DRIVING TRANSPORTATION EFFICIENCIES IN HISD
Managing a Bustling Department
Few school district departments ﬁeld more calls than transportation.
This is especially true for Houston Independent School District (HISD) in Texas whose 1,400 transportation officials ensure the safe transport of about 36,000 students daily across 1,000 buses that travel a collective 86,000 miles every day. In the 2018-2019 school year, the Customer Care team fielded an impressive 24,501 transportation-related calls.
As Patrice Humphries, general manager of business operations and support in Houston ISD, describes it, “Faced with a high volume of questions and complaints from parents and other stakeholders coming in by phone, email, and social media, the Transportation Services department needed a uniﬁed way to receive, listen, and respond to community concerns.”
At the Oct. 2019 Council of the Great City Schools conference, the HISD team shared their journey to creating a better customer experience and the results they are seeing so far.
Patrice Humphries, MBA
General Manager, Business Operations Support
Houston ISD (TX)
HISD Transportation’s Let’s Talk! Implementation
The district’s Transportation Department launched Let’s Talk!, a cloud-based community engagement tool, to streamline communication, decrease response times, and provide a better customer experience while empowering the department to track responses and use metrics to measure progress. Since introducing Let’s Talk!, the department receives an average of 714 dialogues daily which the team responds to in an average of 2.8 days.
“K12 Insight’s Let’s Talk! customer care communications solution provides a centralized online platform where the conversation can shift from one-way information sharing to two-way dialogue,” Humphries says. “Through the Let’s Talk! platform, the transportation team can actively solicit and receive stakeholder input on key decisions while also inviting questions, comments, compliments, suggestions, and concerns about any topic accessed easily anytime from any device.”
Check out their Let’s Talk! landing page here.
Let’s Talk! helps the transportation department streamline and consolidate interactions while ensuring a positive customer experience.
Since implementing in Aug. 2019, the department has seen a decrease in incoming inquiries (especially from phone calls and email). During the first three weeks of school, call volume for transportation related inquiries dropped from 24,501 in 2018-2019 to 23,431 this school year. During that same time period, average call length went up by nearly a minute, which Humphries attributes to an increase in quality. Instead of resolving issues as quickly as possible, the team is now focused on ensuring every response is complete and accurate—which Let’s Talk! helps them track. Humphries also estimates that, in general, emails at the chief-level have gone from 20-30 inquiries per day down to 1 or 2.
Another important benefit? Humphries says Let’s Talk! helps them allocate and reallocate resources to drive internal efficiencies and better serve their community.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee:
Effective communication strategies in education
HISD’S PRESENTATION @ CGCS 63rd ANNUAL FALL CONFERENCE
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Some key takeaways:
- Business Operations is the largest division in HISD with more than 6,000 employees and multiple support departments, including transportation services
- Before Let’s Talk!, the transportation department had no system to effectively track concerns, automatically route inquiries to the right person or team, or ensure every concern received a response
- The department introduced Let’s Talk! as the primary communication tool, creating a central location for all questions and concerns
- Now, inquiries are better–and more efficiently–managed and tracked
- Since implementing, call and email volume have gone down
- The average call duration rose by about a minute, but parents are now guaranteed an accurate and complete response to their inquiries
- Let’s Talk! also helps the department surface and highlight positive stories from the community
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