The power of listening: including the customer voice in your educational resources

The power of listening

This is a sponsored post paid for by Westchester Education UK.

Creating high-quality educational resources is a complex and challenging task. With so many factors to consider – such as online or print, curriculum learning points, design and accessibility, and more – it’s easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the bigger picture.

That’s where the customers’ voice comes in.

By listening to the feedback, needs and experience of your customers, whether they be teachers, students, or parents, you can gain valuable insights into what works, what doesn’t and what exactly it is that they’re looking for and likely to purchase. 

Using this feedback then allows you and your team to make informed decisions about the design and development of your educational materials, ensuring that you meet the needs of your target audience. At Westchester Education UK & International, we have found this insight to be extremely effective when building our content development teams and briefing them to create products that meet our client’s needs. 

How do you go about collecting feedback effectively?

1. Focus groups

One of the most effective ways to gather feedback is through focus groups, which can be in-person or online. By asking targeted questions and listening to the responses you can gain valuable insights into what they need and ask follow-up questions straight away. Focus groups are also a great opportunity to trial materials and promote discussion as to how they might be further improved. 

It can be interesting to speak to both existing customers as well as potential customers to get a well-rounded view of how your product works in the market. Remember to make sure that all participants get a chance to speak. You can also gather quick reactions to use as discussion points through the use of post-it notes or a shared virtual whiteboard which you can easily retain for notes purposes as well.

A great way to find participants for your focus group can be by putting an advert in your marketing material, creating a call to action through social media, or by using your existing contacts (e.g. colleagues, authors, editors) who have recently worked in the school environment. 

2. Online surveys 

By asking structured and engaging questions in online surveys, you can gather feedback from a high number of respondents and get a great sense of what the majority of your customers are likely thinking. An easy way to target your existing customer base for a digital product would be by creating an alert on your digital platform with a call to action asking them to spare some time completing the survey. This way, you know that you are hearing from active users of your content. Using social media or existing email lists can be another helpful way of recruiting potential respondents, but you will need to make sure you use detailed starter questions (e.g. what is their position in the school?, what type of school that they work in?, etc.) to help ensure you are including responses from the correct target market. 

Consider what exactly it is you need to find out, and structure your questions around that. It usually helps to start with multiple choice, ratings, or yes/no questions to ensure you focus the respondent on what you need to know. You can then include open questions towards the end of your survey to really get a feel for the respondents’ personal viewpoints. You may hear something in this section that you weren’t expecting that can then be useful in future research.

3. Social media

Lots of teachers, parents and students regularly engage with social media. Collecting feedback and listening to your customers may be as simple as observing conversations in subject-specific Facebook groups to see unfiltered opinions on your product, or by following a hashtag on Twitter to help understand current teacher struggles (a simple one to start with is #edutwitter). Once you find where your key audience often communicate online, you can use this to get quick feedback on a particular topic or by creating polls for a snapshot of opinions. However, this route may mean that you get feedback and opinions from people who are not your target audience which may skew your data.

4. Data analytics

Typically a more passive form of customer feedback, diving into the data is a great way to understand the journeys your customers take through your existing digital products. You may identify trends and patterns you weren’t previously aware of, allowing you to make data-driven decisions about the design and development of your resources. 

I’ve listened. Now what?

Once you’ve analysed and prioritised the responses, it’s important to act on the feedback you receive. If you’re early in the project planning stages, this may mean making changes to the scope or adjusting the planned editorial process. If you’re part-way through a project then adjustments may be needed to the schedule to allow for pivots, or it may be that a small change to a design feature will actually make a big difference. You now have the responses, feedback and data to guide where your extra efforts should be taken and how these will benefit your customers in the long run.

Tell your customers what you heard

Marketing is a great way to show your customers ‘you spoke, we listened’. Highlight the changes you’ve made, big or small, and show an understanding of how those changes affect their teaching or learning. 

Using the customer voice in educational publishing isn’t just about creating better products, it’s about building a better relationship with your customers. By listening to their needs and pain-points, you can create materials that truly meet their needs and help them succeed in the classroom. 


Emma Hudson is the Content and Services Manager at Westchester Education UK and International. She has 12 years publishing experience, 6 of which have been in educational publishing working on complex print and digital resources.

Follow Westchester Education UK on LinkedIn.

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