s no hard feelings. It actually creates friendly competition and complements their personal development plans which I urge them to design for themselves.

Now that we have a stronger system for resolving enquiries the first time, and monitoring the progress, we have started seeing amazing results, and the entire institute is taking notice.

Breakthrough results and awards

Escalations have dropped from 35% to only 6-7% on average which would suggest that our agents are better equipped to handle student enquiries. We’ve also seen big increases in online enrolments after prospects have spoken to our Connect Team. We are reaping the benefits of all our hard work.

We were thrilled to reach number one in the education sector in CSBA’s quarterly benchmarking. And then in 2021 we received the ATEM award competing against all universities and TAFEs. A manager congratulated me and said that the #1 ranking might have been a ‘fluke’ the first time around, but the award proves the Connect Team is doing something good. It’s a great compliment!

The Connect Team is now highly regarded within the institute. Inside Holmesglen, the Connect Team was nominated for an important award by another department which shows how much respect we’ve gained from our colleagues about the work we are doing. We really are over the moon with how it’s all worked out!”