Consumer research to redevelop proposition for School Fee Plan

School Fee Plan is a funding service for private school fees, provided by leading finance company Premium Credit. We undertook research with parents to better understand customer need and evolve the service proposition.

Consumer research to redevelop proposition for School Fee Plan

The brief

Funding school fees is approached in different ways by different parents. Some lean on family money, some save and sacrifice, some are high earners.

Premium Credit wanted to hear from parents who send their children to private schools - to better understand the decision-making, the planning factors, the challenges - and by doing so develop a more compelling School Fee Plan service and proposition.

Pancentric were commissioned to undertake the research and proposition work. We worked closely with partner Compton & Dean on key areas of the research and Conversation Labs on the technical SEO aspects of the marketing audit.

We were very impressed with Pancentric's approach on this project and their orchestration of expert inputs. Their exec summary tie-up of the research findings and value-add advice on future proposition direction was excellent and has helped set a clear path for the service development and marketing.
Jennie Hill, Chief Commercial Officer
Premium Credit, 2023

Our research activities

The goal was open mindedness, to assume nothing.

We collaborated with Premium Credit to develop a representative cross-section of parent types to give perspective and balance to the insight work.

All participants had a child at an independent, fee paying school in primary or secondary education - or they were planning to send their kids to private school in the near future.

The research activity split into 3 main areas

  • Focus groups with pre-tasks
  • User testing the 'as-is' digital experience
  • Expert review of 'as-is' marketing & digital

We organised recruitment of the research participants and incentives. 

Focus groups

Focus groups were undertaken online with 5-7 participants per group. 

Participants were asked to do a task in their own time prior to the group sessions. This helped warm them to the topic and enabled us to start identifying key themes which helped shape group discussions. 

We ran 4 group sessions, each lasting around 90 minutes. All sessions were recorded with the permission of the participants. Stimulus materials were provided as part of the activity; these focused on proposition descriptions and current marketing materials.

Themes explored in the sessions;

  • Planning and decision making around education?
  • Choice of school, choice of funding, key drivers/considerations?
  • Knowledge of different funding options?
  • Impressions of School Fee Plan proposition?
  • Positive and negative perceptions?
  • Comprehension? Appeal, gaps, barriers?
  • Detail reactions e.g. language, framing, references?

1-2-1 user testing

User testing allowed us to explore similar ground to the above but on a 1-2-1 basis and this time drilling into the detail of the online service and purchase experience.

One of Pancentric's UX team conducted the interviews.

Brochureware design and messaging was initially explored;

  • First impression of company?
  • Clarity of proposition?
  • Does this feel like a service targeted at you?
  • Would you buy from this website - what builds/undermines trust?
  • What's missing? Other information required or useful?

From here we walked through the School Fee Plan online application journey including a new prototype concept exploring the digital experience and known friction areas;

  • Quick quote calculator tool - ease of use, understanding?
  • Application start-point - expectations?
  • Question set - structure, sequencing, question phrasing, tone of voice
  • At every step - is this what you expected to happen?
  • How do you feel at this point in the journey?
  • Sharing bank details? Concerns?
  • End of application - what next? Expectations?

We ran 7 online sessions, 45-60 mins per session. All sessions were recorded with the permission of the participants and clips of customer feedback were used in the insights playback to the client.

Expert review - marketing, UX, proposition

Alongside the primary research activity, Pancentric experts assessed the following areas;

As-is marketing reach and traction

  • Addressable audiences
  • Keyword analysis - rankings and reach opportunities
  • Top of funnel - current profile and performance
  • Competitor benchmarking
  • Branded vs non-branded site traffic
  • Technical SEO audit - hygiene, errors, warnings, notices

As-is digital experience assessment

  • Website entry, landing pages - mapping flows
  • Messaging critique with reference to focus group and user testing insights
  • Annotated web screens, expert commentary
  • UX scoring using Pancentric's proprietary UX DigitalBar criteria covering Design Scheme, Task Orientation, Data Entry, Interactivity, Help & Error Tolerance.

Findings, directional guide, implementation

This was a project with multiple research strands and a range of expert inputs.

Pancentric orchestrated all research elements, taking stock of insights and architecting the client playback with a C-Level summary featuring the following;

  • Key takeaways
  • Future proposition focus
  • Prioritised action-plan

Insights were supported by video clips from the user testing and focus groups.

For client confidentiality reasons, we are not in a position to publish detailed findings. 

Pancentric continues to work with Premium Credit on implementation of the new proposition which includes rewriting brochureware pages, parent and schools video material, and marketing and SEO support. 

More about Premium Credit

Premium Credit, Specialist Lending

Premium Credit is a leading lender in the UK and Ireland for school fees, regulatory fees, travel and sports season tickets, membership, accountancy and leisure facility fees. Premium Credit is also a leading insurance premium finance provider, and the only premium finance company accredited by British Insurance Brokers’ Association. Generating £5 billion net advances, Premium Credit uses seamless technology to support over 2.6 million customers and almost 3000 partners in its chosen markets.

Online RFP journey & portal design

31 August 2023

This is RFPs made better. Award-winning investment consultancy firm, bfinance, asked us to take stock of user testing insights and design a best-in-class online RFP service.