- About one-third of parents surveyed said they don't know who to reach out to when they have a school-related question, issue or service need, according to a poll conducted by K12 Insight, a company focused on school customer engagement.
- Nearly half of parent respondents — 43% — said they are open to receiving automated answers to their questions. That figure is expected to increase as people who grew up familiar with technology begin to make up a larger portion of parents with school-aged children.
- The company said survey results indicate a need for schools and districts to help parents know who to contact or what resources to use as they seek answers to specific needs. Districts that have reliable and responsive approaches for parent-school communications will be perceived as more dedicated to customer service, a report on the findings said.
Overall, the survey found high levels of satisfaction when interacting with schools. About three-fourths (74%) of survey respondents said they are "always" or "often" able to reach the right person to help them with their needs. Only 8% said they were "rarely" or "never" able to connect with the right person.
But if one-third of parents said they don’t know who contact, that could mean that in a district with 30,000 students, about 10,000 parents may have their emails and phone messages misdirected or misplaced, the report said. This miscommunication can take more staff time to resolve and lead to delays in responding to parents’ questions and concerns.
“In today’s highly competitive education environment, school districts need to make it as easy as possible for families to get answers, find information, and share feedback," said Krista Coleman, chief customer officer at K12 Insight, in a statement.
The survey also found that parents who reached out to school districts more frequently — or more than once during a 90-day period — about academic or behavior issues reported lower levels of district courteousness compared to those parents who only reached out once or never during the same time period.
When asked about levels of satisfaction in school communications regarding educational logistics, both parents who are engaged frequently and sparingly reported high levels of districts' courteous responses. This indicates better satisfaction levels when parents engage with districts about topics that have less emotional investment.
"Understanding the drivers of perceptions of courteousness is one factor in determining how the school family as a customer would like to be served — and how often," the report on the survey findings said. The survey included responses from 1,511 parents and guardians.
The survey also inquired about parents' opinions about automated school communications. Parents reported higher preference levels for automated messages for activities such as accessing student grades, transportation, and school openings or closings.
But less than 50% of parents said they favored automated communications for more personalized activities such as special education support services, student academic performance and behavior.