Starting back in 2010, before I had even heard of design thinking or service design, I was wracking my brain trying to visualise something I called the Student Journey. I co-opted my young daughter’s Ikea Måla drawing paper roll because I wasn’t sure just how much paper I would need to create what I wanted to visualise- I just didn’t have the vocabulary, the tools or the methods. I see now that I was on a fool’s mission trying to do too much all at once. I literally would have needed some 3D modelling software (and the ability to use it) to do what I wanted to.
"This leads to a disconnect between the perceived student experience and the actual student experience."
Experience has proven to be the currency of the 21st century. Working as a recruiter and a marketer for many years at higher education institutions (HEIs), I noticed that there were always inconsistencies between what the marketing materials promoted (as well as what the administrators/academic staff thought the experience was) and what I was hearing when I talked to the students themselves about their experiences. This leads to a disconnect between the perceived student experience and the actual student experience. This can be a reputation killer.
Reputation for any organisation greatly depends on the experience customers/users have. And the reputation for HEIs is no different. It is vital for their academic staff regarding their research and influence (and therefore also funding), significant for their current students and alumni, and critical for their recruitment and admissions staff. Therefore, this means that the experience of the staff and students is incredibly important for their future ability to recruit top academic staff and students. It makes no difference whether we look at experience in teaching methods, interactions with staff (academic or service), support services/systems, or the surrounding society.
"A great experience will always improve reputation and increase interest."
What I knew while working on my Student Journey was that by first mapping these services and systems, the university would be able to more readily identify gaps and, in turn, be able to identify specific changes that would improve their students' experience (there will always be gaps when services are created in silos). A great experience will always improve reputation and increase interest.
Reputation starts and ends with the experience- get that right, and you are well on your way. What potential students hear from current and former students (and staff) matters, I know you know that. Getting the experience right is where service design shines. Using empathy to gather data by exploring the needs of your target groups and then further employing the tools and methods of service design to use those insights can help institutions cut down on waste, focus better, enhance the experience of their current staff and students, and ultimately, build their reputation to assist in recruitment and marketing.
"Services created in silos...undermine the student experience."
Data itself, without empathy and context, is not as useful as some would like us to think. Data without tools and methods to utilise it is fairly useless. Services created in silos without knowledge of how they fit into the overall picture undermines the student experience (and staff experience) of HEIs. This, in turn, negatively affects the HEIs' reputation. Service design, most importantly, is aimed at helping organisations understand and improve the entire end-to-end customer/user experience. In the end you will have a more appealing experience to market to potential students.
How does your institution use data to connect the students with their experience? And the student experience to recruitment and marketing?
All Co Creation Co-creation Design Thinking Emotion Employee Experience Experience Design Higher Education Journey Mapping Marketing Mistakes Organisational Change Service Design Service Design Process Social Media Stakeholder Mapping Student Experience Student Recuitment Wide Teams