Between COVID-19 restrictions and a difficult economic climate, fall enrollment is looking more uncertain than ever for dance studios.
What can studio owners do to ensure their numbers are as high as possible? Provide an easy and exceptional experience for their studio families.
At a recent webinar hosted by Dance Business Weekly and sponsored by Jackrabbit Dance, we talked to Molly Stroud, digital marketing specialist at Jackrabbit Dance and Michelle Soutier, owner of Miller Street Dance Academy, about why customer service is more important than ever—and how to deliver excellent support for parents when the future is so unpredictable.
Strong customer service = ease and organization.
It's a crazy time. Ensuring that you aren't adding to the craziness is essential to keeping parents on board at your studio. This means organized, streamlined communication, said Stroud—something Jackrabbit recently made easier for their dance studio management software clients with a series of customizable email templates. Stroud said that Jackrabbit's parent portal, too, has been especially appreciated during this time: A one-stop shop for all the information a parent might need, accessible on their mobile phones so they can log in wherever, whenever.
It may be time to get creative with your communication, too. "Part of customer service is listening to what customers are saying," said Soutier. Her parents expressed that they were being inundated with emails from their children's schools. To make sure her information wasn't getting lost in the mix, Soutier made fun videos of herself summarizing what she'd sent via email.
Though Jackrabbit clients have long been able to make contactless payments, this feature also has new relevance now as studio owners try to reduce foot traffic in their studios. Making as many interactions contactless as possible—from payment to sign-ups to scheduling—is a sign to your studio families that you are taking their safety seriously.
Needless to say, the easier your life is, the easier you can make your parents' lives: Jackrabbit recently fast-tracked upgrades on features like mass updates, which Soutier said has come in handy when she's had to unenroll multiple students at a time, or shift class sizes and times to account for social distancing.
Provide above-and-beyond experiences.
An upside of the pandemic: There's new opportunity to expand what you offer as a studio. Stroud said that the above-and-beyond experiences she's seen from her studio clients have been a powerful example of what exceptional customer service looks like, from expanded class offerings like dance history and yoga to just-for-fun events that give students an opportunity for much-needed connection with their peers and their teachers.
For Soutier, this has included everything from a Frozen-themed virtual camp to a Zoom pet parade to simple lunchtime hangouts with teachers. After the live events, she would add videos of these activities to the supplemental page of her Jackrabbit parent portal, so families could access them after-the-fact. "I want to give them more than they're paying for," said Soutier, who discounted her tuition when the pandemic hit.
Soutier has also been holding outdoor dance classes in her parking lot, and when the weather doesn't cooperate (which it often doesn't—she's now lost two sets of tents in surprise thunderstorms), she quickly transitions to Zoom (the parent portal, which quickly adapted to accommodate virtual classes, makes this process seamless).
Demonstrate your value.
One of Jackrabbit's customer service features doubles as an opportunity for studios to show that they are still providing value, even if they are limited in what they can offer. Jackrabbit's staff portal allows teachers to track students' skills and progress through updates that parents can see in real time on their parent portal. Many studios have been taking advantage of this feature to show parents that their children are indeed progressing—even if they can't go to the studio in-person.
Jackrabbit's livestreaming feature can function similarly—especially for those studios that are holding in-person classes, but have implemented COVID-related restrictions that bar parents from watching class as usual. They may have to watch from their cars or their living rooms, but they'll still be able to see the value you're bringing their children.