Customer service is no longer a nicety but a must-have in schools. How would your school measure up? Learn these three simple tips that can take you to the next level.
For the longest time, school administrators and IT people have used their websites as a place to exchange messages, put up lessons, and generally be a hub for communication. But lately, taking a cue from non-academic groups has become a trend in customer service…and it’s working great.
First, let’s assume you think of everyone who visits your school website as a customer. Of course, you know this already, I’m sure.
You’ve seen lots of businesses deal with customer service—from the days when you picked up a phone, all the way to a chat widget on a website. What’s standing out these days, is the attention to detail and customer service strategy. Companies are really catching on.
Speaking of trends, there are some very interesting things the best customer service departments in the world are doing to make every interaction with their audience amazing. With a few small tweaks, your school’s interactions could be world-class every time someone visits the website.
Tools: Your Customers Might Be Able to Help Themselves
If the information on your site isn’t organized well, visitors will get frustrated and contact you. This creates unnecessary time spent on something that could have been avoided if you had your site organized well. Here’s how to test if your site measures up.
Use tools that give site visitors a chance to find the info easily. Some of these tools even allow a known issue or repetitive question to be answered in the chat box! Intelligent chat boxes significantly improve the customer service experience. Find the one that’s best for you, and take a lesson from the business community.
Words: What You Say Matters, So Much
Are the words you’re using in every piece of communication aligning with the school’s intended message? How about on contact us forms? What about on e-mail messages letting people know the form was filled out? I know, it’s pretty picky, but everything matters here.
I’ve written at length about school websites and how communication can make or break your reputation. After helping build over 500 school websites, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that the school must have a unified message. Without it, the entire community can become confused, and lack of identity can become a problem.
Words and tone must match.
Audience needs come first.
Conversation is a two way street.
These crucial principles, when baked into the website and every interaction on it, can have an extremely positive effect on the school’s reputation, community, and culture.
Processes: This is the Tricky Part, But You Can Do It
Just like anything else building customer service processes into your website’s DNA is important. We all know how fun processes are to create right? Here’s some great places to start.
Collaboration and Community Management – Make sure the website has the opportunity to have a two way conversation.
Intelligent Dialogue Built into Website Systems – Chat boxes, contact us forms, and about us pages should have top-notch content on them that is in line with the school’s message.
Analytical Channels Built Into Each Customer Service Interaction – No matter the size of your school, each customer service interaction should have an easy way to analyze how it went.
Optimized Workforce – When it comes to self help or training someone to man the chat help box, be sure everything is covered and expectations are set.
Consistent Multichannel Support – Website chat, phone support, and cross training should all be in place and measured to effectively service all interactions.
Feedback Management – Someone must own the solicitation, analysis, and improvement of the customer support feedback.
I know, I know. It sounds like a lot of work. And truth be told, it can be—which is why building the right customer support foundation on your site is so important. You’ve got the tools at your disposal above.
There’s another large area that you can use to interact and manage support. Social Media. I don’t suggest advertising that any issue be handled through your social media channels. That can become a nightmare of monitoring comments and messages. What I do suggest is that you apply customer support principles to the social media team so that the brand, voice, and messaging is consistent over all the channels of communication.
This is crucial for two reasons:
If you’re doing your social media right, your audience will probably reach out to you there, and
Your customer support interaction could become public with the click of a button.
There’s a lot of ways you can improve your entire community with an effective school website, but focusing on the customer first is one of the biggest ways you can make an impact for your school.
Bonnie is the founder of School Webmasters and has been helping schools improve their digital presence for over 14 years. She’s managed over 700 schools and loves sharing what she knows about the web.