Guardianship is a very difficult thing to get right. There is certainly a true ‘cottage industry’ element to what we do. Real children, with specific and very real needs, feelings, and personalities are under our care. Each one needs to be treated truly as an individual. There are countless events during the boarding school year when the schools and colleges close and parents are relying on Bright World to choose good people as their suppliers; friendly host families with comfortable houses, for whom money is not the main issue, paired with decent and caring drivers, who go the extra mile to offer a safe and efficient airport transfer service. Of course, everyone wants to get to the airport on time and not miss their flight, and everyone wants a friendly driver standing with their name on a board when they get off a long flight.
At the other end of the scale, there is an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes administration involved in delivering an excellent UK guardianship programme. Parents want efficiency, and this necessitates an organisation for whom policy, process, and reliable systems are of paramount importance.
Demands and expectations change over the years and being aware of that, and innovating new technology, has allowed Bright World to do the job much better and improve things. For example, the world of instant messaging has produced a society where faster response is expected. Long gone are the days when you would send a fax and be happy to wait a few days for a response.
So in no particurlar order this is what we think parents really want from a guardian...
We used to be proud of our ‘response within 24 hours’ promise, but actually that does seem a bit long to wait these days. Parents want fast, almost immediate response to their emails, and instant reaction from our WeChat service in China. Who can blame them? The digital world is instant now and people want quick and immediate attention. Fast, efficient communication is vital.
At certain times of year, the volume of emails that we receive are very high, but we always try to respond at least the same half of the day, and do not leave parents waiting overnight.
Interactive online platforms
Information at your fingertips on the go. It is important, and I think becoming expected, for organisations to have an app or at least a mobile-friendly portal, where information is easily accessible on the go. Parents want to be able to access information that has been sent to them in an email, or information that they have previously submitted from one convenient location.
“You have an excellent system that works really well for us as agents. It is very convenient and parents really like us. Our parents really appreciate your airport transfer system and it makes them feel very secure. I have nothing but positive feedback for you.” Anastasia Radko, Premier LLC, Bright World Partner Agent.
Choice and involvement in decisions
We are now used to being involved in decision making processes when purchasing a product or programme and guardianship is no different. Using the internet, we now look ourselves to find the perfect holiday cottage or overseas destination, the cheapest flight and the best train route, rather than relying on a travel agent. The same now applies to guardianship, and we are finding ways of allowing parents to be more involved in the choice of host family for their child. We now also offer the option of Relax and Revise at half terms, whereas historically, host family was the only option.
Efficient travel arrangements
The worst nightmare of any parent is receiving a call from their child saying they have missed their flight, or they have arrived at the airport and no-one is there to meet them. Making sure this doesn’t happen is a very big part of what we do at Bright World. Parents have access to an online profile of the driver picking their child up, usually within 48 hours of requesting the journey. If anything does go wrong, such as a driver being late due to traffic, then our 24/7 emergency phone is constantly in operation, and someone will be there to help and communicate with all involved.
Parents expect, quite rightly, that any host family, driver, or member of Bright World staff has been carefully chosen and screened. It is our duty to do all we can to make sure they are good people. All staff and volunteers at Bright World are DBS (criminal record) checked, and have references taken out on them. Host families are revisited each year to make sure standards are maintained. What parents perhaps don’t realise, is that we do regularly decide not to work with people, or to stop working with suppliers who present concerns to us. Some host families start to be greedy with money, for example, or someone’s DBS check may reveal a criminal record that we feel makes working with them unsuitable. We adopt a zero-tolerance approach to anyone that presents concerns to us, and decide on behalf of our parents and students not to work with these people.
To have their expectations exceeded - even if they don't realise that
At Bright World Guardianships we are constantly trying to think of things before they have even entered our clients' minds, aiming to do all the worrying so they don't have to.
Being a pro-active provider of a guardianship programme should mean that parents don’t actually realise all that is going on in the background, and therefore don’t have any anxieties that things are not under control.
Lana Foster, Bright World Managing Director
Posted on November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:33 AM