There’s a lot to keep in mind when trying to choose the best solutions for your school. From budget to implementation, it’s important to make sure that any tech platform you invest in is a good fit. One of the most important things to consider (and a factor that’s often overlooked) is the family experience. No matter how much time a product saves your school, if families have a terrible time using it, it’s not a good investment. In fact, forcing families to use frustrating, complicated software could even affect your school’s retention rates.
After decades of working with K-12 schools and families, we’re pretty familiar with common complaints that families have about school technology – and we’re sharing the wealth! Here are some of the top things to keep in mind from a family experience perspective when choosing technology for your school.
Don’t Waste Their Time
One of the fastest ways to get families frustrated is by forcing them to log in or fill out the same information over and over again, whether it’s because they’ve got multiple children enrolled at a school or because different platforms do not work together. It’s similarly frustrating to have tech that does not update with important information automatically, making parents wait for information or call schools directly. Fortunately, the right platform should greatly increase your school’s overall efficiency – both for your staff and your families.
Reach Them Where They Are
Let’s be honest: we’re all on our phones more than we care to admit. Chances are, your families will be engaging with your school directly from their mobile devices, meaning it’s crucial that all your most important platforms be mobile responsive. Many families do all of their most important tasks on their phones, including banking. Your school will greatly benefit from ensuring that parents are ably to easily perform actions and complete tasks through their phones, whether it’s uploading documents or checking their child’s grades. Want to go the extra mile? Consider a custom app for your school.
Keep Them Informed
Anyone that’s ever sent a note home in a student’s bookbag (or discovered it crushed up weeks later) knows that parent communication can sometimes be a challenge. We’re all busy, and communication often seems to be hitting us from every direction. The right school tech will help you cut through the noise, allowing you to easily reach families when you need to. Platforms like FACTS Student Information System offer multichannel communication options, with the ability to reach families via email, text alert, or even push notifications.
Don’t Confuse Them
While sometimes it can be hard to communicate with families at all, the opposite problem can exist too. Families often feel like they’re getting mixed messages from everyone associated with their child’s school, with teachers, students, and administrators all providing slightly different information. Luckily, good school management solutions can make these problems a thing of the past. The right student information system serves as a single source of truth for communications, eliminating mixed messaging and keeping communications uniform. Families will know exactly where to look for the final word on all school matters, and schools can rest assured that all their messaging is on brand.
Don’t Make Them Search for What They Need
As we mentioned earlier, the goal is always to save families time. Even if you’ve digitized every important piece of information for your school, if parents have to hunt it down within multiple different platforms, complaints are bound to start rolling in. Look for solutions that offer easy-to-navigate hubs with common sense design. You’d be amazed how happy parents will be if they’re able to pay their child’s sports fees, check their report cards, and scope out this week’s lunch menu all from the same home page.
Keep Their Important Information Safe
Families trust your school with incredibly sensitive information, like their banking details, contact information, and social security numbers. It’s your responsibility to ensure that this information stays safe. Any good tech solution for your school should prioritize safety and maintain strict data security standards. Make sure to do your homework and really investigate a company’s security standards before making any purchases.
Keep Their Specific Needs in Mind
All schools are different and have different needs. Your tech – and the resulting family experience – should reflect that. Look for software providers that don’t take a “one size fits all” approach to school management and are instead customizable with processes, applications, and features that make sense for your community. For example, FACTS Grant & Aid Assessment allows schools to customize application questions, formulas, and allocations in order to create unbiased, data-driven financial awards decisions based on the families their schools serve. Never settle for cookie cutter tools!
Make Sure They Have Support
Even with the best solutions in place, questions are bound to arise. Make sure families don’t feel like they’re on their own by selecting solutions with dedicated support. Whether it’s live chat with customer service agents or a dedicated phone number parents can call with questions, it’s crucial to let parents know they’ve got help every step of the way. The best case scenario, however, is that great software will play its own role in guiding families through processes, letting them know if they’re missing part of an application, notifying them of award status, and more.
Remember, happy families equal happy schools. While it’s important that your team love the school solutions you select, it’s just as (or even more) important that families like it. The right solution in place will not only keep families happy, but also directly benefit your team – less phone calls, improved retention, less meetings…the list goes on and on. Don’t run the risk of frustrating parents with terrible tech. This is one investment you’ll be glad you made!
With tools like a powerful SIS that brings all your school’s most important information into one convenient portal to an incredibly efficient application and enrollment tool, FACTS offers many solutions that improve the family experience. Learn more here.