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Inside SchoolMint: A Fresh Approach to Customer Success

July 20, 2017 BY Genny Orr

Genny Orr, Product Marketing Manager

Supporting Schools and Parents with SchoolMint’s Student Enrollment Solution

SchoolMint partners with over 5,000 K-12 district and charter schools running the gamut of student demographics, operational processes, and technology systems. With such a diverse set of partners, how does SchoolMint support them all to have a positive experience transforming their enrollment process? An attentive, customized approach to Customer Success is an essential part of the answer. Genny Orr, Product Marketing Manager at SchoolMint, interviewed Katy Burk, Director of Customer Success, to learn more.

Genny Orr (GO): To start, what drew you to work at SchoolMint?

Katy Burk (KB): In my professional experience prior to SchoolMint, I’d seen some education technology products that came with fancy bells and whistles, but they were often expensive and difficult for customers to use. When I moved to San Francisco, I wanted to work on a product that could offer a smooth user experience, even in the face of the unique challenges that schools face. That’s what first drew me to SchoolMint. I decided to sign on after I met the people and saw how they interacted. These were people I wanted to work with, and as a bonus, it was exciting to see other women in management positions within the company.

GO: What is the role of the Customer Success team here at SchoolMint?

KB: Some companies talk about Customer Success as “customer happiness.” To me, that doesn’t capture the complexity of what we do. We’re partnering with district and school administrators to completely transform the way they do their jobs. We work together to get them up and running with an enrollment solution customized to their needs. Then we support them throughout their time with us to ensure that they’re engaged and able to make the most of SchoolMint to support their families.

Also, Customer Success sits at the intersection of our customers and our internal Product Development team. We work internally with our Product team to make sure that what we hear from customers gets translated into continuous product improvements. At least monthly, we nominate new features for development based on what we’ve heard from administrators and parents; several of our latest reports and communications tools came directly from that input.

GO: How do you measure the impact your team is having?

KB: We look very closely at customer retention as a measure of whether we’re meeting the needs of districts and schools and their parents. We’re honored that a very high percentage of our partners renew with us each year. Beyond retention, we think a lot about user engagement and usage. Our customer success software, Totango, helps us track a lot of that.

We’re always looking for ways to make sure admins and parents are getting the most out of our product. We have a lot of resources and videos for both schools and parents on our Zendesk support page, and we’re always building out new supports for customers. For example, this year we introduced a best practice webinar series that introduces admins to different tools within SchoolMint that can help them at each stage of the enrollment process.

GO: What do you think differentiates SchoolMint’s approach to Customer Success?

KB: One of the things I’m most proud of is how responsive our product is to our customers. Many of the features that are in our product today originated with customer suggestions, and we move quickly to release new features every month or even bi-weekly. For our customers, that means that they know their feedback is being heard and the SchoolMint system is even more relevant.

Related to that, we work very hard on both the SchoolMint platform and support side to customize everything to what each customer needs. On the platform side, there are so many ways to customize the design, the types of dashboards and reports, how lotteries are set up across different schools and grade levels… and quite a few other things. We’re also accommodating with customers on the types of training and support that work best for them to meet them where they are.

Finally, I’m extremely proud of the people on my team. Since we serve a variety of K-12 organizations, our Customer Success Specialists work with so many different people, with different personalities and attitudes towards technology, and operating in very different organizational cultures. Their job is to understand both the technology side and the human side, and to really build strong relationships as partners. I love hearing stories about the powerful, very personal relationships that my team members have formed with schools. Sometimes customers tell our reps that “they can never leave.” That personal connection is really important to us.

“We don’t want a vendor; we want a partner – a family member; [our SchoolMint reps] Jeremy and Sean are part of the family.” — Daniel Amador, Superintendent, Jubilee Academic Center

GO: On that note, what do you look for when you hire on your team?

KB: It’s a complicated role to hire for. We need people who can understand the technology and translate customer feedback back to our engineers; on the other hand, they also need really strong emotional intelligence to be on the front lines supporting customers through big changes.

I think about the entire team when I think about each hiring decision. I can’t have everybody be exactly the same; we need people with different backgrounds and strengths and motivations. This is very collaborative work, so I need people looking at things from different angles to make progress. One person might be really strong on the technology side, and another might have more leadership coaching experience, and that all contributes to how we function as a unit.

GO: What are some of the highlights of working with school admins and parents?

KB: I love to show SchoolMint to admins and parents who are new to our platform. When we show all of the different things that districts and schools can do with our lottery, we often gets “oohs” and “ahhs” because this process is so much easier than what they had to do in the past. Another big thing is the automated application process. Many of the admins who handle enrollment have very stressful jobs – they often get hundreds of inquiries per day! I love watching their reactions when they see how SchoolMint can automate the whole process to help them get better results and provide better service to parents while taking a lot of busy work off their plates. On the parent side, it’s very rewarding to meet SchoolMint parents in the real world and hear that they really love SchoolMint. They especially love getting immediate status updates about their child and getting communications and offers right on their phones.

GO: What’s next?

KB: SchoolMint is growing quickly, which means we’re always adding new people to our team. We’ll also continue to build out our systems so that there are even more resources available 24/7 online for customers, in addition to our live support.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT SCHOOLMINT? Learn more about our end-to-end student enrollment and school choice solution and view our recorded webinars here.