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We caught up with Samantha Rutter, CEO of Open Study College ahead of the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards 2018. Shortlisted for the Customer Focus Award, we spoke to Samantha to understand how to actually put your customers first – and why it is crucial to loyal growth.
Tell us a little bit about Open Study College.
I founded the company with my father in 2007 with the vision of making education accessible to all. With 11 years of experience in the education industry, we have established ourselves as a leading distance learning provider with more than 520 courses. We have had more than 73,000 students from around the world enrol with us, studying everything from accounting to fitness, A Levels to childcare. We strive to offer an outstanding distance learning experience with high-quality courses, award-winning tutor support and first-class customer service. We put our students at the heart of everything we do.
What does being shortlisted for the Customer Focus Award mean to you?
Our team are passionate about providing the highest quality customer service. Being shortlisted for the customer focus award reiterates our commitment to customer service and recognises the hard work our customer service teams put in every day.
What do you think gave you your competitive edge in this category?
We pride ourselves on delivering first-class customer service, which is why we have had over 73,000 students study with us. Over the last 11 years our customer service teams have evolved and divided into two separate teams. Thanks to this approach, our teams have developed expert knowledge, allowing them to deliver a tailored approach. Ultimately, we aren’t afraid to do things differently, and are keen to listen to student feedback and adapt to their needs. We constantly gather feedback from all angles to understand what we are already doing well and understand the areas in which we can improve.
What does customer focus mean to you?
Customer service is vital to the success of our business. We put our students at the heart of everything we do at Open Study College. Everything we do is carefully planned with our students in mind, considering how it will impact our service and ultimately our students.
What advice would you give to companies trying to be more customer-centric?
It’s vital that you are able to view your business through the eyes of your customers. Take the time to review your customer contact strategy from start to finish. This will help you to identify any areas of the journey that could be improved to create a more seamless customer journey.
What is Open Study College’s mission?
Our mission at Open Study College is to provide everyone with the opportunity to better themselves through making education available to all, no matter what their ability.
What growth plans do you see on the horizon?
For us, growth isn’t defined solely by our financial figures, but also by the number of new students that enrol with us each year. Our growth target is to double the size of the business with a focus on expanding our course range to include the higher education courses that our students want, alongside staff training and development. Over the last 11 years our growth has been steady thanks to our solid business model, commitment to providing excellent customer service and consistently reinvesting our profits back into the business.
What does being a Lloyds Bank National Business Award finalist mean to you?
Being a Lloyds Bank National Business Award finalist is a huge achievement for my team at Open Study College, particularly as we have been shortlisted for the Customer Focus Award. With customer service being at the forefront of everything that we do, we are incredibly proud to have been recognised alongside some of the best in British business at one of the UK’s most prestigious awards ceremonies.