Introducing a new customer service plan will bring immense benefits to your school district — but like any worthwhile endeavor, it will also come with challenges, and it’s essential to be prepared for any obstacles that may arise.
As you’re exploring how to implement a new customer service plan for your district, here are six common obstacles to be aware of and actionable strategies to overcome them.
Obstacle #1: Navigating change management
Change, however beneficial, is often met with resistance. Every organization faces challenges when implementing new strategies or approaches, but there are ways to ease the transition.
Solution: Rally key stakeholders in your district around your common goal for customer service.
Indianapolis Public Schools had great success with their Rebuilding Stronger plan, a districtwide initiative that proved extensive change is possible with the right vision, metrics, and partners. They ensured their reason for change was an organizational solution to an organizational problem — not just in one office or for the duration of one project, but across the full span of their district and with the understanding that a school system will never reach a state of “perfect communications.”
Obstacle #2: Managing the transition away from outdated workflows
No matter how inefficient or impractical an existing workflow may be, it still has one big draw for your teams: It’s the one currently being used. Because people tend to favor the comfortable, reconfiguring an outdated workflow may present a new set of challenges for staff and departments.
Solution: A clear implementation roadmap that includes milestones, metrics, and timelines will help guide your districtwide conversations about a new customer service plan. District leadership should focus on communicating the reasons behind the changes and emphasizing the benefits for staff and families.
When done well, a customer service plan brings huge advantages for frontline staff, like significantly reducing the number of repetitive inquiries and shortening call times by streamlining inbound communications and introducing new features like AI-powered chatbots and SIS-integrated call center systems.
Opening two-way communications between the superintendent’s office and other staff will ensure support and elevate access to resources that address potential challenges.
Obstacle #3: Building buy-in
Securing approval and support from stakeholders, including your board, department heads, and principals can be a formidable challenge. Concerns about the cost, potential disruptions, and return on investment of the new plan will all need to be addressed.
Solution: The most successful implementations bring department heads together from the start. Instead of planning in a silo and presenting a finished concept, include key members of your cabinet or district community in the design process.
As a team, determine how a new customer service plan could be most easily executed. Identify points of alignment with your district’s strategic plan, discuss data around the current state of customer service and satisfaction, and what ROI metrics and KPIs each department would need to hit to get on board. After your discussions, build and present a comprehensive business case that highlights the benefits of the new customer service plan.
Obstacle #4: Training on customer service best practices
New initiatives can be game-changing and exciting, but adapting to new customer service best practices during face-to-face interactions can be difficult for frontline staff — especially if they’re accustomed to a different approach. To ensure your customer service plan is successfully implemented districtwide, it’s essential to equip staff with the skills and tools needed to deliver superior customer service with every interaction.
Solution: Implement a robust professional development plan that includes workshops or seminars. Encourage employees to share their experiences and insights to foster a collaborative environment for learning and improvement. Recognition and rewards for employees who excel in applying new practices can also motivate others to embrace change.
Obstacle #5: Ensuring training on and consistent use of customer service software
A customer service plan will have the most success when accompanied by new software. But like anything that disrupts the “old way of doing things,” it could be slow to catch on.
Solution: Prioritize comprehensive training programs that address the needs of employees at all levels. Hands-on training sessions, workshops, and online resources can help employees become proficient with new platforms.
Choose your vendor partners carefully and ask (before you sign on) whether they offer training and a high-quality Client Success team. Consider appointing product champions who can provide ongoing support and troubleshoot issues within their respective teams.
Obstacle #6: Staying the course on the journey to create lasting change
Implementing a new initiative, whatever the theme, can be challenging. Without a clear vision, it can be difficult to stay on track.
Solution: Balance the nuance between data-driven analysis and your instincts as a leader to build a path forward that inspires growth.
In the words of Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, superintendent of Spring Independent School District in Texas, “If we’re going to lead fearlessly, we must be willing to: challenge our vendors, our departments, and ourselves; go after what we need and find data to make our jobs easier; and have tough conversations to ensure we’re getting everything we deserve.”
Overcoming customer service challenges requires strategic planning, open communication, and a commitment to staff engagement. Successfully navigating the journey toward superior customer service takes time, but with the right approach, the benefits will far outweigh the initial challenges.
K12 Insight brings proven experience working with 400+ districts around the country. If you’d like a partner to walk this path with you, start by scheduling a free, no-obligation customer service workshop. These workshops are available to anyone on your team, can be in-person or virtual, and are entirely free-of-charge. Here’s the link to sign up.