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Scottsdale Unified School District: Streamlining Communication Chaos.

Every inquiry from your customers needs to end up in the right hands. But for many districts, inbound communications get lost in a tangled web of silos. Scottsdale USD cut through the noise by setting up automated workflows with Let’s Talk.
2 minutes

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently said “Public schools are approaching a make or break moment” in terms of student attrition, staff shortages, and customer service.  

Intentional districtwide customer service is no longer optional — the shift toward customer-centric, AI-driven personalization and service is here. Without a clear customer focus, districts risk wasting time and resources on surface-level interventions that ignore the root cause of common K-12 obstacles.

Rice University says “a customer-focused strategy is the best way for K-12 schools to reclaim their health,” and AI can simplify, streamline, and automate the journey. 

Luckily, you don’t have to wait to integrate AI into districtwide customer service. And many school districts nationwide have already answered the call. 

One of those forward-thinking organizations is Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), led by superintendent Scott Menzel. In March 2024, K12 Insight had the honor of moderating an AASA-led webinar with Dr. Menzel and Scottsdale’s Director of Communications and Marketing, Kristine Harrington

They shared how they’ve cut through the noise of inbound communications and customer service expectations by setting up automated workflows that ensure every question gets a quick and accurate answer — without the endless backend forwarding.  

Their secret? Let’s Talk, the only customer service and intelligence platform purpose-built for K-12. 

Dr. Scott Menzel, Superintendent of Scottsdale Unified School District 

“It’s hard to quantify how many hours Let’s Talk is saving our team. It’s allowing us to ensure we’re responding quickly and that messages don’t get lost in an email thread. The enhanced customer satisfaction thanks to fast and accurate communications is a priceless value add from Let’s Talk.”

Parents have choices

At the end of the day, school districts are in the business of serving people — and that means the business of connections. To be successful there, two-way communications is critical, but inbound inquiries can often be lost in the shuffle. Every superintendent and district leader needs to ask themselves “How are we ensuring every question is answered?”

We’re in the era of school choice, and student attrition is a bigger issue than ever. Losing just five students can cause a budget shortage equivalent to one full-time teacher’s salary.

But here’s the thing: Students don’t pull themselves out of schools — their parents do. And research proves Dr. Cardona’s statement: The top five reasons parents give for exercising school choice have nothing to do with teaching and learning, but rather the experience they have with their district.

That’s why, in July of 2020, SUSD introduced Let’s Talk to their community. Since then, they’ve used it for superintendent listening, district communications, technology support, and more.

The Let’s Talk difference 

Let’s Talk uses automated, AI-powered keyword routing on every inquiry to ensure questions go directly to the right person or department. That means if a parent asks their school campus a question about bussing, it’ll get rerouted to the district transportation department right away. 

It also offers features like bulk message replies so front office staff won’t waste time responding to the same question over and over, customizable workflows to create automations where staff input was once necessary, and a data dashboard that tracks customer service metrics and KPIs.

Since launching, SUSD has experienced benefits like: 

  • Reduced staff workload and burnout by automating routine tasks and efficiently handling inquiries.
  • Improved communication and accessibility with 24/7 availability, multilingual capabilities, and faster-than-ever responses.
  • Data-driven decision-making through real-time insights and predictive analytics, enabling proactive problem-solving based on metrics rather than anecdotal evidence.

Their favorite feature is a custom workflow that “nudges” dialogues that have gone three days without a response. This all but guarantees no incoming inquiry goes unanswered. 

Introducing generative AI for K-12

Part of Let’s Talk is a generative AI-powered chatbot, Let’s Talk Assistant. Customer interactions and analytics from the chatbot are captured in Let’s Talk for visibility, reporting, and metrics, and school districts nationwide have found fewer and fewer emails in their inbox thanks to the 24/7 support. 

In fact, Virginia Beach City Public Schools has only had 8% of incoming chatbot dialogues require staff resolution since 2021. And Houston Independent School District reduced transportation-related questions by 90% after launching Let’s Talk Assistant!

Let’s Talk Assistant uses data from your school district’s webpages, documents, handbooks, and other PDFs to generate conversational responses to stakeholders. Check out this one-minute video to learn exactly how it works.

Copying SUSD’s success and preparing for the future

You can watch SUSD’s full webinar with AASA here.

“[Let’s Talk] is one of the best decisions I’ve made to enhance two-way communications.” Dr. Menzel and his team at SUSD are champions of positive customer service experiences and quality communications. Luckily, their tech stack is replicable for anyone interested in taking the next step in their district. 

Get started by requesting a no-cost, no-obligation consult today.

By K12 Insight
Originally published March 12, 2024 Last updated May 29, 2024