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    It's all very well producing a set of procedures and flow charts to show how you manage relationships with employers, but do those systems work?

    I'm not talking about whether the systems work logically and whether, for example, your process for handling employer enquiries actually results in an employer receiving a response. I'm asking if the systems you operate work at a different level.

    Does the way in which you manage your relationships with employers deliver satisfied customers who buy from you more than once and who recommend your organisation on to others?

    Do employers like your account management system?

    Do employers like the approach you use to managing their relationship with your organisation? Do they believe that your customer relationship management system is set up to work to their benefit? Have good relationships been built up between the account managers and individual employers? Is the frequency of contact that you maintain between your organisation and employers right – in the eyes of your employers?

    Most importantly, whichever approach you use to manage your employer accounts, does it deliver plenty of repeat business to your organisation? If it does, it's a system that works.

    Do employers like the events you put on?

    When you host an employer event you can obtain immediate feedback about the value employers place on your efforts by simply doing a headcount of people in the room.

    If you want additional feedback, work out how many of the people present are employers and how many are others – your staff and invited non-employer guests. If you have at least four employers attending for every staff member or invited non-employer guest in the room, you're heading in the right direction.

    Take things a little further. What specifically do the employers who attend like about your event? What would they like more of? What would encourage them to attend your next event and bring another employer with them?

    Find out, and you'll soon have a list of topics for employer events that will last you for months. Ask the employers who recommend a particular topic to commit to inviting their contacts to attend the event, and you'll also get feedback on the value they place on your work.

    Do employers like visiting your premises?

    Do you make visiting your premises an enjoyable, stress-free and rewarding experience for employers? Whether your premises are the sites on which you teach, or the places where you host events for employers, do you ensure that the experience of visiting your chosen location is one that employers will actually enjoy?

    Do you send out accurate and helpful information in advance of an event? Do you help employers to reach your premises easily? What about the parking and the public transport access? Is there clear signage that helps adult visitors to find you and the employer-related event that they are attending easily? Can employers get refreshments in an adult environment? Is there somewhere for them to leave their coats?

    All in all, does your experience of working with employers suggest that employers arrive at events without anything you have done – or not done – raising their blood pressure or creating anxiety for them? If they do, you know your system for managing face-to-face relationships with employers is working.

    Great systems?

    It's easy to look at your employer engagement processes principally from your own perspective, but that's not enough. If you check that your systems also work well for employers, you'll be demonstrating that you really are customer-focused. You'll also almost certainly be bringing in more employer business.

    Margaret Adams helps provider organisations to do more business with more employers more often. She writes on employer engagement at: Attract More Business and at Achieving the TQS

    Read other FE News articles by Margaret Adams:

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