As school leaders look to build public confidence and trust in their schools, district leaders are zeroing in on the customer experience.
By actively soliciting and responding to feedback from students, parents, and community members, the goal is to ensure a positive experience for anyone who engages with the school system.
That includes teachers and staff, writes former school superintendent Dr. Gerald Dawkins:
“Your focus shouldn’t be only on great external customer service. How you treat your internal customers matters a great deal as well. If it takes weeks for an administrative assistant to get his computer fixed; or a teacher can’t get a straight answer about a late paycheck; or a principal has lingering questions about staffing or budgets prior to the start of school, that also reflects poorly on your brand.”
At Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas, recruiting, developing, and retaining the very best talent is a top priority.
Fort Bend ISD serves a large, diverse student population of more than 75,000 students across 78 campuses. With thousands of students and 11,000 full-time employees and substitutes, Fort Bend ISD is the largest employer in Fort Bend County and the seventh-largest district in the state.
For the district’s Human Resources department, this requires serving a large volume of internal “customers,” ranging from current employees to former employees to potential hires.
As Gwyn Touchet, Fort Bend ISD’s executive director of human resources, describes it, the department was consistently flooded with HR inquiries, especially during the peak hiring season in spring and summer. “It was pretty hectic,” she says of the department’s management of incoming questions, comments, and concerns. “We had customer service questions and concerns coming in at us from different ways—from phone, email, and fax to people walking in without appointments.”
More troubling were frustrations expressed by the district’s current employees, including teachers, who couldn’t find timely answers to their questions or concerns.
“We would have internal customers who are already working in the district reach out to someone in HR and that person couldn’t answer their phone. So, the customer would call another person in HR and leave a message,” says Touchet. “Then, they would send another email or call the front desk.”
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Streamlining internal communication
To ensure that every customer received timely answers to their questions or concerns, Fort Bend ISD launched Talent Connection, powered by Let’s Talk, from K12 Insight (K12 Insight produces TrustED). The online portal, accessible through the district website, allows employees and prospective employees to submit questions to the HR department about specific topics, such as onboarding, employee records, or benefits. In each case, the inquiry is directed to a universal inbox, where it is automatically routed to the right person or team of people for a timely response.
An HR turnaround
Since launching Talent Connection, the department has fielded and responded to more than 7,184 inquiries from teachers, prospective employees, and current staff.
In the years that Fort Bend ISD’s HR department has been using Let’s Talk!, Touchet says there has been a clear improvement in the department’s reputation, both among internal customers and externally with families. “The frustration on our customers’ part, from long response times or misinformation has subsided,” she says. “We’re able to provide an exceptional experience, and our customers view our department more positively now.”
The average response time to HR inquiries is now less than 24 hours and the average feedback score–which rates customer satisfaction–is 8.5 out 10.
The district uses what it learns through conversations with staff and others to drive positive internal improvements, such as monitoring and adjusting employee workload and improving focus.
“The amount of time we spend chasing and putting out fires has diminished, and we’re no longer working ineffectively,” says Touchet. “Let’s Talk! enables us to bank that time and focus more on what we need to do to reach the next level.”
Interested in making HR and internal customer service a priority in your district? Want to learn how to effectively engage your teachers and staff? Sign up for a free consult here, or contact your strategic account executive.