Kendra, the Executive Assistant at Wenatchee High School in Wenatchee, Washington had a severe parent communications problem.
She and her fellow administrative team (Maggie and Elena) work every day to manage attendance and speak directly with the parents of over 2000 high school students.
The sheer volume of inbound parent phone calls created chaos in their attendance office.
Before they could text, Maggie and Elena were constantly answering the phone. As parents called in with urgent needs, they’d often not be able to reach the attendance team.
“When we were just receiving phone calls it was overwhelming - we had really angry parents because we couldn’t get back to them fast enough with a phone call.” - Elena
Parents would get stuck in an endless loop that Kendra described as, “voicemail land”. Excessive attendance call volume meant Elena and Maggie couldn’t reach everyone effectively.
Things were especially challenging if either Maggie or Elena were out-of-office or busy.
“When we were left alone and didn’t have our partner - that was a scary moment” - Maggie
All of this got to be too overwhelming. Maggie and Elaine felt helplessly caught in a stream of angry parents. They were trying their best to control the damage.
The breaking point for the Wenatchee admin team was receiving up to seventeen or more phone calls a day just from angry parents who couldn’t reach the attendance team.
“Our job is to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the students, teachers, and parents. We need to make sure that our parents have a strong peace of mind that their students have everything they need. When there’s a breakdown in that process or the process feels heavy and cumbersome, it makes parents feel insecure and not confident that their student’s needs are being met.” - Kendra
So Kendra and her team started searching for solutions, specifically, text messaging solutions.
“I asked our tech guy, Jake, to help us look for solutions. I asked him if text messaging was something we could get set up specifically for our whole admin team.” - Kendra
What Kendra and her team needed was a way to text-enable their existing business landline and connect everyone with a shared team inbox for texting.
After some searching in Google, Jake found MessageDesk and presented it to Kendra and her admin team.
Wenatchee High School was already using Remind to send texts to parents, so they had some familiarity with how school texting worked.
However, they found that parents often unsubscribed from Remind’s messages. This meant they could only receive emergency messages. They didn’t have a way to carry on two-way text conversations.
Kendra and her team had questions about how MessageDesk could solve this problem. So they scheduled a demo through the MessageDesk website and shortly got in touch with Colby, one of MessageDesk’s Solutions Engineers.
Colby met with Kendra and her team 1-on-1 and walked everyone through the product and the process of:
Ben (MessageDesk’s Customer Success Manager) then helped Kendra and her team get everything set up.
“It was a really quick turnaround - less than a week. From an administrator standpoint, it was super easy to get started with MessageDesk. Setting up team members and user permissions for Maggie and Elena’s accounts was super simple.” - Kendra
To let parents know they could start texting, Ben and Colby advised Kendra and her team to promote that Wenatchee High School’s attendance office was now text-enabled.
“We reinforced that parents could text us by promoting texting through our school newsletter. We also changed our voicemail greeting. We now say, ‘Hey, feel free to text us at this number, or if this is an emergency just press 1 and stay on the line.’” - Kendra
Once parents knew they could text the office to excuse their students from class, Kendra and her team started seeing results.
“I had my doubts initially (not gonna lie), but MessageDesk actually worked. We reduced our daily call volume by 60%!” - Maggie
As Maggie and Elena’s daily call volume dropped, parents also started commenting.
“Now, most of the parents who text with us say they prefer it to calling our office - we’ve really had a lot of positive feedback.” - Elena
Call volumes were down and parents were happy, but the real winners were the admin staff.
“First thing in the morning when I get in it’s like bam, there are a bunch of text messages, but it’s super easy to respond and move on to other tasks” - Maggie
“We can respond to texts while also taking a phone call or assisting a student. It makes us so much more efficient multitaskers.” - Elena
And MessageDesk even makes it easy for Wenatchee’s admin staff to work from home. They can take their computers home and still manage inbound and outbound parent conversations as a team using MessageDesk.
“Before MessageDesk, I felt like every day I had to stay late and still leave work behind - not anymore. I have peace of mind that everything on my plate was handled.” - Maggie
“With MessageDesk, I can start my reports earlier and then support Maggie with text conversations - I feel like I can get everything done in the day that needs to get done.” - Elena
As Kendra and her team continue to use MessageDesk to reduce their call volume and support parents, they find it easy to add new teammates.
“We’ve added multiple team members since, like our records secretary, just as back up and it was super easy for her to jump into MessageDesk and just be part of the team.” - Kendra
Like many other schools, Wenatchee uses various SIS and ERP software including Skyward and eventually Qmlativ. They’re interested in integrating these systems more fully with MessageDesk for more unified phone calls, emails, and texting.
“We want to use MessageDesk for things like enabling our special education department to send out reminders to parents for IEPs and meetings. We see text messaging as a great way to reach out to parents.” - Kendra
When asked for her final thoughts on MessageDesk and text messaging, Kendra had this to say:
“If a school district is concerned about the level of service they’re able to provide to their students and families, then MessageDesk takes that to the next level. Using MessageDesk has taken us to a level of customer service that we needed to be at in order to meet the needs of our parents and our students.”