DIFFERENTIATING BRAND THROUGH THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
LAL has been offering English language courses since 1981.
From modest beginnings in Torbay, Devon, the company has grown into a global player with schools and partnerships in the UK, Ireland, Malta, the USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa. During this period of expansion, several challenges have emerged:
- competition for English language courses provision has increased significantly with price discounting putting substantial pressure on margins;
- while there has been some growth in the ‘young learner’ market, adult learner numbers have been falling;
- over-reliance on student recruitment agents leads to a high cost of learner acquisition.
LAL approached CGA to help them develop a differentiated brand experience for both students and recruitment agencies, which would drive continued sustainability and profitability.
LAL’s proposition to market was not clear. This resulted in a sales strategy that got dragged into price dependency and discounting, putting pressure on margins and devaluing the service LAL was offering.
The existing procedure for actioning customer feedback was ineffective and the satisfaction surveys completed at the end of courses did not provide actionable insights to help improve the customer experience. Meanwhile, staff engagement was limited to annual staff surveys, despite the key role staff had to play in delivering the experience.
A key part of the project was establishing the baseline and setting financial and non-financial objectives.
- benchmarking LAL’s customer experience
- increasing positive feedback
- reducing complaints
- increasing customer referrals
- increasing repeat business; and
- boosting staff morale
CGA developed a bespoke customer experience transformation programme for LAL, including customer research and insight, journey mapping, brand promise and proposition development and employee engagement.
Insight and implementation through a ‘deep dive’ workshop with the management team and interviews with LAL customers and agents, CGA quickly identified that LAL’s staff was its biggest asset and that, while students and agents loved what they did, LAL was not consistently delivering to customer expectations.
CGA used the insight to develop four key customer outcomes and the brand promises that would differentiate LAL in the market. We applied our Heartbeat® journey mapping methodology to identify the functional and emotional expectations of customers and measure the gap between these and how well customers felt LAL delivered them.
Working closely with the LAL team, we built a bespoke Heartbeat® Tracker to identify where the experience needed improvement and where it performed well. CGA helped LAL frame its detailed transformation roadmap to support change programmes and predict where future focus will offer the greatest rewards through increased revenue, higher margins and better relationships.
The programme also saw the delivery of the first ever, global, all staff engagement event, which saw the Senior Leadership Team providing an update on the current operating environment and sharing the company’s vision and future direction.
Our work led to LAL refreshing their brand with a new, clear proposition: ‘LAL Unforgettable’. It also led to the company refining its visual identity, improving its messaging and communication, and launching a new product which has been positively received by agents and seen as a real differentiator in the market. With a clear set of customer outcomes and brand promises in place, we also provided a standardised set of tools and frameworks to LAL, to support the training of the newly organised sales team.
The internal engagement event was so well received, there was a measurable boost in staff morale and improved levels of engagement with staff, who requested future engagement events, which are now planned to take place twice a year.
LAL have completely redesigned their approach to measuring impact. Staff have been encouraged to engage with students to seek real time feedback on their individual experience. Student feedback is now collected by the ‘LAL App’ after each stage of the journey, with easy to complete questions relevant to the journey stage.
LAL now has timely feedback which it can act on, whilst students are still on their course. Students receive progress updates on issues they have reported, and, over time, data collected will enable LAL to plan future service improvements.