When it comes to determining the success of a school, we tend to focus our attention on the classroom — and rightly so. That’s why teachers and principals are often first to receive praise for high student performance — and the first to suffer criticism when students struggle.
But the path to student achievement starts long before students sit down in class. To succeed, students need to arrive at school on time, feel safe when they get there, and have the support of a highly-trained staff. That requires the hard work and dedication of school operations professionals who oversee critical divisions like transportation, facilities management, information technology, school safety, and other key aspects of a school’s overall climate.
Operations departments are on the frontline of delivering quality education customer service. But too often that experience is bogged down by overly complex systems of communication. Since students, parents, and the departments need answers — which can make already stressful times of the year (when operations inquiries are at their highest) even worse — streamlining services can be the solution for school operations.
We’ve seen districts with full-page flowcharts outlining the multiple steps (think four or five) a parent must take just to get a question answered about a bus route or lunch issue. These overly complex and needlessly slow interactions can cause community members to become frustrated and shatter their confidence in your district.
Cultivating a strong customer service experience in education is the responsibility of everyone in your schools, especially your operations team. From the school bus drivers who pick students up in the morning to custodial staff who interact with students and faculty throughout the day to the IT professionals who ensure learning and communication continue uninterrupted from the opening bell to afternoon dismissal, school operations need to be focused on since it is so vital in schools. This relies on having efficient systems in place to ensure every student, parent, and community member is responded to in a timely manner.
Here are five school districts whose operations teams are succeeding at turning daily interactions with students, parents, and staff into exceptional and memorable experiences by creating a strong customer experience culture and reducing service complexities.
As you consider your district’s operations strategies, hopefully these stories will give you some ideas on how a stronger education customer service approach can improve your operations.
1. Training Transportation Customer Experience Experts: Harrison County School District 2
School bus drivers are often the first and last school representatives students and parents see each day.
At Harrison County School District 2 in Colorado, administrators wanted to equip bus drivers and other transportation professionals with important customer service training and skills. So, the district held a series of customer experience workshops led by K12 Insight to train team members — from mechanics to bus drivers to dispatchers — on customer service strategies for everyday situations.
“Taking time!” was a key takeaway for one workshop participant. “Slowing down and taking a moment to understand where my ‘customer’ is coming from during my interactions so that I can be a service hero for them to and from school.”
2. Streamlining Services with Transportation: Richmond County School System
Richmond County School System in Georgia knew it had a lot of work to do to improve the customer experience around transportation when — in just one day — it faced more than 1,000 transportation-related inquiries from parents and community members.
So they turned to Let’s Talk, a cloud-based education customer service solution from K12 Insight. Now, a custom button and form on the transportation department’s website enables community members to send inquiries directly to transportation officials. On the backend, the technology immediately routes it to the person best suited to respond and makes it easy for users to collaborate within or across teams for a timely, accurate response.
“One of the things that I like as an administrator is the dashboard component,” says Dewayne Porter, senior director of transportation for the district, “where I can see how we’ve done as far as responding and the feedback that we get.”
3. Moving Beyond the Standard IT Helpdesk: Youngstown City School District
After seeing success using Let’s Talk to better engage its school community, administrators at Youngstown City School District in Ohio set their sights on improving internal-facing customer service.
“We started using Let’s Talk for the customer-focus, community channel side of things and then we branched out to use it for our help desk system,” says John LaPlante, the district’s chief information officer. “Employees really like it. They like the ability to request things online and the trades that use it like the ability to receive and resolve work orders on their phones.”
A backend data dashboard presents district leaders with key metrics about the quality and status of each engagement — such as the number of inquiries, average response times, and customer satisfaction score. School leaders use that data to understand and inform school climate and customer experience.
Want to see how K12 Insight and Let’s Talk will help your operations team contribute to a culture of improving education customer service and the overall customer experience? Sign up for a free consult.