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Handling Parents’ Complaints Need-to-Know

Let’s imagine this scenario:

You are recently appointed as a school leader, who is in charge of 1000 students from grade 6-12. You are familiarizing yourself with all these managerial tasks as you set up meetings with employees and teachers. Yet, parents’ complaints are swooning in, and there was no system in place to help teachers handle these complaints. This causes each teacher to react differently, which made some complaints drag on longer since both parties could not reach a consensus.

As a school leader, you started to feel overwhelmed and utterly confused as this crisis strikes. So how can you prevent this mess from happening in the first place?

Like every business, schools also thrive on the satisfaction of their customers. In essence, we don’t have *customers*, but we still have school stakeholders such as students and parents. Based on the Customer Support KPI by Gecko Board, we have tweaked some of the terms to make them more appropriate to an educational setting. The purposes of knowing these terms are to help your support team measure and improve parents and student satisfaction by tracking customer satisfaction, ongoing conversations, and more.

Some key criteria to consider: Time to first response (TTF), Time to resolution (TTR), Mean time to resolution (MTTR).

Definitions of these terms

  1. Time to First Response (TTF) refers to the amount of time your customer service department took to reply to a complaint. Well, parents don’t like to wait in queues to get their issues resolved, especially concerning their children’s wellbeing. Therefore, TTF is an important KPI feature, as it gauges your team’s efficiency and can significantly improve customer satisfaction rate.

  2. Time to First Resolution (TTFR) refers to the first time a complaint ticket is closed. If it gets reopened in the future, the full resolution time will extend. First Resolution Time can be preferable when customers are offered a long duration, say 14 days, to reopen a ticket after being marked as solved. Time to Full Resolution (TTFR) refers to the complete amount of time your support staff takes to close one complaint ticket, including the lag time between reopening the same ticket.

  3. Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) is the average time taken by your support agents to solve all opened tickets in a given time frame. Measuring on a per-agent basis allows you to see who is taking longer to solve tickets. Your MTTR will vary depending on the complexity of the issue and the available support staff ratio to queued tickets in the measured time frame.

How to use these terms?

1. Time to First Response (TTF)

Faster response times demonstrate to parents that you’re here and ready to help them going through their issues.

Even if that first response is just a brief reply to reassure them that you’re looking into their issue, it would still be better than no communication.

These quick responses help avoid situations where parents are upset because of the long wait times, resulting in them pulling their kids out of the school, causing a publicity crisis, or worse, suing you for negligence. Just with a simple process of recording the complaint in a well-organized manner, replying to their inquiry, and assigning staff to follow-up, you’ve now got an opportunity to make the whole complaint resolution process go smoothly.

2. Time to First Resolution, Time to Full Resolution (TTR)

These two terms are quite similar in strict definitions yet can be interpreted in different ways. You’ll want to see these two resolution times as close together as possible. Maintaining a low Full Resolution Time close to First Resolution Time means that your team is solving issues the first time without reopening tickets.

If, however, your resolution times are too far apart then you might need to improve your Next Issue Avoidance. This metric looks at how many parents have more than one issue in a given time frame (often looked at over a week or a month). If the Next Issue Avoidance rate is low, it means your support staff can think proactively and anticipate future issues the parent is likely to have. If they are, fewer parents will come back and file a new complaint shortly after their first.

3. Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR)

Why should we calculate this metric? You’ll see that there are a lot of things you can do with MTTR.

For example, if your MTTR begins to increase, you’ll need to investigate the underlying problem. It could indicate either that your support team needs additional help and training due to the massive number of queries (which in itself is alarming). Or it could be a lack of coordination between the support team and those brought in to assist with related matters queries, e.g., Academic Team, IT Team, Product Team, etc.

When used in combination with effective tagging and categorization of tickets, you can see systematic flaws when investigating the tickets that are taking the longest to be solved. Is there a bottleneck, where one individual’s knowledge and skills are key to the resolution of these types of tickets? (e.g. a certain coding bug that only one IT staff of the school can fix) If so, then there may be ways to reduce the number of times you need to call upon them by ensuring the systematic flaws are fixed or training more staff to learn how to fix that bug so less time is wasted solving that issue.


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