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How states can lead on K-12 customer experience

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly four years since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Since the law took effect, state education agencies and school leaders have been hard at work planning, refining, and implementing state-level measures of progress for K-12 schools.

Veering away from the test-heavy mandates of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era, ESSA aims to reimagine what success looks like in schools by measuring not only grades and test scores, but also the impact of non-academic factors like climate and culture. 

At K12 Insight, our work with school districts across the country has revealed the overwhelming impact a positive customer experience can have on improving school climate and overcoming many of the key challenges facing school districts, from student disengagement and absenteeism to parent dissatisfaction to teacher attrition—even school safety.

We’ve also learned that providing a positive customer experience doesn’t happen overnight. It requires intentionality and focus to ensure that schools can build long-lasting trust with students, parents, and community members.

But, our recently released national State of K-12 Customer Experience Report reveals that while school district leaders see building community trust and improving community engagement as top priorities, they require more resources and training to do this work effectively

While 90 percent of participating school leaders said building trust was very important to their mission, only 52 percent were very confident in their ability to do this work. In addition, only 51 percent of participating school leaders were confident in their district’s ability to engage parents and community members. 

Trust confidence gap State of K-12 customer experience report

It’s clear from this data that school leaders are struggling to fully realize their goals of building trust and effectively engaging their communities. In leading by example, state-level departments of education can play a key role in bringing intentional customer experience to their schools.

So, how can state departments of education inspire and support K-12 districts in building cultures of trust in their schools?

1. Take an intentional approach to customer experience at the state level.

States should embrace creating positive customer experiences in their own interactions with school districts by focusing on tracking and improving responsiveness and feedback scores. Tools like K12 Insight’s customer experience and community engagement solution Let’s Talk! can help state departments of education streamline how they interact with school district leaders and community members. Watch a short overview of how Let’s Talk! works in the video below.

2. Provide districts with the necessary support and resources to understand and focus on customer experience.

State departments of education can be a valuable resource and thought leader for school districts still struggling to provide an exceptional customer experience. State departments of education should consider developing state K-12 customer experience standards and guidelines on which school districts are measured—and provide training and support on how to implement those standards.

3. Measure and manage customer experience.

Once standards are developed and implemented, state departments of education should help equip school districts with the tools and strategies necessary to improve their customer service offerings. One way to do this is by encouraging districts to leverage tools and technology that will help track and improve the customer experience in individual districts and allow states to track the progress of customer experience in schools throughout the state. We’ve already seen similar successful initiatives involving state-developed apps around issues like school safety.

Ready to lead by example in your state? Schedule a free demo today

About the Author

Todd Kominiak
Todd is Managing Editor of TrustED. Email: tkominiak@k12insight.com.

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