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K-12 Leaders Believe Customer Service is Key to Establishing Trust, Even Though Schools Lack Vital Training and Resources to Meet Community Needs

First-ever national study on school customer experience reveals "invisible thread" in school quality debate

HERNDON, Va., Oct. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- As school crises continue to dominate national and local headlines, a first-ever national study reveals that school leaders view an intentional focus on customer experience as essential to building and maintaining community trust.

Published by K12 Insight, with support from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and the National School Boards Association, the 2019 State of K-12 Customer Experience Report (www.k12cxreport.org) includes feedback from more than 500 school leaders and represents the first research effort of its kind to link school quality and culture to the school customer experience.

"In talking with school leaders, we had long suspected that there was this sort of invisible thread underlying community trust and school success," said K12 Insight CEO Suhail Farooqui. "We've been working with schools for more than a decade and discovered there was very little in the way of credible research and metrics about the impact of customer service and community engagement on the school experience, so we went back to our roots as a research organization and asked some very pointed questions. The response was tremendous. School leaders from all over the country told us customer service is as important to their strategic plans as teaching and learning. The problem is that they don't have access to the right resources or training to support it. The report suggests an intentional commitment to K-12 customer service can help to change all that."

The findings come as several U.S. public school districts look to reverse a troubling trend: declining enrollments and shrinking FTE budgets amid increased competition from charter schools and other alternatives.

Among the key findings released today as part of national Customer Service Week:

  • An overwhelming majority of school leaders (90%) view building trust as very important to their strategic goals.
  • While building trust is a strategic priority for most school leaders, just slightly more than half (52%) are very confident in their ability to achieve this goal.
  • When asked specifically about customer service, three-fourths (76%) of school leaders said it was very important, but less than half (45%) felt very confident in their ability to provide high-quality customer service.
  • Seventy-nine percent of school leaders said parents and students receive high-quality customer service from their districts. When asked about the quality of internal customer service provided to employees, that number dipped slightly to 72%.
  • One-tenth (10%) of all school leaders said they had no confidence in their district's ability to deliver a high-quality customer experience.
  • A majority of school leaders (71%) say that school culture and climate surveys are their primary means of tracking and measuring school customer service.
  • School leaders who reported using a variety of tools to measure customer service, including training and technology, indicated a higher degree of confidence in their ability to deliver stronger overall customer experiences.
  • School leaders representing smaller school districts (less than 75,000 students) reported a higher level of customer service satisfaction than school leaders representing larger districts (more than 75,000 students.

In addition to these and other findings, the report includes a series of practical recommendations and examples of customer service standards to consider in evaluating school-based customer service programs.

"Trust is built when school leaders commit to listening and engaging with their communities," said Thomas J. Gentzel, National School Boards Association Executive Director and CEO. "The K-12 Customer Experience Report refers to the sum of these engagements as the school customer experience, which is a responsibility all school leaders share, from the school board and superintendent, to principals, teachers and district staff."

"Information is at the core of self-assessment and continuous improvement," said Gentzel. "The report's findings and recommendations provide a good resource to help school board members and other leaders reflect and, as needed, redirect their efforts in continuously creating outstanding teaching and learning environments for all public school children."

"School communication professionals fully understand their roles in building confidence and trust in their schools and districts," said Rich Bagin, APR, and NSPRA Executive Director, adding that the research identifies critical training and motivational gaps standing between schools and a positive customer experience.

"In today's world, school customer service must play a larger and more effective role in building and maintaining student enrollment as well as helping schools retain high-quality teachers and staff," said Bagin. "Customer service has always been critical to school success. Now, school leaders and boards have data to finally do something about it."

To learn more about the K-12 State of Customer Service Report, please join us for a free webinar Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. EST hosted by Education Week. To register, please visit https://webinars.on24.com/edweek/CustomerService?partnerref=SPONS.

About the State of K-12 Customer Experience Report
The 2019 State of K-12 Customer Experience Report represents the first-ever national study created to help school leaders assess, inform and improve the quality of customer experience in the nation's K-12 public schools. 2019 was the first year of the study, with plans for updated questions and results in subsequent years.

About K12 Insight
K12 Insight provides a powerful community engagement and customer experience platform, combining professional learning, expert analytics and industry leading research to help school leaders deliver remarkable customer experiences for students, parents, teachers and staff. For more information about K12 Insight, please visit www.K12Insight.com.

Press Contact:
Rob Kremer
(404) 218-3077

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