Wharton OnlineThe assumption is that customers have the final say in whether they purchase a product or service.

Customers classify products and services into 3 bundles:

  1. Operational excellence
  2. Performance superiority
  3. Customer intimacy (customer-centricity)

Customers pick the product or service that they perceive to be the best in one bundle and fair in the other two.

If we apply this logic to a school appealing for prospective students, parents must perceive a school to be the best option in one of these bundles and fair in the other two for them to enrol their children.

In the context of a school, operational excellence might refer to the day-to-day running of the school, efficiency of communication, scheduling, and availability of quality facilities. Performance superiority might refer to student achievement in external assessments. Customer intimacy might refer to a school’s inclination and ability to meet the needs of individual students.

Different parents place different emphasis on different bundles and schools (or any other entity providing a product or service) cannot please everyone. Therefore, it is very important that a school is able to target those families that it wants to attract en masse. Once they have identified those families, the school must ensure that it is perceived to be best in class in the bundle that those families have prioritised. This is not to say the school cannot provide for and successfully attract families that have prioritised a different bundle. However, if a school is to maintain or grow its roll, it must be very clear as to its identity and who they are best placed to serve.