These changes allowed us to strengthen the trust and family connections that we had already developed within our services. As a result of rapid unemployment and working from home arrangements, we as a service had to demonstrate our value to families in the community. As there are vacancies within lots of services and the sector is incredibly competitive, it was important to not only maintain current customers but increase our customer base. Financially, we needed to ensure we were sustainable as a business post-COVID, and it was critical to continue to evolve with the changing landscape.
To enhance community trust in our service, we had to increase our level of communication and ensure that we were clearly articulating all safety measures in place as well as any changes that directly affected families and their experience at the centre. For example, restricting the number of family members allowed on drop off or pick up, the cancellation of all events, the mandatory use of hand sanitiser and physical distancing. Communicating these measures over different platforms, allowed families to digest the change and trust the services.
We offered all families payment plans and information on how to receive government funding. We made information easy for them so that they weren’t having to feel embarrassed or withdraw their children from our services.
Meeting the customer’s needs has always been pivotal to Children’s Services. However, as a result of COVID-19, the customer experience now extends beyond the walls of our early learning centres and change is required at a rapid pace. This is our new normal.
2. Why is it important to continue measuring and improving customer satisfaction during the pandemic?
In such an unpredictable time, it would be unreasonable to think that COVID-19 has not affected us all in various ways, including our staff. Our staff have continued to remain positive, calm and professional for our children and families regardless of what they have been experiencing in their home lives or their own fears. Continuing to measure customer satisfaction allowed us to ensure that our service levels did not drop during this time and in fact, positive feedback even in the face of adversity became even more important to us than previously would have been.
The live feedback allowed us to share positive comments with the team and boost morale, at a time when they needed it most.
In some instances we had a large reduction in children attending our service, which meant that the customer service we delivered was critical as we required families to champion our services within the community and spread the word that we are a safe, professional, engaged learning environment for children. The result would see us able to increase our utilisation and financially recover and sustain our services during these uncertain times.