SchoolReach Reviews: Review SchoolReach Capabilities
By: clientadmin | April 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
By Greg Howard – April 15, 2013
In a recent post, we looked at how to conduct your own school notification system reviews. We wrote that post to show school leaders like you that it’s not difficult to review the capabilities of various school notification systems. The key is knowing what to look for. That’s why we outlined five specific criteria by which you should evaluate a provider.
You may be wondering how SchoolReach stacks up against those five criteria. If so, here are some SchoolReach reviews that examine our abilities in the areas that truly matter.
SchoolReach Reviews on Our Features and Functionalities
SchoolReach is a true school notification system – not an “auto-dialer,” not a “robocall” application, but a school notification system. As we noted in our previous post, there’s an important difference. True school notification systems like SchoolReach have the ability to broadcast voice, e-mail, and SMS text messages, in addition to handling other types of common communications that save staff time and energy. Moreover, SchoolReach’s real-time analytics reports show you which messages have been successfully delivered and which have not. And we do all of this while keeping your student data secure.
Furthermore, because we work closely with schools of all kinds, we understand the unique needs of school leaders and have designed SchoolReach accordingly. SchoolReach reviews from our clients give us high marks for the ability of our technology to meet their needs.
SchoolReach Reviews on Our Core Product Abilities
The core of our service is school notification, and our unique technologies help us do that very well. Our patented processes give us the ability to balance broadcast volume with local phone switch capacity and bypass voice mail greetings on mobile phones. In plain English, what this means is that we can deliver your broadcasts quickly and more effectively than any other provider. Unlike other providers, who struggle with the basics of message broadcasting, we excel at these basic functions.
SchoolReach reviews from customers also celebrate our ability to go beyond voice, text, or e-mail broadcasting. Need a system to send school closing notices and emergency alerts? SchoolReach can help. Do you want to automate your attendance calls? SchoolReach does that. Want to decrease the number of negative lunch balances you’re carrying? Send lunch balance reminders to parents automatically with SchoolReach. Need a simpler way to notify your parents about bus routes at the beginning of the year? Use our bus route alert service and stop wasting time and money on expensive mailings. Need a better way to collect parent, staff, or community feedback? Use our parent polls and surveys application to solicit feedback.
The number of things you can do with SchoolReach is limited only by your imagination. And if you want to integrate SchoolReach with your school information system – whether your SIS is a robust software program on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet – our data integration team can help.
SchoolReach Reviews on Our Experience with School Notification
SchoolReach has been a school notification system provider for more than 10 years. We work with virtually every kind of school, school district, and educational institution that exists – public, private, parochial, charter, religious, non-religious, small, large, urban, suburban, rural, and more! Just ask us for a reference from other schools in your state or region. As a national provider that serves schools in all 50 states, we have many customers who have conducted SchoolReach reviews and chosen us as their school notification provider. We can connect you with school leaders across the country who are satisfied SchoolReach customers.
SchoolReach Reviews on Our Customer Service Capabilities
We make a commitment to customer service unlike any other provider in our industry. You can call SchoolReach customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year, and hear the pleasant voice of one of our highly trained, St. Louis based client service representatives. We never outsource our customer service function to foreign companies or external call centers. Our reps have seen it all, and they can help you with any problem or concern.
Satisfied customers have provided glowing SchoolReach reviews on our customer service team, and we are happy to share these stories with you.
SchoolReach Reviews on Our Ability to Protect Student Data
Thoughtful SchoolReach reviews closely examine our ability to protect student data. If you take a look at our system, you will find that we use 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit root SSL protection from GeoTrust. We also use Cisco firewall security and a dual login process to block unauthorized users from gaining access to our system.
We’ve also designed our customer service processes to prevent the accidental transmission of student data to unauthorized users. In particular, we have chosen to avoid using live chat support. We feel that having our reps juggle several chat-based inquiries at once increases the risk that the wrong information could be disclosed to the wrong party. Therefore, unlike other providers who see no problem with this risk, we’ve decided to do the right thing and handle one customer service inquiry at a time.
Your Turn: Conduct Your Own SchoolReach Reviews!
SchoolReach reviews can be completed in a short amount of time. We invite you to set up an online demonstration with us and review our capabilities in more detail. Click here to contact us for more information.
School Notification System Reviews: How to Conduct Your Own
By: clientadmin | March 20th, 2013 | No Comments »
By Greg Howard – March 20, 2013
The number of companies offering school notification systems has increased dramatically over the past 10 years. With so many providers in the market, it can be difficult to review and compare all the various systems. That’s why we’d like to suggest some criteria for you to consider.
Here are five things to consider when conducting a school notification system review:
Review the overall product: is it a true school notification system?
Many companies are in the business of providing voice, e-mail or SMS text notification services, and many companies are quick to brand their technology as a “school notification system” to curry favor with school leaders. However, there is a big difference between providers of “auto-dialers,” “robocalls,” or SMS broadcasting, and providers of full-featured notification systems that meet the unique needs of schools.
A true school notification system possesses the technology to:
- broadcast notifications to parents and community members,
- offer programs and services specific to school environments,
- share best practices based on school usage and needs,
- accurately track the delivery of messages in real time, and
- keep student data secure.
Review the product’s stated notification capabilities.
In addition, a robust school notification platform is flexible enough to perform a myriad of tasks. Sophisticated systems are simple enough to handle the periodic school closing notice and robust enough to automate daily communications such as attendee calls and lunch account balance reminders. True school notification systems can also integrate with their other information systems (i.e. student information systems and food service information systems) to bring automation to as many school communications as possible.
When completing school notification system reviews, be sure to carefully evaluate each provider’s stated capabilities.
Review the provider’s experience with school notification.
Only providers who have deep experience working with schools can understand the unique notification needs of educational leaders. The number of years of experience matters. You may also want to consider a provider’s experience with your specific type of school (i.e. public, private, or parochial) or educational institution (BOCES, ESC, etc.). Ask for references and testimonials when reviewing a school notification system provider’s experience.
Review the provider’s customer service capabilities.
Many providers talk a good game about customer service, but deliver less-than-ideal assistance when customers run into problems. There are big differences between the types of customer service that different providers offer, and those differences can have a major impact on your experience:
For example, you can expect fundamental differences in quality depending on whether a provider:
- Offers live, phone-based support or pushes people to suffer through online tutorials
- Offers 24/7/365 support versus 9-to-5 support (remember this when you need help broadcasting a school closing message at 3:00 AM on Sunday night!)
- Offers highly-trained internal reps versus external call center reps who have no product knowledge beyond the script in front of them
- Offer U.S-based support versus offshore support
Review the provider’s ability to protect student data.
Any review of a school notification provider must include inquiries into the provider’s ability to keep data secure. You need to understand how a provider’s system protects student data from a technological standpoint and the way that internal employees can access data.
For example, if a provider’s platform is web-based, what kind of encryption do they offer?
Another example: What protocols do customer service reps use when handling inquires that might involve student or parent data? Are representatives on a live chat application, juggling several inquiries at one time – a situation that could lead to giving the wrong person the wrong information? Or are representatives handling one customer at a time to ensure that no mistakes are made?
Question every provider on their ability to protect student data.
Need help conducting school notification system reviews?
Contact us today and let us help you understand the choices available in the school notification market. Click here to e-mail us, or call 1-800-420-1479, ext. 1.
Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Thinking About How Severe Weather Affects Schools
By: clientadmin | March 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
By Paul Langhorst – March 7, 2013
To say that the relationship between schools and the weather is “love-hate” would be a pure understatement. When the weather is good, school is in session, things run smoothly, and there is no need to communicate late-breaking decisions with parents, faculty and students. When the weather is severe, things are not so good. Buses can run late, staff and faculty can be late, student absences increase, expenses go up, classes can get cancelled or shortened, and events and activities can be affected. In short, when severe weather hits, lots of alerts need to be quickly shared with parents, faculty and staff.
With snow pounding the Upper Midwest and Northeast yet again, it’s fitting that this week is being recognized as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Promoted and sponsored by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (more commonly called the National Weather Service), the goal of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to bring increased attention to severe weather and its impact on life.
Here at SchoolReach, we believe that this week should also be called School Notification Awareness Week. Severe weather has a significant impact on school life, and a school notification system can play a helpful role in response to severe weather.
Severe weather requires a watchful eye and rapid response plan. Schools leaders must be aware of all that is occurring at their facilities, know where their students might be, and be able to make decisions regarding the continuation of normal schedules and activities. Most importantly, they need to be able to communicate their decisions to their school population.
When severe weather strikes, the majority of school administrators now reach for their school notification system to broadcast school closings, late starts, schedule changes, and bus delay alerts to parents and staff. The ease with which an entire school population can be notified is truly amazing, and with the same ease, individual classes, grades, groups or bus routes can be reached.
Thanks to NOAA and National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, many schools leaders are now focusing on their severe weather response capabilities. We’d like to suggest that they also focus on their school notification systems, making sure that appropriate personnel are trained, parent contact information is up to date, and that parents are aware of the programs and their use. If your school does not have a parent notification system, get one! Considering the dramatically low cost and ease of operation, a school notification system such as SchoolReach should be a staple of school administration.
Free K-12 Professional Development Resources
By: clientadmin | February 14th, 2013 | No Comments »
By Greg Howard – February 14, 2013
Professional development resources are always being sought out by K-12 school administrators – especially ones that are content-rich, timely, and best of all, FREE. SchoolReach is happy to provide professional development courses that leaders in K-12 education crave.
If you haven’t been attending our free monthly webinars or downloading our free reports, we encourage you to take a look at everything we have to offer. You don’t have to be a SchoolReach customer to access these resources – we provide them free of charge to school leaders everywhere.
Here are the topics we regularly cover in our free webinars and white papers:
- School Safety – Lockdowns, active shooters, and emergency response capabilities are top-of-mind concerns for every school leader today. We’ve worked with top safety experts to produce a number of presentations on school lockdowns and emergency response scenarios.
- School Communications – To help schools better communicate with parents and community members, we’ve produced content on school press relations, using social media, and parent communication.
- Bullying and Anonymous Reporting – To help administrators address bullying and other tough issues in their schools, we provide a host of PDF guides, videos, and white papers on our CyberBully Hotline website. In particular, we focus on how anonymous reporting can be either the foundation or a valuable component of an overall violence prevention program.
Administrators and school resource officers regularly write in to thank us for these resources. For instance, Missouri-based school principal Renee M. recently said the following about one of our school emergency response webinars: “Our school will be safer because of this presentation.” More than 2,000 education professionals downloaded our PDF guides on school lockdowns, and just as many have viewed one of our school safety webinars. Thousands more have downloaded or accessed our other case studies and videos. Have you?
Visit our Professional Development page to see all of our upcoming webinars, recent webinar recordings, and white papers. Also, be sure to sign up for our e-mail newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you can keep up with the latest resources we have to offer.
School Media Communications Tips
By: clientadmin | February 10th, 2013 | No Comments »
By Greg Howard – February 11, 2013
When it comes to managing school PR, principals and superintendents must often wear that hat without having formal training. Larger schools and school districts will have a full-time communications director on staff, but administrators at smaller schools and districts may be responsible for handling public communications themselves. Being ready to talk to reporters during difficult times, as well as being proactive and seeking positive press to earn goodwill in the community, should be on the mind of school leaders regardless of school size.
The archive of our recent webinar on school press relations is now available on the SchoolReach Professional Development page to help school administrators who may not have easy access to an experienced communications professional. This free, one-hour presentation will teach you the basics of communications planning and instruct you on how to interact effectively with members of the media. You’ll find out what to do, what not to do, and learn some practical, tested tactics that you can use right away.
Learn how to:
- Build relationships between your school and the media
- How to talk to reporters and what you should say
- How to keep parents informed
- How to communicate in a crisis situation
Some of the facts and strategies discussed in this webinar may surprise you if you don’t have a background in public relations. That’s why we recommend that school administrators at schools large and small attend our school media communications webinar. Think about it: you never know when an unexpected event, such as a lockdown or a sudden crisis, will occur. Speaking the wrong words to a reporter can make a bad situation worse. In addition, you also want to get good news on your school or district out to the community to enhance your public image. You need to know how interact effectively with the media, whenever they call or visit your campus.
In our webinar on public relations for school leaders, you’ll get to hear from the communications director of a large public school district in Ohio. Sandy Nekoloff (pictured above) of South-Western City School District has 15 years of experience in communications, and her district serves 20,000 students scattered across an area that is part urban, part suburban, and part rural. Considering the wide area that the district covers, Ms. Nekoloff interacts with every imaginable type of media outlet, from reporters at well-known media outlets to local publications and community bloggers. In just one hour, she’ll give you the scoop (pardon the pun) on how to get your message out to the media in your area.
Click here to view a recording of this free, informative webinar.