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Your next strategic plan will be your best yet: A how-to guide for district leaders

Seemingly unrelated issues in your district are likely connected by one common thread: poor customer service. Here’s exactly how to fix it in your next strategic plan.
3 minutes

Strategic plans play a vital role in the future success of a school district. Plans with clarity, engagement, and consistent reflection bring the district community together around one common goal: providing a better educational experience for every student. 

Whether you’re in the midst of the strategic planning process or you’re revisiting your strategic plan soon, I encourage you to consider customer service as a top priority. 

District families have high expectations. So how can school leaders use their strategic plans to ensure learning and student wellness stay top-of-mind — while working to support teachers through staffing challenges, navigating communications crises, and fighting against declining enrollment? 

It starts with customer service

30% of K-12 families reported not knowing where to go when they have a question or concern. 

Why customer service must be a priority on your strategic plan 

Most strategic plans include a financial goal, a governance-leadership goal, and a student performance goal. Customer service fits into all of those sections (and more). 

Declining enrollment is one of the most important factors in a district budget — just one lost student can have an impact on funding. 

And the number one reason parents cite for exercising “school choice” and pulling out their child is poor customer experience — the feeling of “not being heard” results in an ineffective customer service model.  Current research shows that it is not only the feeling of being heard, but also the families ability to seamlessly navigate through the district to meet their personal student and family needs.

It is no secret that there is a new and concerning perceived lack of trust in public schools across the country, but there is a connection between “customer satisfaction” and public trust in a school district: the higher the satisfaction, the greater the trust. 

The greater the trust, the more likely a family is to recommend the school or district to a friend or neighbor.

If your district already has a family or community engagement goal in its strategic plan, expanding it to include an intentional, well-planned customer service plan can help ensure positive experiences to your school community to make sure they leave each experience feeling satisfied. 

Customer service can be a game-changer for building trust in your community, supporting and maintaining school staff, and keeping enrollment steady.  

Customer service goals for your district’s strategic plan

Here are some statements that can be modified and added to your school district’s strategic plan as a customer service goal: 

  • Improve stakeholder satisfaction with district- and site-level communications
  • Improve the percentage of parents who would recommend their child’s school to a family member or friend
  • Increase the number of families who participate in school events
  • Streamline communications platforms within the district and its schools
  • Utilize a districtwide communications platform for two-way communications
  • Provide opportunities for families to share their feedback about the district and its schools

The team at K12 Insight helps hundreds of school districts around the country make customer service a priority in their strategic plans. If you’d like to explore how you can make customer service a reality in your district, get started with a free, no-obligation workshop for your cabinet and district leadership team.

By Greg Plutko, Ed.D.
With over 25 years as an educator, Greg Pluto, Ed.D., brings deep experience leading school districts across California in roles including superintendent, deputy superintendent, assistant superintendent, administrative director, and principal and assistant principal. Plutko earned his bachelor’s degree in history, a teaching credential, and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration, all from APU, and a doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne.
Originally published May 11, 2023 Last updated December 1, 2023