Creating a sense of community in a large school district can be challenging, especially when there are multiple channels for communications.
Spokane Public Schools (SPS) in Washington saw this challenge as an opportunity to improve districtwide communications and make it simpler for families to ask questions and get accurate, timely answers — while fostering a culture of connection.
“For a big district like ours, generating a sense of community is tough when people feel stuck in a maze while seeking information,” said Dr. Adam Swinyard, Superintendent at Spokane Public Schools. “So we sought a way to make our responses more effective and help families access information easily. That’s where Let’s Talk came in.”
When Dr. Swinyard joined the district in 2020, there were only a few team members in the communications department. Since then, the district has made significant enhancements and investments at the school and district level to bring a multifaceted approach to storytelling and nurturing two-way interactions with families. These efforts included Let’s Talk, the only customer service and intelligence platform purpose-built for K-12.
Improving accessibility districtwide
Everyone has unique needs and preferences when accessing information, and that can make communications difficult. Let’s Talk has helped Dr. Swinyard and his team cultivate a more connected district. Let’s Talk serves as the centralized platform for the community to communicate concerns, comments, and questions. Using the platform, the district has enhanced its relationship with its community because they can easily automate who internally receives inquiries using powerful workflows and measure the response time to ensure swift answers.
“When a parent has to email multiple people, gets stuck waiting, and is passed on from one person to the next, that doesn’t generate a sense of connection,” said Dr. Swinyard. “It’s the human aspect that’s important in communications — and we found that fostering a sense of connection isn’t necessarily about familiarity with a person, but it’s about accessibility. We found most people don’t need to know or be familiar with who they’re talking to, they just need to feel like answers are accessible, which has been an interesting learning for us while implementing Let’s Talk.”
It’s been clear for SPS that accessibility and responsiveness builds trust with customers — and Let’s Talk makes that a reality. The investments made in prioritizing customer service have resulted in improved public sentiment about the school district, measured through family surveys and tangibly felt through the positive districtwide culture. In a spring survey, more than 11,000 SPS families responded where 80% of which said they would highly recommend their child’s school. When asked about the overall quality of their school, the average response was a four out of five rating.
Boosting efficiency in operations and staff productivity
After the implementation of Let’s Talk, SPS saw an uplift in operational efficiency and productivity districtwide because of the powerful workflow automations — communications can automatically route to the correct office or person for swift resolution without being hand triaged from person to person. Communication management is more efficient, boosting daily operations and staff productivity. Let’s Talk has become more than a time-saver for the district — it’s a resource maximizer.
“Our frontline staff in school offices have noticed it saves them more time and makes them more efficient,” said Dr. Swinyard. “Instead of all the secretaries taking messages, they can now gather all communications through Let’s Talk — which means fewer messages, emails, phone calls and voicemails. With everything going into Let’s Talk, it makes team members that much more efficient handling communications.”
Because the platform offers data analytics on the trending district topics, identifies staffing needs through tracking the volume of incoming tickets, and provides critical intel on key customer service metrics, Let’s Talk has become crucial for SPS’s strategic decision-making process.
“Let’s Talk has helped us manage resources, spot and resolve issues, and streamline communication for improved overall efficiency,” said Dr. Swinyard. “It’s reduced resolution times from days to hours — making it easier and more efficient for families and staff to reach the right people in the right department.”
Leveraging Let’s Talk for data for decision making
Historically, staffing needs may have been driven by anecdotal feedback — now, the district has data from Let’s Talk to identify specific times throughout the school year additional temporary staff might be required and determine what departments need more resources to ensure the best customer service
“Tracking unfulfilled tickets closely, we can better understand and assess department dynamics,” said Dr. Swinyard. “Let’s Talk provides insights regarding resource allocation, helping us make strategic and data-driven decisions.”
For example, SPS could receive an influx of Let’s Talk tickets regarding questions about student I.D’s. The district can use this data to understand that it’s likely a systems issue. Equipped with these insights, SPS could update their website and send out more communications to students and families about student I.D’s. This wouldn’t be possible without Let’s Talk.
Let’s Talk is the district’s go-to platform for communications
SPS has successfully integrated Let’s Talk into its website and communications strategy, resulting in a noteworthy uptick in user engagement. Email communication is less frequent, as there has been a shift towards Let’s Talk as the primary problem-solving platform. The impact is powerful with fewer emails lost in shared or individual email boxes and improved transparency across the district on who is communicating with who and what message has been sent.
“When we launched Let’s Talk, we promoted it as the fastest communication method, especially during high-volume periods like enrollment and the start of school,” said Dr. Swinyard. “We found that steering users towards this platform is not just about submitting requests, but also about preserving trust with users. Timely responses and comprehensive management of the platform is part of that trust.”
A vital tool for the superintendent
As a superintendent, Let’s Talk provides a reliable channel to redirect concerns and to monitor issues.
“Let’s Talk has become an integral part of my daily routine, allowing me to get a pulse quickly and providing insights into the issues of the day. The decline in Let’s Talk tickets due to issues being resolved at the lower level is also notable,” said Dr. Swinyard. “At events and meetings, I have always recommended using Let’s Talk for faster responses. The platform is also great for discerning if an issue is widespread or isolated.”
Looking ahead to a promising districtwide Let’s Talk implementation
SPS’ adoption of Let’s Talk has laid a robust foundation for the future. As the district prepares for a districtwide implementation, adding the remaining schools into the platform. Dr. Swinyard feels optimistic about the promising outcomes.
“Let’s Talk provides one place for our entire district community to go with their questions, comments and concerns — and it’s made a substantive difference,” said Dr. Swinyard. “The platform is a testament to the power of accessible and responsive communications and has allowed us to build a connected and engaged district community.”
Ready to streamline inbound communications, identify problems before they become crises, and make data-driven decisions in your school district? Let’s schedule a time to demo our solutions and talk about how K12 Insight can help.