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Building Trust with Customer Experience: The Invisible Thread

For years, the American public has been fed the line that public schools are failing. The current wave of this can be traced as far back as A Nation at Risk, which, like so many well-intentioned studies, has been used by pundits and hucksters of all stripes to peddle fear-mongering and sensationalism about public schools for narrow financial and political gains.

Like every enterprise, public and private, our schools have room for improvement. But the notion that traditional K-12 schools are failing is wrong and, left unchecked, corrodes public trust. This corrosion of trust fuels public policy that systematically defunds public schools and stigmatizes the teaching profession.

The good news is that America’s public schools are starting to respond to that corrosion of trust. Slowly but surely they are learning that the public’s perception is shaped not just by student achievement but by the quality of the experiences that parents, students, teachers, staff and taxpayers have when they interact with their local schools. An intentional approach to customer service and customer experience has started to appear as a key objective in school district strategic plans.

That’s why we launched the State of K-12 Customer Experience Report. Our goal was to uncover just how far school leaders have come in recognizing the invisible thread that connects customer experience with the level of trust in their schools and district leaders. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have had NSPRA and NSBA — two of public education’s foremost professional organizations — partner with us in this endeavor.

Our schools have provided customer service for as long as schools have existed: parents call when a bus is late, teachers reach out to human resources about payroll, students report bullying and taxpayers legitimately wonder why they should support a bond that will increase their taxes. But an intentional focus on how to handle these interactions, complete with professional development and metrics, is an exciting emerging area — one that has the potential to change the culture and climate of our schools and restore the brand of public education.

To download the full State of K-12 Customer Experience Report visit k12cxreport.org