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What you should be thinking about ahead of back-to-school

back-to-school with Let's Talk!

Gearing up for another school year can be hectic. 

Everyone from teachers to school and district leaders to students and families have a lot on their plates—and a lot of questions. 

In fact, school leaders who work with us at K12 Insight report that half of parent and community inquiries occur during the opening months of the school year–starting with the “August onslaught” prior to students’ arrival and continuing into September and October as students and parents settle in.

That’s why back-to-school is such a vital time to create positive relationships with community members. 

A smooth start to the school year relies on open lines of communication and ensuring a positive experience for internal and external customers. But what does that really mean? And, more importantly, what does that look like in action? 

Here are five ways you can leverage Let’s Talk!, K12 Insight‘s customer experience and community engagement solution, to get ahead of back-to-school and set you up for success the rest of the school year.

1. Start with safe schools

Safety is—and should be—top of mind for any school leader throughout the entire year. As you embark on a new school year, it’s worth reevaluating safety measures to ensure physical and emotional safety. 

Districts such as Spring ISD (TX), Temecula Valley USD (CA), Tuscaloosa City Schools (AL), and Manor ISD (TX) use Let’s Talk! to run bullying reporting systems, ensuring potential instances of bullying are appropriately investigated and resolved. 

Other districts use Let’s Talk! to power an online portal, such as Keep Osceola Safe at the School District of Osceola County (FL), where students, parents, and staff can ask safety questions, report bullying, or report a threat. With the option to submit anonymously, Let’s Talk! helps everyone feel comfortable reporting potentially sensitive situations—encouraging students and others to speak up in instances where they otherwise might not. 

2. Implement Let’s Talk! at the school level

Strong, trusting bonds between school and home rely on making it easy for students, families, and others to reach out when they have a question or concern–and know they’ll get a response. This is especially critical during the busiest times of the school year, like back-to-school. That’s why districts like Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD use Let’s Talk! to empower their frontline leaders to effectively engage with community members. Megan Overman, the district’s director of communications, says this approach has led to a better customer experience for the district.

3. Drive departmental efficiencies

An increase in inquiries from a variety of channels—phone, in-person, social media, email—are enough to cripple any team during the critical back-to-school period. Let’s Talk! helps departments manage inquiries from start to resolution, drive internal efficiencies, and improve the customer experience. Here’s how a few various departments can benefit from Let’s Talk!: 

Transportation
With the start of a new school year comes an influx of transportation questions and concerns. Where is the bus stop? Has the route changed? When will my child be dropped off? In 2015, Georgia’s Richmond County School System received more than 1,000 inquiries from parents and community members regarding transportation—resulting in what Kaden Jacobs, the district’s director of communications, describes as an “awful first day of school.” The department used Let’s Talk! to create a culture of customer service and accountability that helped them build trust and restore faith in the transportation department. See how they did it

Human Resources
At Fort Bend ISD in Texas, recruiting, developing, and retaining the very best talent is a top priority. For the district’s HR department, this means quickly and effectively serving a large volume of internal customers, ranging from current and former employees to potential hires. As Gwyn Touchet, the district’s executive director of human resources, describes it, the department was consistently flooded with HR inquiries, especially during the peak hiring season in spring and summer. To streamline communication and ensure everyone receives a timely, accurate response, the HR department introduced Let’s Talk!—which Touchet says helps them level-up and improve the department’s reputation.

Information Technology
In addition to using Let’s Talk! to increase community engagement, Ohio’s Youngstown City School District uses Let’s Talk! to power their IT and help desk ticketing systems. “Employees really like it,” says John LaPlante, the district’s chief information officer. “They like the ability to receive and resolve work orders on their phones.” Another benefit? The backend data dashboard that presents district leaders with key metrics about the quality and status of each engagement which they can then use to improve the customer experience.

4. Combat phishing scams

With an increase in phishing attacks and ransomware scares in K-12 school districts, cybersecurity should be top of mind this coming school year. To keep information secure and avoid potentially costly impacts, many district leaders are going beyond standard cybersecurity measures and entirely rethinking the way their districts communicate. One strategy is to replace email addresses on school and district websites (making it harder for hackers to “scrape”) with Let’s Talk!. Plus, the tool makes it easier to track and respond to inquiries. 

5. Increase community engagement

Ensure every member of your community feels empowered to speak up this school year by making it as easy as possible for them to reach out about the topics that matter most. Some districts are doing this by introducing texting as another means of reaching out to the school or district, empowering everyone–including those with limited access to computers or Internet–to have a say in important school issues. Other districts have taken a more targeted approach by launching specific feedback campaigns around hot topics, such as boundary modification, school calendar, and back-to-school. 

See how Let’s Talk! can help you get ahead of back-to-school by signing up for a free consult.  Already have Let’s Talk! and want to learn more about how this can work in your district? Contact your strategic account executive today.

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About the Author

Kyle Freelander
Kyle Freelander is the Customer Marketing & Communications Manager at K12 Insight.

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