The ways parents and staff feel about your schools can have a big impact on performance. Yet, 70% of districts have no yardstick by which to measure the impact of their customer service. These three key metrics can make all the difference.
If you’ve been tracking along with our ongoing series on school customer service, we’ve made the following assertions so far:
- There is no reason to limit your view of customer satisfaction to feel-good anecdotes. For customer service to have real impact in your schools, it has to be measured and quantified (what that means for you).
- If you’re going to measure the impact of customer service, you’ve got to do this work at the department and campus level. That’s the only way to know what’s really working. (5 takeaways from work with 500 districts).
Pockets of innovation are great — and every district has a few. But school systems that aspire to be known for their service, and the strength of their relationships with families and staff, must be intentional about their approach.
What does an intentional approach to school customer service look like?
Research shows that most school districts (more than 70%) do not yet track any form of customer service metrics. That means more than two-thirds of the nation’s school leaders have no yardstick by which to measure how their schools make stakeholders feel.
Of the roughly 30 percent of districts that do prioritize customer service metrics, a fundamental set of core benchmarks have emerged.
- Trending topics – School leaders say they can gauge how their community is feeling by the types of questions and/or concerns being raised. If the focus of inbound questions is academics, for example, that’s a good sign. But when the narrative is dominated by non-academic concerns — safety or transportation, for example — tensions quickly rise.
- Response time – Districts that track how long it takes to resolve questions from parents and staff suggest time is a key benchmark of overall community satisfaction. Community members respect that some answers take time. What they don’t want is for their questions to disappear into the ether. Districts that get back to community members within 24 to 48 hours report higher levels of community engagement and overall customer satisfaction.
- Cx score – Not all school districts like the idea of inviting feedback from parents or staff for fear of what they might learn. Districts that have the courage to invite this feedback say it helps them allocate resources to the right problems —and, in relatively short order, improves public perception of their schools.
Consider the story of one prominent, high-performing district. Without naming names, we can tell you this district has a reputation as a well-managed school system. Despite several local and national accolades for its accomplishments, persistent transportation-related issues contributed to public frustration and a false narrative of poor customer service.
A flurry of road construction in the region delayed school buses and fueled further angst, especially among parents, who felt busses were running unnecessarily late.
A daily scan of local newspaper headlines and Twitter feeds targeted the superintendent and others for a host of issues. But, as school leaders began to break down the data, they realized they first had to to fix their transportation problem. Doing so, led to more favorable coverage of the district overall. As a result, complaints slowed and public perception quickly improved.
Data tells your story
To understand how your district is performing in the eyes of parents and staff, you need to understand the data. That doesn’t mean you need to analyze every customer interaction. What it means is that you have to find a way to alert your team to outliers that demand your attention. Like a doctor analyzing a blood panel, there is an acceptable range or score. Anything outside of that score raises a flag for further testing. The same should be true for your district’s customer service efforts. Ask parents and staff to rate their experiences with your district. Set a standard acceptable range for those ratings. Anything within that range passes through your filter without incident. Anything outside of that range gets immediately flagged for follow-up. Do this for three months, and you’ll quickly learn the threshold for quality customer satisfaction in your district and identify the triggers that contribute to scores outside of that range. Now, you can begin to have some really rich conversations with your team and the broader school community about the standard for quality customer service in your district.
Not all districts are created equal
No two school districts are entirely alike. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from your peers. With data from more than 500 school systems of all different sizes, K12 Insight can show you how your district is performing relative to customer service compared with your peers.
Absent meaningful data, your district’s customer service efforts are reduced to a collection of anecdotal stories. With these data, you can start to take a quantitative approach to improving the customer experience for every stakeholder.
If this idea interests you, we’d welcome the opportunity to help your district begin its own journey from qualitative to quantitative customer service.
Want to see how two school districts are doing this work, and using customer service data to help welcome parents and staff back this spring? Watch this on-demand conversation with leaders from Dallas ISD and Osceola (Fla.).