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Meet the experts: Richard Sealby - Head of customer insights

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at Kaplan and what sort of responsibilities you have?

I lead the Customer Insight Team which has four broad areas of responsibility, business performance reporting, marketing campaign management, customer research and student reporting.

Business performance
Business performance reporting involves making sure Kaplan knows enough about the students it has and how they are interacting with us, for example do we have more or fewer than last year, how are they choosing to study, how quickly are they progressing and how many papers are they taking? We also help to answer the many questions each classroom centre and each functional team may have about it's own students.

Campaign management
Campaign management involves the targeting, selection, execution and analysis of marketing campaigns, as well as the many other student contacts that we send out, such as newsletters and syllabus updates.

We make sure that the right messages go to the right students and then we analyse the performance of those messages, looking at open rates, click through rates and buying behaviour.

Customer research
Kaplan has a well structured approach to customer research which is centered on two large satisfaction surveys in January and July, an ongoing satisfaction survey to new students finishing their first course with us and a broad programme of bespoke surveys covering anything from website usage to product development.

The insight team design these surveys and send them out to students using an online survey tool, we then analyse the results and keep the business updated on overall satisfaction and areas where we need to improve to better meet the needs of our students.

Student reporting
Our final area of responsibility is student reporting which involves us tracking the progress of students for key clients as well as those learning through our new OnDemand products. Key clients send us their employees to study accountancy and rely on us to help keep these students on track and to offer targeted support when needed. We do this by tracking usage of our online learning resources in MyKaplan, which allows tutors to identify those who might need additional support ahead of their exams.

Students studying OnDemand are given a course structure which they are able to work through as and when they want, however if they are finding a subject particularly difficult or are falling behind the timetable they have set for themselves then Kaplan will offer support. This is also done by tracking students progress using online resources for both overall scores as well as progress against the agreed timetable.

Did you know?

At Kaplan we have experts who work in every part of the business, to guarantee that all our courses are designed with one thing in mind – making it as easy as possible for you to succeed in your exams.

How do you use the feedback that you gather from our students?

When a new student completes their first course with us we send them a survey asking them about their early experience with Kaplan. If the student has had an issue we ask them to leave contact details and we follow up with them to try and resolve any problems and recover any poor customer experience they may have had. We also analyse survey responses to uncover any long term problems our new students may be experiencing.

Satisfaction surveys
In our two large satisfaction surveys we ask our students about a wide range of topics from our tutors and our classroom centres to the individual features of their course, such as study texts and mock exams. In these surveys we ask students to rate the importance of the feature as well as how satisfied they are with Kaplan's performance.

We then use the gaps between importance and satisfaction to target areas for improvement. Action plans are created to improve areas where our performance falls short of our students needs and progress against these plans is regularly reviewed.

How does the work you do impact our students and improve their overall experience of studying with Kaplan?

As mentioned above we are able to directly influence the experience of individual students using our ongoing new student survey, however many of the key improvements are on a much wider scale. An example would be the issues students were having with MyKaplan, from the speed at which it opened to the fact it wasn't able to work across multiple operating platforms, in particular on ipads.

This feedback has led Kaplan to invest in a new MyKaplan system which is not only quicker and easier to navigate but will work on all the platforms our students wish to use. This will be released to students in early 2017.

Our bespoke programme of student feedback has also helped to shape the courses our students study, from the timings of ACCA courses as they move to four exam sittings per year; to the development of the new CIMA OnDemand product, which allows students to study as and when they want, which is perfect for a course with exams which can be taken at any time.

What has been the biggest development or improvement that you’ve seen since joining Kaplan?

I think our understanding of what students and clients need from Kaplan and what we have to do to better meet those needs. Some of the areas where we fall short of expectations take time to resolve, for example the introduction of the new MyKaplan system has been a huge undertaking.

We also have really great plans to address the speed and quality of mock exam marking and the speed at which we respond to student questions, both of which are key to students but needed significant business restructuring to resolve. The changes we are making will really benefit students and that is very pleasing to see.

To find out more about how students rated Kaplan in our latest student satisfaction survey, read our blog post Listening to our customers - the results of our latest student satisfaction survey.