Renewing America's Progress: A Positive Solution to School Reform

By Fredric H. Genck | Go to book overview

15
Parent Surver: How to Improve Parent Satisfaction and Public Confidence

Responsiveness to the customer is one of the most important and valuable innovations of management in business. It is equally applicable, and perhaps even more important, in public services. The simple, straightforward questionnaire for parents at the end of this chapter is one of the most effective steps any school district can take to improve performance. It reassures board, staff, and community where performance is good. It identifies realistic improvement opportunities. An upward spiral of improvement is initiated that will continue until a high plateau is reached and permanently sustained.

Parent survey results provide the same kind of valuable information that a business receives from analyzing sales, profits, and market research. Sales indicate that customers are buying the product. Profitability indicates that the company is able to produce it at a cost less than what customers are willing to pay. Market research shows where customers are satisfied, and where improvement opportunities exist. It reveals what may be a different meaning for the customer in the product than what is assumed by those who produce it. Crisco, for example, means one thing to the factory that produces it and quite another to the person using it to bake a cake.

This kind of information is just as important in public services as it is in a business. To understand what the customers want, where they are satisfied, and where they perceive opportunities for improvement is essential to board and staff accountability and good performance. This is perhaps the single most important concept that could be taken from business management and applied to public services. A wonderful contribution could be made to the purposefulness and effectiveness

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