ChildcareCRM CEO shares insights on current enrolment trends, service challenges and future plans
There can be no doubt that 2021 is a year of viewing the world through the lens of “a new normal” as many of the systems, processes and ways of everyday life shift as the world works around the challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
While many of these shifts have affected individuals at a macro level, micro level changes have also taken place, with individuals and families making adjustments about their expectations for early childhood education and care (ECEC) amongst other core systems.
The Sector recently spoke with Matt Amoia, CEO of ChildcareCRM (CCRM) about his observations on specific trends or developments in the CRM space, the challenges the CRM platform is helping customers solve, and next steps in 2021 and beyond.
Trends in customer relationship management
With over 4,000 centres across five different countries using the CCRM platform, Mr Amoia is well positioned to comment on trends within the ECEC sector from a CRM viewpoint.
“So far what we are seeing,” he said, “is overall leads above pre COVID levels in Australia, leads per centre per month and registrations at the same number of January and February 2020. So Australia out of all of our geographies feels like the healthiest.”
As well as using their existing customer base as a metric, CCRM is also looking more generally at the sector, including services which are not currently using a CRM tool.
“We track online searches and we are now seeing double the amount of prospects searching for CRM in Australia than we do compared to places like the US.”
This, Mr Amoia said, could be an indication of a big shift within the sector.
“It kind of feels like services are feeling a bit of the enquiry momentum and going out and searching for tools to help them manage their business whether it be CRM or a management system,” he added.
Addressing challenges at service level
When asked about specific changes and challenges for service leaders – those tasked with managing CRM platforms on a daily basis – Mr Amoia had some clear and valuable observations which were picked up as part of their Annual Benchmarking Survey – Building Blocks for Success.
Firstly, and in direct correlation to the increase in volume, in terms of both enquiries and enrolments, is clear increase in competition for the same leads.
“We are seeing that families that are entering our platform as a lead tend to enter multiple centres, so the competition is heating up,” he said.
“As a result, one of the challenges for a centre is to make sure that you are responding to them as quickly as possible, not only swiftly but with good timely content and enough to generate conversions by getting them to book a tour and then enrolled.”
Secondly, the shifting responsibilities and expectations of service leaders in a post COVID landscape are impacting on their capacity to effectively juggle the competing demands of their roles.
“The lives of centre directors these days are so different then it was pre covid. You now have so many extra things you have to account for in a day. And a lot of times you are doing it with less staff because you are running a leaner team,” Mr Amoia said.
Identifying lead origins – where are families coming from?
In its most recent benchmarking report it was found that online enquiries were “definitely the largest percentage and continue to increase,” Mr Amoia said.
“The vast majority are online. We saw that for the third or fourth year in a row continue to tick up. It really points towards a centre’s need to have a great online presence across all channels.”
“It’s not just your corporate website, it’s also social, pay per click advertising, and the various search engines that are out there,” he continued, emphasising the importance of ensuring services have a digital relationship and can advertise any open spots on relevant platforms and services, because parents go there also.
CCRM’s platform tracks all communication, both inbound and outbound, so that there is a complete audit trail of any interactions, regardless of modality.
“Once they do enter the CRM, text is the most important. We have seen our text usage go off the charts since the start of COVID. Not just for centres to interact with families who are already enrolled to keep them updated, but also to respond to leads coming in, as this is a prefered form of interaction for families.
When asked about particular trends in the CRM landscape, Mr Amoia gave both long term and more immediate replies.
In the near term, he said, a lighter version of the platform, aimed at services and leaders who do not see themselves as “tech savvy” was released late last year.
“This lighter weight solution that people are using has had tremendous response so far because it allows people for the first time to use a CRM to manage the flow of enquiries and automate all that back and forth with the engagement so they can focus on what matters in the centre,” he said.
Another innovation relates to staff, and came about after CCRM noticed that many of its customers used the platform to engage with staff, as well as the families in their care, a development Mr Amoia found interesting.
“If you think about a CRM, and our lead funnel, that works really well for prospective applicants looking for a job. And vice versa for a centre to reach out and recruit and keep those engaged through the whole process,” he explained.
“Just like folks are competing for families right now, they are also competing for staff too. So that’s a development we have seen start to really ramp up. We are seeing this more in the US then in Australia right now.”
And over the longer term
In the longer term, CCRM plans to “take a little step back.”
“The vision for us is to be a more robust full featured CRM and to do this we are going to take things that we are seeing in other industries and apply them specifically to child care. I am talking about things like web analytics and interactions, forecast and funnel management, and any other insights pulled into our platform from any other platform that a centre may be using and using that data to drive insights into your pipeline.”
This analytical process will help services to focus on the leads that have the highest probability of conversion, or to forecast forward and look at openings coming up in a month or two using the existing funnel and finding out which one of those opportunities is the best fit.
“I think you see that across other verticals and other CRM platforms and we want to bring some of that to child care. Some of the biggest pain points we hear are around that forecasting and funnel management piece in general and I think we are very well positioned to help add some value there.”
For more information about ChildcareCRM, and how it may support your service, please visit the website, here.