No matter what business you’re in, high quality customer service is one of the main keys to success.
In this day and age of texting and self-centeredness, some of the basics of good customer service have been lost.
Plattsmouth Community Schools wants to ensure its “customers” – parents, students, community members and visitors – have the best service its staff can provide regarding questions and concerns about the district.
“A few years ago, the district decided to focus on more customer service, so we developed a survey and asked staff and community members what we needed to focus on,” said PCS Superintendent Dr. Richard Hasty.
Hasty said 131 individuals responded to the survey and from their answers, the district developed five main precepts for non-certified and certified staff to focus on to upgrade the level of customer service at each school.
The first precept is listening.
“In order for people to feel like they have been heard, you have to actually listen to what they have to say,” Hasty explained.
Sometimes, internal conflicts, noise distractions or the development of a response interfere with the actual listening process. If a person concentrates on just what a person is communicating to them, the chance of resolving problems or answering questions with the best answers improves.
A second concept that came out of the survey is acknowledging mistakes. “As far as customer service goes, you enhance communication the quicker you acknowledge a mistake, apologize for it and affirm you will make an effort to prevent the mistake in the future,” Hasty explained.
Hasty said he believes the third principle of responding in a timely manner is key to successful communication. “The big focus right now is that we want teachers, support staff and administrators to respond to anyone within one day. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be resolved in one day, but it gets communication going,” he said.
Taking longer to respond is confusing to a person with a concern or question. “They start wondering, ‘Did they get my message?’ or ‘Do they not care about my concern?’” Hasty explained. “It fosters a lot of unknowns, which can create a lot of unnecessary anxiety and frustrations.”
Better to respond with, “We received your message and are following up on it. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible,” Hasty explained. “If we don’t respond in a timely manner, it will create many more problems that will take even more time to resolve. Responding helps minimize misperceptions. If you wait, people come up with their own misperceptions.”
The fourth precept is own the problem and attempt to resolve. This goes along with the second, which involves owning up to mistakes.
“Own the problem and attempt to resolve it,” Hasty said. “If there is an area of responsibility, I take it on myself as a person overseeing that responsibility. And then, I try to follow up and try to resolve the issue. Communication is part of our jobs whether you are the custodian, para-educator, teacher or administrator.”
The last concept involves maintaining eye contact and giving a friendly greeting such as “Hello. Can I help you?”“Those are always helpful,” Hasty said.
Hasty said they will develop a nomination form for students, staff members and/or community members to use to recommend a person for a Customer Service Award on a monthly basis.
“Certified and non-certified staff members can be nominated for exceptional service,” Hasty said. “They can be nominated by anyone – a staff member or community member.”
The applications are not quite finished yet but will include a description of what the person did to demonstrate exceptional customer service, Hasty explained.
“The intent is that everyone nominated for an award would get a certificate and be invited to a reception with coffee and some donuts or something,” he said.
James Fabian of Farmer’s Insurance is also donating gift cards as a reward. “Everyone will get a certificate of recognition for their exceptional customer service and that will make them eligible for a drawing for a gift card,” Hasty explained.