School customer service directly impacts parent satisfaction and trust, national report finds

K12 Insight’s inaugural National Report on Parent-School Trust and Engagement analyzes the correlation between school customer service and parent engagement

With so many educational options for the upcoming 2022-23 school year, customer service is vital for building trust, increasing parent satisfaction, and keeping families in K-12 public school districts, according to a new report published by K12 Insight today. 

“Our nation’s public schools have a lot to lose and it is absolutely critical that districts improve customer service to increase family, student, and staff satisfaction,” said Krista Coleman, Chief Customer Officer at K12 Insight. “Every interaction is an opportunity to build trust with stakeholders, and we strongly encourage school districts to read this report because its findings can help to inform a district’s customer service strategies to improve engagement and satisfaction.”

K12 Insight’s National Report on Parent-School Trust and Engagement analyzed survey responses from nearly 450 parents and guardians across the United States who enroll their children in K-12 public schools. The report found a direct correlation between family satisfaction and district-provided customer service: As satisfaction increases, so does trust; and as trust increases, so does the likelihood and frequency of positive recommendations.

The report found that during the 2021-22 school year, 87% of parents reached out to their school district more than once — with 44% reaching out at least six times. In a school district with a student enrollment of 10,000 this can easily become more than 26,000 inbound inquiries in a school year — if not more.

Although parents are reaching out to school districts, they aren’t always satisfied with the responses from staff. In fact, just over 60% of survey participants said there was room for improvement in the helpfulness, timeliness, and courteousness of their customer service experience with the school district. Consequently, the responses from staff that weren’t timely or courteous negatively impacted their level of trust in the district.

Those survey participants who reported being “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the customer service interactions with school personnel were more likely to say they had higher levels of trust in the district. They were also more likely to award the district a higher Net Promoter Score — meaning they would recommend the district to a family member or friend.

Additional key findings of K12 Insight’s report include: 

  • 74% of survey participants were very satisfied or satisfied with the communication they receive from their district 
  • 26% of survey participants said there was either “not enough” or “too much” communication between the school and student families
  • Nearly 70% of parents are reaching out to their child’s district or school by phone or email
  • 70% of parents expect a response within a day

“With the 24-7 news cycle and multiple channels, it’s easy for trust to be weathered by misinformation and a competitive school choice environment,” Coleman said. “What families want in 2022 and the years ahead is a dialogue, not a broadcast, from their school district. They want to be seen, heard, and served. For public schools to thrive in years to come, it’s essential they provide superior customer service to stakeholders because in reality, every parent, guardian and student is a customer.”

The National Report on Parent-School Trust and Engagement is a quarterly report published by K12 Insight that surveys parents and families of children who are currently enrolled in K-12 public schools across the United States. Read the full report. 

For a deep dive into the report’s findings, join K12 Insight for its “Understanding Parent-School Trust and Engagement” webinar, Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. ET. Register for the webinar. 

About the Author

Rachel Esterline Perkins
Rachel Esterline Perkins is the head of marketing communications at K12 Insight. She has experience managing PR, crisis communications, and bond renewal campaigns for K-12 school districts. She is the former director of communications for Davenport University and previously led social media strategy at Central Michigan University. She has a master's degree in higher education administration and a bachelor's degree in public relations from CMU.

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