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They say good things come in small packages – and that’s certainly the case for our APAC Client Success team, who, with over 25 years of combined experience in the HE sector, bring dynamism, expertise and passion for managing and supporting our client partnerships.

Led by Head of Client Success, James Bennett, the decision to expand the team with two new Client Success Managers, Michelle Adams and Alessandra (Ali) Hobbs in March 2022 was a pivotal move to optimise our engagement with clients, and in turn, maximise their engagement with and use of our products and services.

We had a chat with James, Michelle and Ali to learn how they drive client satisfaction, support effective adoption and facilitate meaningful connections with institutions across the APAC region.

Q&A with James Bennett, Head of Client Success

You’ve been with the IDP family for nearly 14 years, what do you enjoy most about your role as Head of Client Success?

For me, what I enjoy most about my role is the same today as it was nearly 14 years ago when I first joined IDP - working with such a supportive, knowledgeable, interesting, and fun group of people across our client partners.

I know that might sound trite, but I have always been in a client-facing role, so I have built up fantastic relationships over the years and our clients are always supportive but also challenge us to do better.

Finally, I love the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of colleagues, in all areas of IDP and across all countries – especially in the last few years with our colleagues in the IDP Connect teams globally.

What does the Client Success team do? How do you work with clients to help achieve their objectives?

Our Client Success team is relatively new and our aim is to ensure that all clients and partners that work with us get the most out of the relationship, and their investment with us – whether that is time, money, or a combination of both.

Working closely with the Client Directors in our team, we endeavour to understand our clients’ needs, opportunities, and challenges, and present solutions that help them optimise their relationship with us.

We work across many different teams and client touchpoints within IDP, so it can sometimes be challenging to meet all expectations, but we feel we are delivering and we have some amazing talent in our Client Success teams, who will only help us evolve further and deliver greater value for our clients.

As more students are arriving onshore and institutions globally feel the pressure in their admissions team, what solutions and support can we provide to ease that pressure and drive best-matched applications?

We are acutely aware of the challenges admissions teams are facing and the pressure they are under in Australia and New Zealand.

At IDP we have recently introduced Central Application Processing (CAP) teams in India and China. These teams are responsible for preparing and submitting applications on behalf of prospective students. There are clear benefits for our counsellors, whose time is now freed up to focus on guiding, counselling, and providing great service to prospective students. For our clients’ admissions teams, there are also benefits in that the quality and timeliness of applications submitted has improved, which reduces the time spent following up on incomplete applications.

We have also rolled out our revolutionary Offer-In-Principle service, through IDP FastLane, which is already changing the way students and institutions experience the student recruitment journey.

When admissions teams receive a formal application from a prospective student who has had an Offer In Principle issued via FastLane, they know that applicant meets the necessary academic and English language requirements. And, because they have been verified by one of our expert counselling team members, they have been through our thorough GTE procedures. These are prime applicants that can be prioritised and issued with a formal offer quickly.

We know that there is some demand on scarce admissions teams resources to get set up on FastLane in the first place, but to use one of my oft-used analogies, it is better to pause and sharpen the axe than to keep trying to chop down the tree with a blunt blade (and besides, we have a fantastic Client Enablement team that does a lot of the heavy lifting).

What learnings have you taken from the pandemic?

• There is a real opportunity in adversity – so many businesses were innovative during the height of the pandemic and whilst many sadly didn’t survive, many did and thrived as a result of their innovation.

• Community and team spirit is alive and well – localising it to our own area, the international education sector, student groups, local communities, teams within our business, all pulled together to give mutual support and look out for each other and international students.

• Look after yourself – managing mental and physical health was a major challenge during this period. Many people, myself included, had to make changes in their lives and took some time for self-reflection. It shouldn’t take a pandemic to prompt this but for some it did and hopefully made long-lasting changes for the better.

• In terms of looking ahead in 2023, we benefit when we work together to identify opportunities and work through challenges. Each party brings something to the table so let’s not revert to siloes and try to address challenges and opportunities alone.

Q&A with Michelle Adams and Ali Hobbs, Client Success Managers

Since starting at IDP Connect in March 2022, what have you most enjoyed about your roles as Client Success Managers?

Ali: I’ve most enjoyed the opportunity to work with a fantastic bunch of people across our client partners and the IDP network. We work with such a diverse mix of institutions across APAC, and it’s always interesting to see how we can best support each clients’ unique objectives.

Michelle: The people in our industry I get to work with. Both our IDP colleagues around the world and our clients, it’s such a great mix of people and I feel like I learn so much from getting to work across so many of our clients and regions

Delivering end-to-end support is arguably key to a successful outcome for both students and institutions. Can you tell us how your roles play an integral part in providing that support?

Ali: Our roles are designed to provide support across all elements of IDP’s relationship with our partners to ensure they are seeing the maximum benefits from our products and services. We play a key role in connecting institutions to various teams within IDP. This can include our colleagues in our student placement network to coordinate counsellor training or to provide feedback from the market. We’re also connected in with our digital campus in Chennai, working closely to ensure clients are optimised across any digital marketing campaigns and FastLane.

Michelle: We work with our clients to understand their needs and help ensure they’re being set up for the best success with our products, whether that’s connecting them with our network colleagues, showing them how to utilise the IQ tools, or discussing digital marketing campaigns to align with their priorities, or supporting them join or optimise their IDP FastLane offering.

How regularly do you meet with clients to ensure they’re optimising their IDP Connect partnership and making use of our products and services?

Ali: Our frequency of meeting with clients really depends on the product or service that they are engaging with. For example, when a client is onboarding for FastLane or if they we are working through a digital marketing campaign, I’m likely to be engaging with them more frequently to ensure everything is moving smoothly and performing well.

Michelle: It depends on what we’re working on with a client and how much time they have, clients are super busy so we appreciate any face time we can get. It’s great to check in with clients regularly, see what their priorities are and remind them how we can support them with IQ tools they have, digital marketing and engagement with the network.

What is something you wish people knew more about IDP Connect?

Ali: IDP Connect has a comprehensive suite of digital marketing solutions to generate visibility, raise brand awareness and build pipeline for our partners. We have some exciting developments in train which will build upon our capabilities to drive targeted volume and diversification objectives for clients.

Michelle: Our data capabilities! We have such great tools that many of our clients have access to already and could be utilising more to support their recruitment and planning. We also work with clients to develop bespoke comprehensive reporting to support their specific strategic goals. It’s incredible to see the in-house experts in our IQ team who work with student panels and our network to build out these comprehensive reports to suit client needs.

You’ve both worked in higher education in previous roles, what gives you meaning working at IDP and in the international education sector?

Ali: Throughout my career working in international higher education, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some brilliant colleagues and partners across the globe. Whilst my day-to-day work has varied throughout my roles in the sector, I’ve always found our common goal to be incredibly motivating: supporting the educational aspirations of students globally.

Michelle: Knowing I’m a small part of this industry where we help students find their transformative experience is what gives me meaning. I think it’s amazing what our industry does; everything we do in our sector provides these fantastic opportunities and ensures they are set up for a great experience studying abroad, and to be a part of that is what really drives me.

CP - Image - Sophie Tudor
Sophie Tudor24 January 2023