• Home
  • Blog
  • Transforming customer service in school offices: Strategies for success

Transforming customer service in school offices: Strategies for success

To improve front office customer service, K-12 districts need to increase visibility into issue resolution, track customer service metrics to help make data-driven decisions, and create a customer service mindset through year-round PD for frontline staff.
3 minutes

On every school campus, the front office is the heartbeat of daily operations. From answering parent inquiries to managing student records, office staff play a pivotal role in shaping the experience of students, parents, and staff members. 

But as a district leader, how can you be sure every stakeholder is receiving consistent, positive customer service in their front office interactions? 

The first step is streamlining districtwide procedures around incoming communications so all inbound inquiries come to one, omnichannel, unified inbox solution — like K12 Insight’s Let’s Talk.  

Limiting the tech stack comes with other benefits, too, like cutting down on budget, simplifying new hire onboarding, and reducing duplicative efforts. But most importantly, it allows front office workers to redirect inquiries to the correct person or department in an instant.

For example, it isn’t a parent’s responsibility to know that transportation is a district initiative, and most parents call their child’s school when they have a bussing concern. 

Without a unified inbox, the school’s front office worker might make a note on a Post-It before sending an email to the head of transportation restating the caller’s question. From there the head of transportation might take a day or two to check their email, find the answer, and respond directly to the parent. The original front office worker may never know whether the issue was resolved, the parent could be waiting days for a response, and a record of the interaction would only be stored in the depths of an email inbox or crumpled up in a trash bin. 

With a unified inbox solution, the call can be instantly redirected to the full transportation team where the person best qualified to respond can do so quickly (hint: it may not always be the head of the department!) The caller’s name, email, bus stop number, child’s name and school, and other SIS information would be connected to their phone number in the system, meaning everyone who interacts with the inquiry has the data they need at their fingertips. The parent would get a response quickly, all staff members involved could see the resolution, and a log of the interaction would be stored in the system. 

Sound like a better front office customer service experience? 

Customer service in K-12 front offices requires visibility, prioritization, and — in the AI age — automations to expedite processes whenever possible. 

Advancements in technology have paved the way for transformative changes in how school offices operate. By leveraging workflow automations, K-12 districts can solve one of the most significant challenges faced by school office staff today: Managing the sheer volume of administrative tasks while maintaining a high level of service. 

Especially during busy times of year, workflow automation software can be game-changing for overworked staff. When questions come into Let’s Talk’s unified inbox, AI-powered keyword recognition automatically routes them to the person or department best suited to answer — meaning front office workers are only receiving and managing inquiries directly related to their work.

By centralizing communications and automating routine tasks, school offices can provide a seamless and personalized experience for students, parents, and staff members alike.

But Let’s Talk offers more than just streamlined communications — it also provides valuable insights and analytics to help K-12 school districts make data-driven decisions. The Let’s Talk data dashboard tracks metrics like: 

With these data points — viewable at districtwide, department-specific, or campus-specific levels — leaders can analyze patterns in inquiries to identify areas for improvement and tailor their customer service strategies accordingly. 

But here’s the difficult truth: Districtwide culture and process changes can feel impossible to execute.  

Ultimately, the success of customer service in K-12 school offices hinges on more than updated software. It relies on the skills and expertise of the staff — but that takes intentional, consistent training. One page in an onboarding booklet and a once-a-year PD won’t cut it. 

Businesses known their exceptional customer service, like Chick-fil-A or Southwest Airlines, succeed because that mindset is a deliberate part of their day-to-day operations.

As Harvey MacKay once said, “Southwest Airlines is successful because the company understands it’s a customer service company. It also happens to be an airline.”

From conflict resolution techniques to effective communication strategies, ongoing training equips Southwest Airlines staff with the tools they need to handle any situation with confidence and professionalism. And frontline K-12 workers need the same level of training to execute superior customer service in school offices.  

To empower your district’s front office staff to deliver superior customer service at every touchpoint, focus on these three districtwide changes: 

  1. Increase visibility by routing all incoming inquiries through an AI-enabled, districtwide unified inbox. 
  2. Track customer service metrics to ensure your leadership team is making data-driven decisions (instead of reacting to word-of-mouth anecdotes) 
  3. Create a customer service mindset by prioritizing year-round training for frontline workers 

In the ever-changing landscape of K-12 education, customer service in school offices is critical in shaping the overall district experience of students, parents, and staff members. By embracing workflow automations, enhancing communications data analysis, and investing in ongoing customer service training, K-12 leaders can transform the way stakeholders experience their district.

By Krista Coleman
Krista Coleman is K12 Insight’s chief customer officer. She’s dedicated to helping K-12 school districts across the United States provide superior customer experiences to families, teachers, staff, and other stakeholders.
Originally published March 6, 2024 Last updated March 6, 2024