School districts can benefit from taking a customer service approach to interactions with parents and staff to improve collaboration and communication. This article starts to ask questions such as:
- What does customer service look like in an educational setting?
- What techniques should you utilize to implement this methodology in your district?
- What steps can you take to avoid falling into the poor customer service trap?
What does Customer Service look like in an educational setting?
Typically, when you think of customer service, you envision a business setting and mentality but in today’s realm, it should become an integral part of all school districts’ methodology. Staff, volunteers, and parents are, in fact, your “customers”.
Good customer service in business means:
- Paying attention to the needs of your customers
- Providing a simple way for your customers to communicate with you regarding issues or concerns
- Promptly responding to questions and concerns of your customers
- Maintaining transparency in communication so your customers understand your processes
What techniques should you utilize to implement this methodology in your district?
A good start is to ensure that doing “business” with you is easy. Having frustrated parents and staff will most definitely cause hiccups in the daily operations of your district. Frustration can also fuel the spread of risk to your districts’ reputation.
Simplifying your business operations so parents and staff can spend less time processing paperwork and making phone calls is a smart step in creating and maintaining a happy district. Many districts have chosen online solutions to augment their face-to-face interactions. Gone are the days when online solutions are considered impersonal. Now, these solutions are considered efficient and easy for parents.
In addition, a technique to employ for good customer service is to ensure you stick to your word. Even the most organized district can have issues that happen unexpectedly and suddenly you’re left scrambling to meet a deadline; however, if you can provide reasonable expectations to your “customers”, create some wiggle room for a deadline, for example, it will ease the pain of unexpected delays. Also, creating a transparent, efficient method of communication between your district staff and parents will allow you to convey any delays quickly and professionally.
What steps can you take to avoid falling into the poor customer service trap?
Nobody plans to subject their customers to a poor “business” experience so to avoid as many problems as possible, it is a good idea to be cognizant to what typically causes a positive customer experience to go awry.
Another important step in creating good customer service is striving to exceed customers’ expectations, not just meeting them. A basic step that is often overlooked is making sure you are ‘listening’ to your staff, parents, and students. It is too easy to speak first and then listen – find out what the issues are before quickly trying to solve.
Finally, when you make customer service a priority in your district, you will experience an increase in productivity and efficiency and thereby instilling a customer service-based culture in your district.