At BUSY At Work, we back the success of our apprentices by ensuring they have the support and resources needed to achieve. Like with all things in life, communication is key. That’s why we’ve teamed up with behavioural scientist, Dr Darren Coppin, to see how improving communication with our apprentices can lead to maximised engagement and increased apprenticeship retention and completions.
Texting Takes the Lead
While phoning a friend for support is something we all cherish, one of the main challenges we saw was getting hold of apprentices on the phone. It turns out that apprentices, like most of us, prefer to receive text messages than phone calls, especially from unknown numbers. However, behavioural science tells us that talking to a real person is essential for building trust and providing effective support.
The Science-Backed Solution
With the help of Dr Coppin, we sought to improve apprentice engagement. Extensive research, including a massive study involving 689,000 participants focused on text nudging, provided valuable insights. Armed with this knowledge, we implemented changes to our SMS messaging strategy over several months, with the aim of making apprentices feel more at ease and engaged.
The SMS Nudging Strategy
Our SMS nudging strategy involves a series of carefully crafted tactics designed to maximise engagement and support for our apprentices:
- Personalisation: We started by including first names to create a more personalised and friendly interaction.
- Human Touch: To humanise our messages, we introduced a designated point of contact, assuring apprentices that real people were ready to support them.
- Consistency: We used the same recognisable phone number consistently to build trust and comfort, ensuring that apprentices knew it was us contacting them.
- Support: In our messages, we referred to ourselves as “Your support,” so that it was clear that this wasn’t spam.
- Setting Expectations: We directly addressed the concern that our messages might be spam and informed apprentices to expect a call from us soon.
- Message Flow: We restructured the sequence of messages to create a logical and engaging flow of information.
- Easy to Understand: We used simple language to ensure that our messages were easy to understand.
The Key to More Conversations
These minor changes to our communication strategy had a major impact. Using these small SMS nudges, which Dr Coppin calls ‘Smudges’, led to a remarkable 35% increase in the number of calls answered by apprentices. To put it in perspective, that’s approximately 18,000 additional conversations with apprentices annually.
A Win-Win Outcome
‘Smudging’ has transformed the way we communicate with apprentices. By engaging with 35% more apprentices, we have opened the door to more meaningful relationships, enhanced mentoring and direct support. Even more powerfully, this heightened engagement is expected to reduce dropouts and yield better outcomes. That’s a win for everyone—apprentices, employers and training organisations.
BUSY’s ‘SMudging’ strategy shows how simple changes can make a big difference in how we connect with apprentices. By adjusting our communications to appeal to apprentices, we not only increased response rates but also built stronger relationships. When it comes to creating better outcomes, we’re embracing creativity to pioneer new approaches. ‘SMudging’ is just one of the innovations we’ve embraced to help apprentice retention and completion rates.