Jason Hoppner, Director of Operations and Customer Experience, GESS - German European School Singapore

With over two decades of shaping customer experience in the education sector across Asia-Pacific and Australia, Jason is a recognised authority in driving CX strategies. His expertise spans sales and marketing, customer experience, and operational leadership, demonstrated at premier educational institutions such as the German European School Singapore, Dulwich College (Singapore) and Navitas.  A thought leader in the field, Jason has shared his insights at various international conferences, underscoring his role as an industry expert. With a commitment to excellence and a passion for innovation, Jason continues to shape the future of CX in education, guiding institutions to achieve both their academic and business objectives.


In today’s globalised world, international K-12 schools are not just educational institutions but are increasingly viewed as service providers in a competitive market. This article explores the burgeoning role of customer experience (CX) in the international school sector. We examine the transformation of students and parents into discerning customers, the implications of customer lifetime value, the necessity of articulating unique value propositions in a crowded marketplace, and the integration of corporate CX strategies into educational frameworks.

Understanding the Customer: Students and Parents as Key Stakeholders

In high-cost education markets like Singapore, where annual fees can surpass USD$35,000 per year and school sizes can exceed 3000 students, the concept of students and parents as customers gains critical importance. These stakeholders are not just passive recipients of educational services but active participants whose satisfaction and loyalty are essential for the sustainability and growth of schools.

Think of it this way: satisfied parents become advocates, spreading the word about the exceptional education their children receive. In turn, this advocacy directly impacts the school’s enrolment objectives. Happy parents are more likely to refer friends and family, write positive reviews, and participate in school events, creating a sense of community that’s incredibly attractive to prospective families.

For some international schools the average customer lifetime value (CLV): yearly tuition x average number of children per family x average length of enrolment – can exceed $500,000 and schools need to deliver an experience commensurate with that CLV. Recognising the significant customer lifetime value of parents, international schools are redefining their engagement strategies to cater to this evolving dynamic.

Embracing Corporate CX Frameworks

The development of a CX culture goes well beyond the idea that a school should simply offer warm and fuzzy interactions with parents. Knowing how to deliver the right experience requires detailed insights into a school’s current/former/prospective families along with a clear understanding of their views on education, their key drivers for choosing a school and what qualities they are seeking to develop in their children. To meet challenging enrolment targets, international schools need to be sophisticated hives of data insights, research and CX leadership. As such, many schools are now adopting corporate CX frameworks to enhance their service delivery. These models provide a structured approach to evaluate and improve the entire customer journey, ensuring a consistent and high-quality experience at every touchpoint. By adapting these frameworks to the educational context, schools are now able to systematically assess and refine their interactions with current, prospective and past families.

Advanced Research for Deeper Insights

To understand parent behaviour in school selection, international schools are employing sophisticated research methodologies. This involves conducting detailed surveys, focus groups, and data analytics to gain insights into parental preferences and decision-making processes. These findings are instrumental in developing targeted marketing strategies and tailored communication plans, ensuring that the school’s offerings align with the expectations and needs of its audience. In-depth knowledge of parent personas is also central to crafting effective marketing and communication strategies. By identifying specific parent profiles, schools can customize their messaging and outreach efforts, ensuring relevance and resonance. This segmentation allows for more personalised interactions, fostering a sense of community and belonging among prospective families and improving retention amongst existing families.

Schools are also slowly becoming accustomed to measuring their Net Promoter Score (NPS), a concept which only a few years ago would have been unheard of to most senior leaders in the education sector. In many ways, the challenges brought on by COVID forced the hands of many institutions to adopt more sophisticated approaches to their enrolment strategies which is where CX steps in. The “build it and they will come” approach simply doesn’t work anymore in meeting enrolment targets.

Decrease the Cost of Acquisition (CoA)

The development of a strong CX framework can also go a long way in decreasing a school’s cost of acquisition (Yearly Marketing Spend ÷ Yearly Enrolments).As competition intensifies in the international school sector and budgets become tighter, it is more important than ever to ensure that marketing is not only targeted towards right-fit families but also that the overall experience for families is elevated throughout the entire customer journey. For example, industry research is clear in that brand reputation is the number one driver for school choice for international school parents. Positive experiences lead to satisfied parents and students who are likely to recommend the school to others and since word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of school promotion in driving enrolment numbers, this reduces the need for expensive advertising campaigns. Additionally, a great CX strategy helps in retaining existing students, which is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones

Building a CX Culture: Beyond Satisfaction

Developing a CX culture in international schools involves more than achieving customer satisfaction. It requires creating a holistic and memorable experience for every stakeholder. This culture can only be nurtured through investment in CX tools, consistent staff training, open feedback channels, and a commitment to exceeding expectations in all aspects of school life.

Embracing CX is a strategic imperative for international schools. As the sector becomes increasingly competitive, and as parent and student expectations evolve, schools that effectively integrate CX into their core operations and ethos will emerge as leaders. The future of international education lies in its ability to deliver exceptional experiences, making CX an integral component of its ongoing evolution.

Content Disclaimer

Related Articles