service matters

Why School Customer Service Matters

Customer service is the number one reason parents cite for exercising school choice. Find out how you rank compared to other like-sized school districts across the country.

Why school customer service matters for district leaders

One-third of parents don’t know where to go when they have a question. 25% of parents “distrust” or “feel neutral” about their school district. The era of school choice has arrived — and when students leave your schools, their dollars go with them. Losing just 5 students can cause a budget shortage equivalent to one full-time teacher’s salary.

Customer service is no longer a “nice to have” for school districts. It’s a necessity. 

What you need to know

What is school customer service?

In K-12 schools, customer service is an intentional, data-driven approach to two-way communications that gives customers the ability to ask questions and share feedback while having the confidence their question, concern, or comment is getting to the right person in the right department.

Transformational benefits of customer service
Understand your customer service delivery

The four phases of school customer service

For decades, school districts haven’t needed a customer service strategy.

Because students simply attended the school nearest to their homes, districts focused on outbound communications to their families to share necessary information. 

But today, families have choices — and high expectations — meaning school districts need processes and systems in place to ensure positive customer experiences in every interaction. 

Over the past decade, K12 Insight has worked with hundreds of school districts around the country to find out what superior customer service looks like in K-12. 

We’ve found that the journey of customer service in schools is broken up into four phases. Read on to find out which phase of customer service delivery your school district is currently in — and how to advance to the final stage.

Phase 1

Reactive customer service

Reactive customer service is characterized by: Staff who are unaware of how daily interactions with customers influence district success; siloed communications; a lack of customer service metrics; dissatisfied parents. In this stage, it's clear a change is needed.
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Phase 2

Tactical customer service

Tactical customer service is characterized by: A vision for districtwide customer service; specific customer service training for key staff; customer service data that is evaluated but not aggregated for insights.
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Phase 3

Strategic customer service

Strategic customer service is characterized by: A customer service vision that is communicated districtwide; specific customer service training on processes and best practices for all frontline staff; consistently captured customer service metrics.  
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Phase 4

Customer-centric service

Customer-centric service is characterized by: The recognition of customer service as a districtwide core value; simple, swift, and reliable customer service; the use of customer service metrics as a single source of truth; satisfied parents.
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Find out exactly where your school district ranks

Understanding K-12 customer service

The pillars that define K-12 customer service

Each phase is determined by a school district’s performance in three categories: Processes and workflows, use customer intelligence and technology, and district culture.

Data-driven school districts are successful school districts. Perform quality checks on your customer service by measuring customer satisfaction with their districtwide experience. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to deliver superior customer service, but to ensure you’re hitting the mark, you need to collect metrics on every interaction.

Collecting data and making relevant change requires streamlined, efficient, and logical backend workflows.

Intentionally designed, customer-centric district culture is closer than it seems — the first step is ensuring communications access to every family in your district.

The benefits of superior customer service

Transformational benefits of customer service
Advance to the next phase

How to improve customer service in your school district

The first step toward adopting a districtwide culture of customer service  

Including customer service goals in your strategic plan is a great start, but the truth is: Your district needs an intentional plan with clear tactics, timelines, and metrics.

Our team of K-12 customer service experts have one recommendation for every district’s first step on the customer service journey: Implement a tool that allows you to create a unified, streamlined communication flow

Every district is measured in large part by their ability to provide quick, accurate answers to their community. 

A unified inbox with automatic inquiry routing allows your families to get to the right person right away, every time. This, in turn, allows staff across the district to provide quick responses and deliver great customer service. This increases the trust families have in your district and the district leaders (like you) who make important decisions every day. This ultimately leads to families staying in the district, allowing you to retain the funding on which you rely. 

It’s a domino effect! Features as seemingly simple as backend communications workflows and ticketing systems truly can and do have an impact on the overall functionality of your entire district. 

Adopting a customer service mindset — and backing it up with a functional customer service and intelligence platform — will build trust capital, improve family and community engagement, generate public support for key initiatives, and foster a positive school environment.

Hint: You can start by asking these four questions in your next leadership meeting.