Nearly every school district recognizes the need for customer service — positive interactions between families and their schools leads to student retention and lends itself to net-new enrollment.
But what many district leaders haven’t yet realized is how large a role customer service plays in every element of a school district’s operations. From transportation to enrollment services to academic achievement — customer service extends well beyond phone calls to one campus’s front office.
And transforming it takes more than a KPI on your strategic plan. That’s why districts need an intentional system for delivering customer service.
Melissa Musselwhite, Director of Student Support Programs and Services at Pasco County Schools, recently shared that “the journey to superior customer service is long but worthwhile. Transforming customer service delivery in our district has had an unbelievable impact, from the way we operate internally to the way our community interacts with us and receives information, everything is streamlined, simple, and accessible.”
Does my district need a customer service transformation?
Seemingly unconnected issues may be tethered by the underlying problem of poor customer service.
Rethinking your customer service system could have a positive impact if you’ve been struggling with any of the following symptoms:
- Enrollment declines
- High staff turnover
- Failed bond proposals
- Negative perceptions of district leadership
- Heated policy and curriculum debates
Negative customer service is the number one reason parents cite for exercising school choice
In the Amazon era, families have high expectations — and because new options for K-12 education are becoming available every year, school districts that don’t take customer service seriously risk falling behind.
A healthy organization with excellent customer service will see fewer complaints during the public comments section of board meetings, fewer crises erupting on social media or online, more families staying with the district from kindergarten through graduation, and improved teaching and learning.
A focus on customer service benefits the school district as much as its stakeholders.
Implementing a customer service system: What will it take?
A true transformation of districtwide customer service takes time and effort.
Our team of experts has worked with hundreds of school districts across the country to reshape customer service delivery and introduce intentional, systematic customer service plans. Here’s what we’ve learned:
- Delivering superior customer service is every department’s responsibility
- Customer service as a districtwide initiative only works when it is genuinely districtwide — starting in the superintendent’s office and extending to every school front office, every bus driver’s route, and every interaction with a teacher, principal, academic leader, or campus staff member
- Effective, lasting customer service transformations take 12-24 months to complete
The details of each customer service plan look different depending on the district’s needs, but the above statements have been true for every successful implementation.
The first step is analyzing the current state of customer service in your school district.
We’ve put together a quick, five-question quiz to help you identify what stage of the journey you’re in. Take the quiz to find out where you should go next.