Sign up

Have some pie!

Duncan Findlater, Hobsons, UK

Hobsons is a name many know but The PIE for one didn’t really grasp what Hobsons did. Duncan Findlater, Head of Client Services and Operations in the UK, spilled the beans on its savvy enrolment support systems.

The PIE: So what does Hobsons do?
DF: We help universities communicate better with students.  In the UK this means we provide technology, an education specific CRM, and Managed Services to support enquiry management and offer conversion. In Australia, we publish the Good Universities Guide too.

"We find that carefully managed engagement, including regular calling, can increase conversion rates by up to 43%"

The PIE: Please explain more!
DF: The technology services are a one-stop shop for email and letter campaign management, text messaging, events management, online application for admissions, social media, and FAQ. We have an “Answer” online product powered through a database of answers – so students can ask questions about an institution online and receive instant answers, delivered via technology.

The PIE: This sounds like the sort of system O2 [mobile network provider] uses.
DF: [Laughs] Yes I guess you could say it is similar, but this one is education specific and is used globally by hundreds of universities.

The PIE: And what are your Managed Services?
DF:  Managed Services are a specialist service Hobsons provides in the UK and Australia. A lot of institutions are concerned that they don’t have the resources to meet targets around fee income, diversity and student numbers.  We help them design, build and execute strategies. It is a completely “invisible” and integrated service that aims to fit in with the institutions’ existing processes and provide a personalised student experience from enquiry to enrolment.

The PIE: What might a strategy include?

DF: For each university we have structured communication plans which include online chat events, SMS campaigns, call campaigns, surveys – anything that we feel will build that relationship with the student before their feet even touch the ground in the UK.

Research still shows that the majority of international students still rate email and phone as their preferred communication channel

The PIE: How does Hobsons provide personal consulting?
DF: Our Students Support Officers’ interaction with international students is built on email and phone work; why this is good is because research still shows that the overwhelming majority of international students still rate email and phone as their preferred communication channel.

To be as effective as possible we have staff with specific language capabilities, including, Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian and Arabic; we also work closely with our colleagues in Australia where they have Vietnamese and Korean language speakers. You often find that while the student will speak good English the phone will often get passed to a parent who doesn’t!

The PIE: Do you operate globally?
DF: Yes, we have offices in the UK, Australia, the US and most recently in Malaysia but have partner institutions in many more countries. We are now working with universities in NZ, India, Pakistan, Ireland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the number of universities we work with in mainland Europe are rapidly expanding.

The PIE: What gets you excited about your role? [more>>]

Related articles

Still looking? Find by category:

Add your comment

4 Responses to Duncan Findlater, Hobsons, UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: All user contributions posted on this site are those of the user ONLY and NOT those of The PIE Ltd or its associated trademarks, websites and services. The PIE Ltd does not necessarily endorse, support, sanction, encourage, verify or agree with any comments, opinions or statements or other content provided by users.

To receive The PIE Weekly with our top stories and insights, and other updates from us, please