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How chatbots have changed the game for customer service in schools

Six chatbot facts for superintendents and chief information officers

A chatbot is a computer program that interacts with humans through auditory or textual methods such as speech or text chat.

As a district leader, you may have hesitations around chatbots. 

I specialize in implementing chatbots at K-12 school districts across the United States. AI-powered chatbots help school districts provide always-on customer service, create internal efficiencies, and improve the customer experience — giving stakeholders an avenue to get answers to frequently asked questions 24-7.

As you consider how a chatbot can play a role in your district’s digital transformation, I wanted to share six facts about chatbots to review with your chief information officer to help you understand how a chatbot can help your school district deliver superior customer experiences:    

1. Chatbot technology has made vast strides in a very short span of time.

If you had a bad experience with a chatbot even a few years ago, I’d urge you to be open to seeing how chatbots have evolved in a few short years.

With the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots have become proficient in correctly answering FAQs asked in a variety of ways and using customer input to continue learning and improving.   

2. Not all chatbots are the same. Choose a chatbot built for K-12. 

A chatbot worth your time leverages the most advanced Machine Learning and Natural Language platforms developed by the finest data scientists over the past two decades. 

As a district leader, you can take this technology a step further by taking a look at Let’s Talk Assistant — the first chatbot built specifically for K-12 school districts using data analysis from over 300 school district partners across the nation. It uses one of the world’s most powerful machine learning engines built by Google.

3. You’d be mistaken in thinking no one will use a chatbot. 

Sometimes our own biases shadow reality. The average parent and staff member is in their early to mid 30s. These digital natives are comfortable adopting new digital tools and are often more comfortable typing a question than picking up the phone to ask one.

This is the generation that grew up on Twitter, shops on Amazon, orders food on Doordash, and travels through Uber. These younger parents have a much higher expectation of customer service at their child’s school. They also prefer self-help tools to making calls.

As you work with your chief information officer and district IT team to drive your district’s digital transformation, set aside your personal views on chatbots and consider your stakeholders’ demographics and communications preferences.

4. Chatbots save staff time and reduce PR risks. 

A good number of school districts — including many in Florida — have successfully deployed chatbots. Email is labor-intensive and cumbersome, and 70 percent of questions coming into school districts are repetitive. A chatbot — which can accurately and reliably answer 80% of questions — can free up staff, giving your staff more time for complex inquiries that require personalized attention.

In addition, chatbots help your district deliver effective and engaging service, easier, and quicker. Timely responses translate to fewer tweets and runaway PR issues, and stronger connections and trust in your community.

5. “Parents like to talk to a real, live human” is no longer a good argument. 

Some parents do need and prefer the personalized communication delivered by interacting with a staff member.

Providing the option for digital self-service lets the stakeholder communicate in the manner they most prefer — giving staff more time to serve the stakeholders who have nuanced requests or prefer the in-person experience.

In addition, a chatbot like Let’s Talk Assistant can help you provide equitable access to customer service to Spanish-speaking families — without having to add extensive bilingual personnel on staff.

6. A standalone chatbot won’t do you much good. 

The economic stakes are high. The number one reason parents cite for exercising “school choice” and pulling out their child is bad customer experience.

What districts need is a comprehensive customer experience and intelligence platform that includes chatbot capabilities. K12 Insight — a leading innovator of customer experience solutions for schools — offers the only all-in-one, enterprise-wide customer experience and intelligence platform built for education. 

With Let’s Talk, school districts can streamline inbound communications through automation, a powerful CRM platform, and an AI-enabled chatbot. 

Want to learn how your district can deliver superior customer experiences — for students, families, teachers, and staff — with Let’s Talk? Request a free demo.

By Rebecca Kabir
Originally published March 14, 2022 Last updated January 10, 2024