Navigating customer service in the age of the pandemic

When the pandemic hit, ParentSquare’s capacity and infrastructure ensured zero service interruptions for customers, despite a massive increase in school-to-home communications, which remained at record levels well after schools closed.

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, and schools looked likely to close, we knew the need for safe, secure school-to-home communication was going to skyrocket. Our first step was to ramp up our organizational capabilities behind-the-scenes. Every team from across the organization joined forces to make the transition to remote learning as smooth as possible for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

With this in mind, we quickly scaled our capacity and infrastructure to ensure zero service interruptions for customers.

A Six-Pronged Pandemic Response
Here’s how each area contributed to our overall success during this difficult period:

  • Tech team came to the rescue. Our tech team made sure our infrastructure worked reliably as we more than doubled our capacity to handle the increased web traffic and database load. In March 2020, we saw a huge spike in calls when districts sent mass smart alerts home, notifying families about school closures. Despite a jump from 80,000 calls to 620,000 calls per day, all of our preparation paid off, and we experienced zero service interruptions as our schools transitioned to the new world of remote learning and leaned heavily on our platform for communication.

  • Product team re-prioritized. We shifted our focus and fast-tracked what customers needed the most. That included a Health Screening Form tool to help screen staff and students for symptoms of COVID-19 in time for the start of the new school year in August 2020. Since the Health Screening Form release, upwards of 20 million health screenings have been completed. Along with health screening, we also introduced enhancements to video playback, improved video capacity and handling, and personalized parent notifications.

  • Marketing team engaged and educated customers. Our marketing team stopped lead generation outreach. Instead, they focused on producing resources for customers and sharing emerging best practices and real examples of how schools were engaging students and families to support remote learning during the pandemic. That included 36 consecutive days of remote K-12 communications tips featured on our company blog and in email.

  • Sales team shifted to customer service. We stopped outreach to anyone not already in contact with us and moved several staff members from our sales team to our customer success team. Members of our sales team channeled their presentation skills into training sessions for new and existing customers, giving districts access to on-demand, daily sessions at any hour in the morning, afternoon, or evening. “It was refreshing to see that the focus went from expanding our business to supporting our customers,” said Nathan Ericson, a regional sales manager-turned-customer trainer. “A lot of companies say they are customer-focused, but our actions proved it. Plus, it helped us better understand customer problems post-sales.”
  • Customer success team onboarded hundreds of new districts. Our customer success (CS) team worked around-the-clock to assist our customers and implement ParentSquare rapidly, or, in some cases, overnight for those that may not have had an effective communication method in place. From March to July, our CS team onboarded 450 districts and resolved over 48,000 customer questions with an average response of 83 minutes.
  • Executive team rolled up its sleeves. Our CS team worked nights and weekends to complete a backlog of support tickets, and the company’s founders (both of whom are engineers who helped develop the platform), joined in to help by answering support tickets along with the CS team.

From the executive level of our organization to everyday operations, we love to pull together as a team to help districts and schools. Our pandemic response is just one example of the staff caring about the company like it’s their own. As the educational landscape begins to normalize this year, we’ll be keeping our eye out for the next potential disruption, and we’ll be ready to mobilize and tackle it when it surfaces.

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