Friendly is key for Dallas ISD’s Call Center 

When stakeholders such as parents, students, team members and community members call Dallas ISD in search of vital information or help, they will likely first come in contact with one of the members of the district’s Call Center. 

Lester Singleton, manager for the Call Center, says their primary objective is not to transfer the call but to make sure they are resolving issues on the first call. Their secondary responsibility is to get them to the right person the first time, every time.

According to market analysis research that Singleton has studied, nationally, the average hold time for call centers is three-minutes. For his team, the average hold time is 30-seconds.

“We listen first, then we talk, then we educate, and then we find the solution,” Singleton said. The Call Center has been in existence for 17 years, one of the things Singleton has learned in the years he has managed it is that listening is key, because many of the stakeholders who call want to feel like they’ve been heard. 

The six team members (five full-time and one part-time) manage thousands of calls that come into the district.

During the first week of the school year, the Call Center received almost 6,000 calls, and in the month of August alone, they received over 14,000 calls. 

As the Call Center keeps up with the demand, they put Core 4 at the forefront. Singleton says that his team practices the district’s culture tenets in this order: Friendly, Fast, Flexible, and then Focused.

“The reason why Friendly is the first tenet to us, is because within the first 10 seconds of a customer calling, they can tell if one of the agents is the person they want to speak to,” said Singleton. “If you’re friendly, you set a very positive disposition within the first 10 seconds. And since you are friendly, the customer will be more receptive to what you want to convey to them.”

Since the tone of being friendly is established the moment a Call Center team member answers a call, Singleton says the primary greeting is “Thank you for calling Dallas ISD, with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

Singleton also conveys the message to his team to never treat a stakeholder the way they want to be treated– in fact, they should treat them better. He says that he wants every customer that calls the district to feel like they’re important when they receive the undivided attention of his team.

To anticipate the types of calls the Call Center will receive at different times of the year, Singleton is consistently in contact with departments such as Human Capital Management, Benefits, Payroll, and others. 

For example, Singleton says that in November, December, March and April, they know that they are going to receive inquiries from parents about magnet schools. To prepare, Singleton reaches out to the magnet programs for information his team can share when they answer those calls. 

Not only do the Call Center team members work together to achieve equitable outcomes, Singleton describes his department as a community who supports each other and celebrates each other’s achievements. With a winning team, Singleton says they will continue to work together to bring the best customer service to all stakeholders from the district. 

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