Registration Best Practices for Continuing Education and Workforce Development

Purchasing and attending a leisure non-credit continuing education program is really no different than going to the movies, out to dinner or to an event. If we make the decision to spend our time and money—then we want to feel fulfilled and satisfied with our purchasing decision.

Purchasing a workforce development program brings a similar response. Your students come to you for a reason. Most times a continuing education student is in a life transition phase. Personal or professional, they have a specific reason for seeking you out. Your continuing education staff members must be able to understand why a student is with your program, and be able to satisfy their needs.

There are five stages of customer attachment.

  1. Awareness
  2. Identity
  3. Relationships
  4. Community
  5. Advocacy

Similar to five stages of human development, we want to relate these to your CE or Workforce Development program. Your CE program’s focus should be on having your students forming a relationship with you. Your students identify with you and when they are looking to learn something new, being trained or contracting for services—they think of you. It is because of the relationship you built that students come back. This is the foundation for building a strong relationship with your students and vice-versa.

To build a good relationship with your students, your registration process must be a positive experience, as registering for a course is often the first time they will interact with your program. You need to make it easy and intuitive for your students to register and provide them with multiple options (online, mail, fax, phone, walk-in) to do so. If you can no longer take phone registrations—don’t highlight it—put a positive spin on the decision. We know that you don’t like waiting on hold, we prefer that you speak to a person. Registration must also be available 24/7. Finally, don’t forget your students that register with a confirmation notice and a class reminder.

And finally, make your registration process as efficient as possible by creating a system where all registrations are taken the same way. Create one form which has all the information students need to register and explains the next steps. Only ask your students to provide the information you need (i.e. birth date, gender, zip code), and only ask for it once. And most importantly, say “thank you” once a student has registered.