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Don’t let bad customer service ruin your school’s reputation

Picture this: You just received a delivery from an online retailer, but it’s the wrong item. You call to find out what happened. It takes you 10 tries to get through. Then you get ensnared in a maze of automated voice prompts because the robot on the other end of the call can’t understand the words “customer service.”

Once you do get through, you’re immediately put on hold. Twenty minutes later, a human being answers—finally! But alas, you’re in the wrong department. You’re forced to endure yet more annoying hold music as the process begins anew.

You’ve undoubtedly found yourself in this situation.  As a customer, you want retailers, whose products you spend your hard-earned cash on, to care about your experience or, at the very least, to give you the time of day.

In a recent survey by PH Media Group, 59 percent of respondents said if the first call to a customer service department is not properly handled, they would not buy from that company again.

Now, imagine you are a parent calling a school district and a similar scenario unfolds. If that botched online delivery got you hot, the same laissez-faire attitude toward your child’s education could well send you through the roof.

You would think schools would understand this. But this kind of thing happens more often in education than we’d like to admit.

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’ve heard us float the suggestion that schools begin to view parents and students as “customers.” This wasn’t always such a popular notion. But as the rise of charter schools and other alternatives create competition for students, more educators are warming to the idea.

And while every interaction you have with parents and community members shapes your reputation, few moments are as critical as that first touch point, be it a phone call, an email, or something on social media.

No matter the channel, the thinking should be the same: every interaction is vital.

Every member of your staff needs to have the training and resources necessary to confidently engage with the public. As a school leader, you have to put systems into place to make communication easier for staff to get parents involved. Being labeled unresponsive, or worse, uncaring, is a strike against your reputation from which your school won’t easily recover.

Do you have a system in place to respond to parents and other community members when they reach out to you with questions and concerns? Is it working? Tell us about it in the comments.

Looking for a way to improve customer service and your school district? Try Let’s Talk!