Customer Discovery and Experience in Education

     If so many of the worlds largest companies, smartest business minds and organizational thought leaders are stressing customer discovery and customer service, why haven’t more educational organizations followed suit? For many educators and administrators the focus over the last 4o years has been on the relationship between teacher and student. Before going any further I want to first acknowledge that relationship, there has been incredible progress in that relationship with lots more work that must be done, but we are getting there. 

     The problem that I see in most education models is that organizations fail to see the importance of creating experiences rather than things. Take a look at Disney. As an organization they strive to deliver an experience in everything that they do. The by-products are the parks, content and merchandise. The question we must ask ourselves is if we are willing to go past just creating “things” for our students and families and start creating an experience. We are tackling that thought here at NEXT School Foundation. Daily we ask ourselves a simple question that drives us to our value proposition. How do we make carline feel like the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A? Corny, maybe, but imagine if when your parents raved about something as mundane as carline the way most folks do about their Chick-Fil-A experience. 

     As we continue to look at ways to enhance the American education system, we can not continue to forget, ignore and dispel the importance of the experience we are delivering to our parents. How? We must put emphasis on the importance of customer discovery as it applies to parents and then create experiences that serve them. It is more than giving them a seat at the table, it is encouraging them to act. It is rewarding them with….you guessed it, an experience. A parent stewards a child through school for roughly 25% of that child’s life. Imagine the impact on your daily life if every family you interacted with during your career was and active supporter. What experience are we giving them? Do we continue to encourage the Us vs. Them narrative or are we looking at ways to build a collective unit to increase access and opportunity for students.

     Customer discovery and service has become the standard in business and I will go ahead and say what should be said, it should become the standard in education. The honesty of what customer discovery truly uncovers can shake even the strongest person. That is why we are encouraging more and more of the organizations we work with to have a plan and to take action. With a goal of understanding and serving parents in a mutually beneficial exchange that is critical if we are ever to see true education reform. Parents can be your biggest supporter or your worse enemy. We are leading that charge at the NEXT School Foundation through public discussions, collaborative workshops between educators and parents and programs that focus on enhancing and creating customer discovery

    I have spent the last few weeks working with interns for the NEXT School Foundation on developing a Customer interaction policy. Think of it as a handbook for interacting with parents, supporters, critics and community members. It all stems from a problem that people fail to talk about. The lack of exceptional “service” educational institutions and systems provide their second most important consumer, parents. 

     This idea of innovating customer discovery and service in education has become a bit of a obsession for me as of late. We do not just want to do education differently, we want to do philanthropy for these education systems differently. Similar to the ways we have broken the mold in and out of the traditional classroom we also strive to do the same with the traditional education foundation system. That starts with customer discovery and customer experiences within the educational ecosystem. 

Interested in addressing Customer Discovery and Customer experience in your organization? 

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