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The Childcare Management Blog

Improving Customer Satisfaction in Childcare: Keeping Parents Happy

Posted by Jeffrey Thomas on May 2, 2017 10:00:00 AM
Jeffrey Thomas is the President of ThomasKelly Software Associates - specializing in cloud-based products ​for education and social services domains.
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improving customer satisfaction in child care - keeping parents happy

Customer satisfaction is a powerful driver of customer retention and customer loyalty. For childcare businesses, measuring and improving customer satisfaction is a two-pronged activity – the children are the receivers of the service, but the parents have the determination of facility.

The reasons that customer satisfaction is so important to your childcare business include:

Customer satisfaction is also the least expensive and most efficient source of market communication. Satisfied customers (parents) are more likely to recommend your business to others.

You need to measure current satisfaction, determine where and how to make improvements, and measure your progress and success at increasing satisfaction levels.

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Measuring Customer Satisfaction

While some parents will be very direct about their concerns with your staff or facility, most people tend to keep quiet and simply go somewhere else. You never know why they left.

It is up to you to reach out to your clients and ask pertinent questions, gather feedback, and dig into the data. Determine if there are areas that are rated highly satisfactory as well as those where problems are highlighted.

The customer survey is the most obvious choice of tool to measure satisfaction, but it can take a variety of forms and be provided through different communication methods to encourage full participation. Customer surveys provide valuable feedback for you, and the parents appreciate being asked for input.

An annual survey can show you how things have changed in the course of a year. You will receive input from new clients who may have different expectations than your current ones.  

Common survey questions are:

  • “How long has your child attended our childcare center?”
  • “How old is your child/are your children?”
  • “How satisfied are you with our payment policies?”
  • “Do you believe our facility offers age-appropriate activities for your child?"

Notice how specific each question is and, when appropriate, asks parents to provide more than a yes or no answer. You need specific questions to give you guidance in improving your business.

Areas to survey:

  • Communication methods
  • Payment processes
  • Curriculum
  • Meals

You should ask about any process that touches your customers as well as provide room for them to offer suggestions and feedback on items outside of your questions. Include open-ended questions to learn about areas you had not thought about.

Gather the data and find out what works best. Then see if you can apply lessons learned from the best processes to those areas where problems are noted. If you need to know more, do not hesitate to reach out to parents for more information about an issue.

Another tool to help measure customer satisfaction is still a method of surveying but one you can use throughout the year to ask brief questions and take polls. Social media platforms are a preferred method of communication for some parents.

Use social media to answer customer questions and solve problems. This method of interacting has the advantage of providing the answer to anyone else who needs it. Social media can be used to promote activities, alert customers to problems, and to highlight what you do at your childcare center.

Most social media platforms include ways to take quick polls and monitor for issues a parent may not have mentioned to you directly. Do not use it to sell or pressure prospective customers; be sure all social media interaction and posts are appropriate.

Areas to Improve Satisfaction

If you have not developed one yet, determine what your customer mission is and find ways to reinforce it with the staff. Make the mission simple such as Total Parent Happiness. Design all of your processes and your facility around that mission and constantly reinforce the message.

A customer oriented culture is important to the growth of your business. Both your managers and the employees working directly with the parents and children must understand and promote this culture from within.

Build your culture through:

  • Staff training and hiring
  • Teaming and other work structures
  • Customer satisfaction measurement
  • Accountability feedback loops

Empower employees to be able to fulfill customer wants and needs; stress that customer satisfaction is paramount. Expect and allow your teachers and other staff to do more than basic service.

How to Make Improvements

Once you have crunched the data from your survey, take stock of what needs to improve. Begin with simple steps to fix problems and monitor the situation continually to ensure you are pursuing the right remedy.

Keep parents in the loop when making changes. Try to make contact weekly to hear any concerns, and have frequent meetings to learn about the general progress of each child. Use the communication channel that parents are most comfortable with to maintain contact and continue your improvements.

If you have a large facility or multiple centers, have managers keep track of all processes and training for the staff. Make sure everyone understands that efficient care and quality service is your top goal.

Review staff to ensure they have:

  • The right qualifications
  • Experience working with kids
  • Knowledge of childcare
  • Ability to handle different types of children

Create a quality environment. Hygiene and cleanliness are key concerns. Keep the facility clean and properly maintained. Make it feel welcoming to the children with the right colors and tools. Plan activities to fit the age of the child and make sure your center is safe, secure, healthy, and comfortable.

If the child is happy, the parents will be, too.

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Measuring Success

There are several scales you can use to measure your success, depending on the area you want to monitor.

For child development, you can measure basic learning and social skill development, perform progress assessments, and monitor parent-caregiver communication.

Measure the qualifications, turnover, absenteeism, and attentiveness of caregivers. Try to gauge the professional relationships between parents and caregivers and between staff members.

If you make changes, follow up with a brief survey or poll to determine if the new process is an improvement or not.

Your customers are entrusting you with their children, which makes their relationship to your business highly emotional. An improvement in customer satisfaction will be the quickest way to win new clients and keep the current ones bringing their children to you.

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