My education workshops I am delivering around Australia have allowed me to work with over 3000 educators in the last 12 months. This is an amazing opportunity to see and hear what is happening in schools in both the primary and secondary sector and how and what education they are delivering to their clients and customers.
My mix of business experience and background in education allows me to look at both sectors to see how they interrelate. Thus wearing my business hat I see that a business can only have long term success if they deliver great customer service to their customers and clients. Isn't a school the same as a business in this area??? I believe it definitely is particularly in this current world. I see the "client" as the parents of the students who attend the school and the "customers" as the students who attend the school and the school who delivers the "customer service".
50 years ago parents decided on a suburb they wanted to or had to live. Very few families moved from that suburb, town, city, state or country. If the school in the suburb delivered poor customer service (academic, social, emotional, practical, relevant engagement) then parents just accepted it and the students were pretty much told to put up with what was delivered. We now have a very different environment to 50 years ago. If students (customers) are not happy, engaged, feel valued, are bullied etc at school they will be very vocal to the parents (clients). Parents may give the school an opportunity to improve their customer service by dealing with the issue and improving the performance of the school. Very many parents will then move their child if the school does not resolve the issue and the parents will be prepared to move suburb, town, city, state or even country to get their children a better education from a school that delivers the customer service they are looking for.
No better example of this is in Western Australia right now which is experiencing a very nasty downturn in its economy due to the end of the mining boom. This has resulted in a reduction in salaries, corporate job losses and a heavy tightening of the financial belt by parents. Many parents are looking at the cost of educating their children and weighing up the customer service being delivered by fee paying schools as compared to government schools and even between government schools. Fee paying schools have lost considerable numbers of students and are having to redefine what they offer to customers and clients in the way of customer service to justify the differentials they have over other schools. Simply put, why does a parent pay $25,000 per year per child to get an education that is not greatly different from a government school where the cost is minimal.
Therefore I believe school leadership needs to develop a culture with their staff to find out the needs and wants of their customers and clients and best not take an attitude that the school knows best and delivers what it wants which tended to be the case 50 years ago. Most parents of the current students are working in a world where their they have little or no job security, are transient due to their work circumstances, are competing with Artificial Intelligence and highly value forward thinking education as a way to help their children to gain most success in their lives. These parents have incredible amounts of knowledge, peer reviews, social media etc at their fingertips to make instant comparisons between schools and views from other parents (clients). Maybe it is time that all educators meet with all their clients to get a clear understanding of the clients expectations and ideas. From my experiences in what I have seen and heard from workshops, it seems the schools gaining the most quodos and delivering great customer service are those who are constantly obtaining feedback from their clients (parents).