Customer Service - A Partnership With Parents

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by Cathy Abraham

"Customer Service is listening...and hearing...what parents say and don't say."

General Facts about Customer Service

  • It costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep one.
  • 7 of 10 customers who complain will do business with you again if you resolve their complaint in a timely, reasonable manner.
  • If you can resolve a complaint on the spot, this will eliminate 95% of potential lost business.
  • Of customers who leave, 68% do so because of a perceived attitude of indifference by the company or an individual.
  • A typical dissatisfied customer will tell 8 to 10 people of their negative experience.
  • One child who disenrolls equals approximately $6,000 a year. A family with two children spends over $10,000 a year.

Parents Evaluate Quality of Service on Several Factors:

  • Credibility - Our ability to consistently provide what was promised, as promised. Do we do what we say we're going to do?
  • Responsiveness - Our ability to address the needs of parents promptly and sincerely. Are we listening to the needs parents convey?
  • Empathy - The degree to which we display that we care about children and families. Do I give children and parents my individual and undivided attention?
  • Competency - Our ability to do our jobs effectively and handle any types of problem situations that arise. Do I convey a calm and knowledgeable professional demeanor?
  • Tangibles - The concrete things that parents can see, hear, smell, and touch. Am I providing the best possible environment for young children? Do parents receive daily confirmation that this is a good place for their child(ren)?

Necessities in Customer Service - And to Have a Great Center

  • You - Your attitude...
    • Are you happy? Friendly?
    • Do you smile often?
    • Do you 'go the extra mile' without being asked?
    • Do you warmly greet anyone you come into contact with?
    • Do you care about what you're doing?
    • Do you leave your personal problems at the door?
    • Do you share your enthusiasm?
    • Do you have a positive attitude?
    • Are you somebody who is an asset to the center?
    • Are you somebody you would like to work with?
  • The Parents - They pay our salaries...
    • Do you greet them warmly every time you see them no matter how busy you are?
    • Do you share at least one positive experience about their child with them each day?
    • Do you listen to their concerns and feelings?
    • Do they get pertinent information from you about their child's day and upcoming activities?
    • Do you respect their role, and the parenting choices they make for their child?
    • Can they look at you and regard you as a professional - based on how you present and conduct yourself.
    • Do they see their children happily engaged in fun, stimulating activities?
    • Do their children look well-cared for when they are picked up?
    • Would you put your child in this center for 10 hours a day?
    • Would you be happy with the quality of care at this center?
  • The children - They are why we're here...
    • Are the children loved and well-cared for?
    • Are the children talked to and treated with respect?
    • Are they adequately supervised and kept safe?
    • Do they have many interesting choices of things to do?
    • Is your classroom organized, modeling and teaching them this skill?
    • Is the building relatively free of crying and screaming, and chaos in general?
    • Are the individual needs of children taken into account?
    • Is developing self-control the goal of classroom discipline?
    • Do you interact with the children and really listen to what they feel and have to say?
    • Do you take the time to prepare the environment for the children?
    • Are your expectations age appropriate?
    • Is your classroom a safe and clean environment?
    • Do children have many opportunities to explore and try new things?
    • Is your primary focus the children?
    • Do you share appropriate affection with each child?
    • Do all children receive attention and have positive interactions with you on a daily basis?
    • Are all children acknowledged as being special and sacred?
    • Are you constantly aware of the child's self-esteem?
    • Are opportunities provided for children to develop self-help skills?
    • Would I want to be a child here at this center?
    • Would I feel loved and safe if I were a child here?

Customer Service Golden Rules

  1. Smile! A genuine, sincere smile goes a long way!
  2. Call people by name. This conveys a sincere interest in a person.
  3. Take an interest. Give parents and children individual and undivided attention. Follow up on things they tell or ask you.
  4. Be a good listener. If you listen you can learn a great deal about people. Listen to parents.
  5. Be Polite. "Please" and "Thank you" really convey a message of respect and set the tone.
  6. Empathize with people. Try to understand what they may be going through.
  7. Show respect. Be careful to not ignore, slight or judge parents.
  8. Recognize the role parents play. Parenting is a difficult job, a fact that often does not get acknowledged.
  9. Have a positive outlook. No one wants to be around someone who has a negative attitude.
  10. Treat people the way you would like to be treated.

Remember: Always greet and speak to parents every time you see them!!

Tell parents at least one positive thing per day about their child, or about something he/she enjoyed that day!

You can utilize the Customer Service Quiz for training purposes with your staff.