Tag Archives: students

How to Create an Amazing Customer Experience on a Budget

How to Create an Amazing Customer Experience on a Budget

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

With the current recession, employment issues and supply chain problems, companies and brands are struggling to provide the same experience they have in the past. Regardless of the cause, companies don’t have the budgets they once had to devote to CX.

First and foremost, if you have to cut your budget, try to do it in places the customer won’t notice. This may not always be possible, but it’s important to try. The moment you create an inconsistent experience, your customers will lose confidence. Without that confidence, repeat business—and even customer loyalty—is up for grabs.

We had a hotel client who was struggling. One of the places he cut was the housekeeping staff. The staff became overworked and couldn’t keep up with the demand, and the guests noticed. My comment was direct. “No matter how nice your hotel has been in the past, if the guests experience dirty rooms, they may never come back.” It might be smarter to have fewer rooms available than rooms that don’t measure up to their typical standards.

On the flip side, ten years ago, before labor issues were the topic of the times, a healthcare client was struggling to staff one of its hospitals with people who aligned with its vision of creating a stellar experience. They knew that the wrong people on the frontline would erode the brand’s reputation. While they weren’t forced to cut costs, the focus on customer experience meant they would only hire the best. And when the best candidates weren’t available, they chose to shut down part of the hospital until they could adequately staff. They would rather go lean on availability than go lean on the experience.

This brings me to an article by Justin Racine that appeared in CMSWire. The title of the article was intriguing: Cheap Beer and Recessions: How to Survive and Thrive with Exceptional Customer Experience.

Racine had me at “cheap beer,” not because I like cheap beer, but because I don’t equate anything cheap with an exceptional—or amazing—customer experience. He went on to explain that he was strapped for cash in college but still wanted to enjoy the “full college experience.” To do so meant a tighter budget. So, instead of drinking a premium brand like Stella Artois, he drank a lower-priced Keystone Light.

The approach the college students chose was substitution. But this may not always be a viable strategy. For example, a restaurant probably couldn’t substitute lower-priced ingredients and still present its diners with the same quality menu items. The reason the college students may have been happy is that they had a choice. They weren’t forced to experience lower quality, but they chose to do so and were happy about it.

Racine claims disruption breeds customer experience opportunities. Yes! This could be the answer.

Consider that many businesses are being disrupted for all the reasons mentioned. Rather than stare at the problem and hope things will change, you must embrace the disruption and make a move. And to the point of Racine’s article, it may be as simple as a substitution. If you and your organization are facing any of these problems (and others), it’s time to take action. Turning disruption into opportunity starts with a conversation. Here are some ideas to jumpstart the creativity:

1. List and define in detail all the problems causing the disruption.

2. Play round one of “What If?” This is where you put all the current and possible problems (not solutions) on the table for discussion. What if labor shortages (or any other disruptive problem) continue? What if we have to cut more people? What if we lose more people? What if we can’t get the ingredients (or parts, supplies, etc.)? What if we lose a percentage of customers? What if revenue drops by 25%?

3. Play round two of “What if?” This is where you brainstorm solutions. For example, if the costs of goods rise, you might be forced to pass those costs on to the customer. So, what if we had to raise prices? The discussion isn’t a decision to raise prices, but the impact it might have on the customer if you did.

4. Remember to stay customer-focused. This follows up on No. 3. Being customer-focused doesn’t mean always making customers happy with your decisions. It means you consider how the customer will react to your decisions. For example, customers aren’t typically happy when they notice a price increase. Still, if you do so with an explanation, they might not just accept that you had to do so, but also appreciate that you are being transparent in the process.

To emphasize the concept from the beginning of this article, if you have to cut, try to do so in places the customer won’t notice. But if that’s not possible, be transparent. Be prepared to tell your customers why there aren’t as many items on the menu, why there isn’t as much availability, why it’s going to take a little longer than usual, etc. The focus here is on transparency and communication. Sharing information gives your customers a sense of control. They know and understand why there are changes.

For those in the B2B space, that transparency and communication can lead to powerful conversations with customers that can deepen your relationships. Discussing problems, changes and alternatives with your customers can get them to see you as more of a partner rather than just a vendor.

For some companies, making cuts, be it budget, people or anything else, is inevitable. It’s how you approach it that can possibly enhance the customer experience. Talk about it. Brainstorm even the most farfetched ideas. Find the opportunities that are hidden in disruption.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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The 3 Student Entrepreneur Personas

The 3 Student Entrepreneur Personas

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Healthcare professional schools, healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship education, and training programs are growing. However, one question is should they be required or elective?

The medical student persona has changed in the past several years. Seeing around corners is always hard. However, to go to where the puck will be is a useful step when planning strategy and tactics to meet the needs of customers segments. Here are some ways to help build your parabolic mirror view of what’s next.

If you have a product or service and are planning not just for the now, but the next and new, then painting a picture of your customer archetype or persona is a key tool.

Do you know who your dream customer is?

There are three steps for understanding your dream customer:

  1. Consider the big issues they are facing – look wider and investigate global issues, such as hunger, environmental sustainability or education.
  2. Identify the industry trends that are affecting them – technology, big data, cyber security, etc.
  3. Describe your customer avatar/archetype/persona now – make a collage including their goals and values, demographics, their pain points and challenges.

Here are the various sickcare innovation and entrepreneurship student segments.

That said, the argument for mandatory is that all students should be exposed to core concepts, like design thinking, much like rotating through core clinical rotations, if nothing else, to get exposure to potential career choices. It might even make them better doctors and possibly help with burnout.

The argument for elective is that all students won’t have the same interests and it would be a waste of time and resources leading the laggards to water knowing you can’t make them drink.

One way to sort potential students is to understand the entrepreneurship education customer segments and their 3 core personas.

The Convinced and Confident know entrepreneurship should be part of their career pathway. In fact, many of them have had entrepreneurial life experiences prior to medical school.

The Curious but Clueless don’t know what they don’t know but are willing to learn more. Many have never held a job in their life. Some might be willing, but unable to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Others discover their innerpreneur, and move on.

The Could Care Less are unwilling and unable to give it a try. Their attitude is , “I went to medical school to take care of patients, not take care of business”. What they don’t realize is that if you don’t take care of business, you have no business taking care of patients.

Here is what I learned teaching sickcare innovation and entrepreneurship to 1st year medical students.

Here is what I learned teaching sickcare innovation and entrepreneurship to a cohort of xMBA/HA students.

If you are part of creating or teaching these programs, you will eventually have to sort the wheat from the chaff. If you are a leaderpreneur, your job will depend on doing so.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Empowering Students and Teachers

Design Thinking for Effective Educational Strategies

Empowering Students and Teachers: Design Thinking for Effective Educational Strategies

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s rapidly changing world, education systems must adapt to meet the needs of students and prepare them for the challenges they will face in their future careers. Traditional teaching methods are no longer sufficient, and educators must embrace innovative approaches that foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. Design thinking, a human-centered approach to problem-solving, has emerged as a powerful tool for shaping effective educational strategies. This article explores how design thinking can empower students and teachers through two case study examples.

Case Study 1: Redesigning the Curriculum

At the Bayside High School in California, educators faced the challenge of creating a curriculum that would engage students and prepare them for the digital age. Using design thinking principles, the school formed a cross-functional team consisting of teachers, administrators, students, parents, and industry professionals. They conducted empathy interviews and observed students in their learning environment to gain a deep understanding of their needs and aspirations.

Through the design thinking process, the team identified a need for more hands-on, project-based learning experiences that would integrate technology and real-world problem-solving. Inspired by this insight, they redesigned the curriculum to incorporate interdisciplinary projects where students collaborated, researched, prototyped, and presented their solutions to community issues.

The results were phenomenal. Students became more engaged, taking ownership of their learning process and connecting with real-world problems. They demonstrated enhanced problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and improved subject-matter understanding. By applying design thinking principles, Bayside High School transformed their curriculum into an effective and empowering one for both students and teachers.

Case Study 2: Enhancing Teacher Professional Development

In a district-wide initiative, the City School District in New York aimed to improve teacher professional development by applying design thinking principles. Educators recognized the importance of providing a supportive environment for teachers to learn and grow, which would ultimately benefit their students.

Using the design thinking process, the district created a teacher-centered approach. They conducted empathy interviews and observed teachers’ struggles and aspirations in their professional development journey. The insights gained helped the district identify gaps and areas of improvement in existing programs.

Armed with this information, the district piloted a new professional development program, which focused on collaboration among teachers, personalized learning experiences, and ongoing support. The program incorporated coaching sessions, peer-to-peer learning, and opportunities for teachers to develop and implement innovative teaching practices.

The results were transformative. Teachers felt empowered, more enthusiastic about their professional growth, and better equipped to meet their students’ needs. The collaborative approach fostered a sense of community among teachers, enabling the sharing of best practices and resources.


Design thinking offers a powerful framework for creating effective educational strategies that empower both students and teachers. By adopting a human-centered approach, education systems can gain a deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of their stakeholders. The case studies presented here demonstrate the positive impact of design thinking on transforming education.

Design thinking encourages a shift from passive learning to active problem-solving, nurturing critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration among students. Moreover, it fosters a supportive environment for teachers to develop and implement innovative teaching methods, leading to improved student outcomes.

As the world continues to evolve, it is imperative for educational institutions to embrace design thinking to empower future generations. By applying empathy, collaboration, prototyping, and iteration, educators can create educational strategies that equip students with the skills and mindset necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing global landscape.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Misterinnovation.com

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Using Boredom to Help Students Learn

Bored Game TeacherWhat do you get when you take the technology away from a group of 10 and 11 year olds and ask them to be creative with a handful of household objects?

Well, Thomas Fraser, a teacher at Crestwood Elementary School in Edmonton, Canada, troubled by the short attention spans of today’s youngsters endeavored to find out by creating what he calls the Bored Game, which involves giving students a handful of common household objects with the only instruction being to do something interesting with them.

The reaction at first from his group of always on youngsters were perplexed looks of how can I create something without an iPad, smartphone or a computer?

Then they started to get into it, and were sad when they didn’t get to play the Bored Game.

CTV recorded an interview about the Bored Game that you can watch here:

(sorry, video is no longer available)

My favorite part of the story is that they’re finding that the performance of the children in a range of subjects is increasing as the children have this periodic time to play and engage their creative problem solving skills.

So, maybe we need less technology in the classroom if we want to teach kids how to learn?

In my opinion, we focus too much on teaching kids to repeat activities, facts, and figures, focusing and what they’re able to memorize and regurgitate and not enough on actually teaching kids creative problem solving and how to learn. We don’t need a new generation of trivia experts, we need a new generation of problem solvers that can help repair the world.

We’ve all heard the saying “If you give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, if you teach a man to finish he’ll never go hungry.”

If you want your child to be more successful, you have to do the same thing…

“Good teachers teach kids how to do well on the test, great teachers teach kids how to learn so they do well in life.”

For more, I encourage you to check out the Edmonton Journal Article (link expired)

Image credit: Edmonton Journal

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Building Virtual Diplomacy

Building Virtual DiplomacyThe Setup

Lets look at Innovation, Crowdsourcing, and the United States Government for a minute…

The world continues to move faster than ever and diplomatic responses from the United States are required that are both increasingly more complex and more urgent, and the required solutions must address the inherent situational challenges while also protecting the interests of the United States and its allies. To deal with this diplomatic reality, the United States State Department is embracing the principles of crowdsourcing, eGovernment, and open innovation and partnering with America’s best universities to help solve the World’s biggest challenges as part of a new initiative called Diplomacy Lab. I found the following after meandering through a bread crumb trail of tweets from @AlecJRoss (Hillary Clinton’s former Chief Innovation Officer):

Diplomacy Lab is designed to address two priorities: first, Secretary Kerry’s determination to engage the American people in the work of diplomacy. And second, the imperative to broaden the State Department’s research base in response to a proliferation of complex global challenges. The initiative enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty experts at universities across the country. Students participating in Diplomacy Lab explore real-world challenges identified by the Department and work under the guidance of faculty members who are authorities in their fields. This initiative allows students to contribute directly to the policymaking process while helping the State Department tap into an underutilized reservoir of intellectual capital. Teams that develop exceptional results and ideas are recognized for their work and may be invited to brief senior State Department officials on their findings.

This then led to me to information about another digital diplomacy program.

US State Department Harnesses Interns Around the Globe to Address Digital Needs

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure, the United States State Department introduced an eIntern program, as detailed on the State Department web site:

Virtual Student Foreign ServiceThe Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement. Working from college and university campuses in the United States and throughout the world, eInterns (American students working virtually) are partnered with our U.S. diplomatic posts overseas and State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the U.S. Commercial Service domestic offices to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. This introductory video provides an overview of the VSFS program.

VSFS eIntern duties and responsibilities will vary according to the location and needs of the VSFS projects identified at the sponsoring domestic or overseas diplomatic office. VSFS projects may be research based, contributing to reports on issues such as human rights, economics or the environment. They may also be more technology oriented, such as working on web pages, or helping produce electronic journals. Selected students are expected to work virtually on an average of 5-10 hours per week on VSFS eInternship projects. Students apply in the summer and if selected, begin the eInternship that fall lasting through spring. Most work and projects are internet-based and some have language requirements. Past projects asked students to:

  • Develop and implement a public relations campaign using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, etc. to communicate and reach out to youth
  • Conduct research on the economic situation, prepare graphic representations of economic data, and prepare informational material for the U.S. Embassy website
  • Create a system to gather and analyze media coverage on a set of topics including environment, health, and trade
  • Develop a series of professional instructional video clips to be published by the U.S. Embassy
  • Survey social media efforts of U.S. diplomatic posts, NGOs, and private companies around the world to help establish best practices in a U.S. Embassy’s social media outreach business plan.

The Conclusion

It is fascinating to see the world changing before our eyes and to see the children and young people of today engaged in commerce and government and entrepreneurship in ways that weren’t available to previous generations of young people. This only helps to accelerate the pace of change. But, the reality is that when an organization sits at the fork in the road and is making the decision of whether or not to actively engage people outside their four walls in their strategic efforts, the choice really is to either ride the crest of the wave by embracing and engaging talent outside your organization or choosing instead to get tumbled and drowned by this wave of progress by doing nothing.

What choice is your government or your organization making?

If you’re not sure how your government or your organization needs to change to adapt to these changing realities, check out my previous article:

What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?

Build a common language of innovation on your team

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