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Customer Experience (CX) insights in a class of their own

Customer Experience (CX) insights in a class of their own
Customer Experience (CX) insights in a class of their own

How Forsta helps global education group Cognita learn from the voices that matter to its multiple schools.

How Forsta helps global education group Cognita learn from the voices that matter to its multiple schools.


Keeping a pulse on the views and experiences of stakeholders is crucial for any business.

But getting ongoing feedback from 80,000+ students and 15,000 employees in more than 100 schools, in 16 different countries? Then acting on key insights for continuous improvement in those schools? 

A heavy lift for this global system of schools. 

Clearly every successful CX program has its own journey. And for Cognita, with schools in North America, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, it’s been nothing short of remarkable. 

Launched in 2014, its CX program is now nearly a decade old.

A. The challenge

Back in 2014, the Cognita team saw that if they didn’t know what was really going on in their schools, they’d be running blind. And that was something to avoid at all costs.

Private education was – and continues to be – an exciting yet competitive market, with significant growth opportunities for those who strive for excellence in all areas.

With no other private education group seeming to use CX effectively, Cognita saw a chance to establish itself as the leader. And it set its sights on the three groups of stakeholders making its schools tick: parents, students, and employees.

But successful CX programs need buy-in from the right people. Cognita needed to get schools to engage with the program so they too could see the value of CX.

It’s fair to say that Cognita faced some challenges in getting the employees to rally behind the CX program at first. The goal was to not just make them see the feedback but empower them to understand its impact. For that to happen, Cognita had to make sure the program and its results are embedded into the company culture.

“Our next step is to weave our insights into a single story via a one-stop shop dashboard environment. Through these dashboards you can look at the entire parent and student journey throughout the life cycle of the school and helps us
be more proactive in our decision-making. Our aim is to go from insights to actions, faster.”

Stephan Hogenbirk
Global Head of Strategic Insights, Cognita Schools

B. The solution

Fast forward to the present day, and Cognita’s schools are happy to take part in survey programs. Why? They’ve come to see the value of knowing exactly what’s going on in their schools. The insights from the CX program are now fully embedded into the operations across schools and offices within Cognita.

For example, Cognita’s ‘Voice of the Parent’ program. This serves as an eye opener for schools and other stakeholders as it enables them to peel the layers and see the real truth underneath the feedback. It has helped identify previously unknown issues. With the Forsta platform they can track results in real-time and, crucially, close the loop. 

Lightning-fast access to survey results certainly helps too. Moments after a survey has closed, Cognita sends the schools 80-90 PowerPoint slides with results – at the click of a button. This way the platform does the heavy-lifting for the schools, so they can focus on their core responsibilities more effectively.

“We have amazing response rates because the program is now fully integrated into school action plans and company structure,” says Stephan Hogenbirk. “It’s so part of everybody’s day-to-day that head of schools practically reach out to us to say ‘Hey, isn’t our survey due around now?’”

Cognita has encouraged a culture of sharing best practices and collaboration. If a school ever wants to dive deeper into a particular issue, then they are put in touch with another school which has already done similar work, so they can figure out, together, the best way forward. Talk about working smarter, not just harder. 

Cognita’s now at a stage where it’s ready to zoom out for a holistic view of the experience program. Correlating results between the feedback of parents, employees, and students now leads to a 360-degree view – and this can help to detect future trends.

It’s clear that there are certain questions or areas from one survey that overlap with other surveys. And that’s posed some interesting questions. For example, if teachers suggest they’re unhappy on a ‘Voice of the Employee’ survey, does this impact parent satisfaction? And how are students feeling? 

In a competitive market, student retention rates are critical to the schools’ success. To monitor these key metrics more closely, Cognita built a retention risk analysis tool, on top of the Forsta HX platform, to calculate if a parent might be at risk of changing schools.

By focusing on parental advocacy, Cognita can assess satisfaction levels over time and proactively reach out to parents to resolve issues and improve their experience.

These crucial warning signs give schools a chance to act before issues escalate. And families who express an interest in a Cognita school but choose not to enrol? Their views are as important as those who end up joining its community. 

The ‘Voice of the Parent’ program also tracks the schools that potential parents were considering during the admissions process, and which they opted for in the end. When it comes to driving improvement in this global system of schools, every stakeholder’s voice counts.

C. The results

Cognita tracks satisfaction at group level, school level and even down to grade/year level in every individual school. Throughout the entire group Cognita has seen an increase in parent engagement which in the end allows them to take the right decisions.

Its three ‘Voice of’ survey programs now offer a masterclass in what’s possible:

  • Voice of the Parent: 30% improvement in satisfaction scores over the last 2 years. Capturing feedback in a single data view allows Cognita to find out every pain point a parent might have during their journey, from websites to onboarding. 
  • Voice of the Student: being able to capture feedback of all their students aged 7 and above is quite unique.
  • Voice of the Employee: 90%+ employees covered. Listening to what teachers, support staff and other employees say is key in any organization.

Over time these ‘Voice of’ surveys have evolved into a transformational strategic program.

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