HISD Customer Care team meets the demand as calls increase

Anticipating a surge of calls as students began returning to classrooms in September, Customer Care and Operations Senior Manager Delorian Moore began preparing her team of customer service representatives over the summer.

To prepare for the potential increase, she first guided the team through COVID-19 online safety trainings. Next, she advocated for a department goal of accountability and growth.

As students returned for in-person instruction in September, campus maintenance and custodial calls increased, putting the Business Operations Customer Care team at the center of the effort to keep students and staff safe.

“We consistently focus on our students and staff, including clean classrooms, payroll concerns, and even parent questions,” Moore said. “But with the pandemic changing the way we communicate, we decided to check up on our practices and each other to make sure we are performing at our very best with the fewest errors possible as calls increase.”

Moore leads the Business Operations Customer Care Call Center, which is tasked with answering parents’ transportation-related questions and processing campus work orders and maintenance requests.

Team members carefully monitored the phone lines, paying attention to misdirected calls and input errors and recording performance data in a spreadsheet to assess issues that slowed their communication process.

They also studied the data, which showed average call times for nutrition-related questions lengthened from two minutes last year to four minutes this year. Calls related to facilities increased from three minutes to four minutes over the same time period.

“We can take a lot of calls each day,” Customer Service Representative Siovhan Harrell said. “It’s important to show empathy and be responsive to the caller’s needs.”

Daily call volumes also increased, going from fewer than 300 calls per day last year to almost 400 calls per day this year. With the increase in volume, customer service representatives were mindful of the extra work custodial and maintenance workers were having to take on at each campus.

“We receive a wide range of calls from air conditioning and heating to electrical and transportation,” Customer Service Representative Jose Velasquez said. “Every facility has a need that has to be understood and heard correctly so that the right service person can fix the issue.”