Why it’s Time to Ditch the School District Call Center

When I ask you to think of customer service, what’s the first image that pops into your head?

Please tell me it’s not this:

call-center-guy

Really?

Because that’s not good.

Large school districts spend millions of dollars a year on call center-related services to field questions from parents and community members. There was a time when the call center served as demonstrable proof of a school district’s commitment to customer service.

Times have changed.

Consider this: A recent survey by online marketing company Engagor found that 50 percent of consumers prefer using social media for customer service help, rather than phone calls or email. That number is expected to grow. What’s more, consumers also expect faster responses—72 percent want a reply within an hour.

In the age of Twitter and Instagram, the last thing a parent or other community member wants is to wait on hold while a stranger in a headset connects them to someone’s voicemail.

That’s not to say your school district needn’t worry about customer service. As charter schools and other educational alternatives compete for essentially the same pool of students, your district’s ability to listen and respond to the needs of its community could well be what separates it from the pack.

“Whether or not your traditional contact center is here to stay, customers will no longer put up with long waiting times and an impersonal service through email or phone,” writes Sofia DeBeule for Engagor.

So what’s the solution?

Simple, says Engagor: Ditch the call center and replace it with something better. Something that allows you to field not just phone conversations, but all the different conversations about your schools, be it on social media, through your website, through parent-teacher meetings and so on.

Engagor calls this the Social Contact Center. The idea behind it is simple: Don’t make people come to you. Meet them where they are.

Here’s why you should do it:

  1. It’s cheaper. According to Engagor, it costs five to 10 times more to resolve issues through a call center or in email, than it does over social media. What’s better than being more efficient in how you communicate while also saving taxpayers’ money?
  2. You’ll reach more people. If 50 percent of customers communicate via social media and your district isn’t properly monitoring social media, that’s a big hole you’re leaving. An always-on listening station can gather all communications whether they be calls, emails, or social media posts.
  3. You’ll save customers time. Rather than putting customers on hold for what seems like forever, create a system where they can submit issues online or via social media, and set clear expectations for when they should expect a reply.

Call centers once played an important part in school communications. But with more people communicating in different ways, the time has come to evolve. That, or get left behind.

Looking for an always-on listening station to replace your school district call center? Here’s one solution.

Author: Todd Kominiak

Todd Kominiak is Managing Editor of TrustED.

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