• Home
  • Blog
  • A 3-step guide to transforming your district's customer service
School leaders discussing their customer service strategy.

A 3-step guide to transforming your district's customer service

As Chief Customer Officer at K12 Insight, I’ve watched hundreds of districts walk the journey to delivering superior customer service — and I’ve learned from them all. Here are the three steps to set any district on the right path.
2 minutes

The process of transforming customer service takes time — that’s no secret. 

And leadership teams from districts around the country are realizing the end result is worth the effort. As Chief Customer Officer at K12 Insight, I’ve seen hundreds of districts struggle to understand why families are leaving, only to realize it has nothing to do with teaching and learning. 

In fact, a large Texas district recently hired an outside agency to perform exit surveys on every family that left their schools, and what they found was astounding: The top five reasons parents cited for exercising school choice weren’t related to the classroom at all — they had to do with customer service

To be the top choice, districts need to earn trust by providing superior customer service in addition to an excellent education.

The “why” matters — but the “how” is even more important. Especially for large school districts, extensive changes (like a shift in internal operations or family communications strategies) can feel daunting.  

In my role, I’ve had the privilege of watching district after district walk on the path to superior customer service, and the following summarizes what I’ve learned. 

Here are the three steps that will set any K-12 school district on the path to ensuring every family has a positive experience: 

Step one: Accept that communications is an ever-changing, always-growing discipline 

No matter how healthy a district is, there will always be a call for “more” or “better” communications. 

While there’s no such thing as the perfect communications strategy, there are tools and solutions that can get districts closer to an ideal, two-way dialogue structure. 

Every quarter, we survey thousands of parents of K-12 students to find out what elements of communications matter most to them, and every quarter we hear the same thing: Access is the missing piece. When parents have questions or need urgent information, they often don’t know where to go. 

Forty-three percent of parents reported they feel comfortable using advanced technologies, like AI-powered chatbots or department-specific texting lines, to receive information. Introducing new features to your district’s communications strategy may not close the access gap completely, but it will certainly help.

Step two: Walk in the shoes of a parent 

For a moment, put yourself in the position of a parent in your school district. Imagine you’re waiting with your child at the bus stop. You’re running late for work, but the bus hasn’t arrived. Who would you call? How easy is it to find the person or department with the information you need? 

When district leaders take themselves out of the administrator mindset and look through the lens of their families, there’s often a lot to be seen.  

I’d recommend going as far as choosing a campus site to visit. Pretend you’re looking to enroll a new student and go through the process as a prospective parent would. Was the staff warm and friendly? Did you leave with additional questions? 

Observe how your staff interacts with families and the communication touchpoints and see if there are opportunities to make it even easier for your families to get the information they need. 

Step three: Analyze the current state of customer service in your district   

Steps one and two lead into step three. Exercises like the “undercover boss” activity in step two help you define your current place on the journey to delivering superior customer service

Tracking customer service metrics is a great way to identify areas of improvement. Start by asking yourself and your cabinet these questions: 

  • How often does our community receive answers within 24 hours? How do we track response time metrics?   
  • If a parent needing help sends the same email to multiple district staff members (one email at a time) how likely is it that multiple staff members duplicate efforts to respond to that person?
  • How confident are we in our knowledge of the top reason people contact each department/campus for customer service each day? 

If you cannot answer these questions, or if your answers indicated a need for growth in your customer service delivery, schedule a free, no-obligation customer service workshop with one of our K-12 experts. 

K12 Insight has helped hundreds of school districts redefine their customer service strategy and transform districtwide communications. How can we help you?

Register today Free customer service workshop
Krista Coleman
By Krista Coleman
Krista Coleman is K12 Insight’s chief customer officer. She’s dedicated to helping K-12 school districts across the United States provide superior customer experiences to families, teachers, staff, and other stakeholders.
Originally published August 2, 2023 Last updated August 2, 2023