When to Follow-Up with Your Students

I miss you

The relationship between test prep professionals and their clients typically ends abruptly on test day. For months, students prepare for the test, take the test, celebrate their scores, and move on with their academic lives. And for the most part, that's how it should be.  But when should you follow-up with your students?

After test day, the test prep tutor is left behind, often with nothing to show for his efforts but a sense of satisfaction that comes with a job well done (think the closing scene of Good Will Hunting).

 

Warm fuzzies? Of course! Potential inroads to new tutoring referrals? Not so much.

It is vitally important for test prep professionals to follow-up with clients a number of times after test day to gather as much information and potential feedback as possible. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to schedule follow-up conversations around the timing of important SAT & ACT dates. Here are a few best practices for following up with students.

Mark Your Calendar

Just as every test prep professional should know the full schedule for SAT and ACT test days (Reminder: the registration deadline is coming up!!), the score reporting days are just as important.

When you send a student out the door after their (potentially) final test prep session, it’s time to break out the calendar. No matter whether you rely upon Siri, Alexa, Google, Outlook, or the good old desk blotter, set deliberate reminders to follow-up with each of your clients.

You may think this is something you will remember to do on your own, but life can get hectic quickly; missing out on all the opportunities for follow-up can end up costing your business in the long run!  The right call at the right time can help you tap into a whole new hub of students. There is potentially thousands of dollars to be made or lost by picking up the phone!

Make the Most of Your Opportunities

Opportunity 1: On Test Day

Send off a quick email to testing students to follow-up on how they feel their test day went. DO NOT discuss the actual test content as it could compromise both your student and your test prep business. Rather than being content-focused, use this quick check-in to express your continued interest in the students' success. 

Opportunity 2: A Few Days Before Score Report Day

About a week before score reports are set to go live, reach out to your students again. Remind them how and when to check their scores online. Be sure to set the table for the next conversation about the scores themselves. Let them know you will be in touch once the reports are available to see how they did and help them with any questions they have about interpreting the SAT or ACT score report.

Opportunity 3: On Score Report Day

This is when your test prep and communication efforts hopefully come together and bear fruit. There are two ways this call can go: either the client is satisfied with their score, and they no longer need your services, or the client wants to shoot for greater improvement.

If it’s the latter, be prepared with a plan of attack for how to use the score report to map out the next steps towards growth. Some disappointment is natural in this case, so be prepared for that potential. In this situation, it's important to be simultaneously supportive and proactive to help ensure you don’t lose future business based on a single disappointed student.

Most often, you'll find that the client is very pleased with their score improvement. In this case, you're probably having your last phone call with that client. Consequently, this is your last best chance to achieve a few important objectives. 

First, you'll need to seek out feedback on your test prep services. If the student or parent expresses satisfaction or gratitude for the help you provided, be sure to parlay that into a shiny new testimonial for your website!

Second, it's a great idea to follow up with an email containing links to online review sites such as Yelp or Google+.

Third, now is the time to directly ask for referrals! When parents are telling you how happy they are with your services, all you need to do is thank them for the warm words and let them know that your business relies on word of mouth from satisfied customers like them. The highest compliment a satisfied customer can give you is a referral for future business. Literally, nothing helps a business grow like word of mouth from satisfied customers.

Fourth, follow up with an email including a promotional flyer PDF that your satisfied clients can easily forward to everyone they know who might be interested in signing up for test prep services. Make it as easy as possible for them to become customer evangelists!   

It's important that you're always conscious how and when you follow-up with your test prep clients. Follow up at the wrong time, and there's nothing actionable for your clients to do for you.  Follow up without a good reason, and you're just advertising or asking for a favor.

However, if you do this right, your follow-up conversations can generate a significant number of new leads and referrals. Remember, your success stories will always be your best advertisement!

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How do you go about soliciting feedback for your test prep program? Share your insights with our readers here and on social media!

Matt McCorkle