‘Optimising the Student Journey’ – a couple of stop-offs on our travels

Guest post by Jean Mutton (@myderbi)

As part of the Optimising the student journey project, Ruth Drysdale and I were invited to visit Queens University Belfast, to run a workshop on understanding the student experience and journey mapping with a small group of staff led by Olivia Roberts (Head of Student Services and Systems).

I had previously worked with Queens, introducing them to the service design (SD) approaches which we had taken at Derby University to improve student enrolment. Queens took these ideas onboard and developed them to great success (resulting in a THELMA) so we knew that they were already au fait with the concepts behind taking a user-centred approach.

Drawing on some student feedback (pain points) as well as survey and other data sent in advance, the staff were taken through a short deep dive SD process which resulted in ideas for changes to information systems (looking at how, when and who holds the data) which would impact on communications and the felt student experience. However, although we surfaced some real potential solutions, the main aim was to introduce the team to SD tools and techniques, in particular, personas, service blueprinting and journey mapping, so that they could begin to see how they could themselves map the end-to-end student journey in relation to how data is held and managed in their student records system.

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A not untypical soaking to the skin in Glasgow – luckily I had my suitcase with me and a complete change of clothes later I was ready to go.

The next day, Ruth and I travelled up to Glasgow as, following on from a session which we had delivered at the UCISA conference in July, we had been invited to run a full day workshop on student journey mapping for a group of 24 librarians from (mainly) Scottish Universities (though there were one or two interlopers).

As we were about to leave the hotel we ran into a rainstorm and I got as wet as I have been for quite a while as I had to make a mercy dash to W H Smiths to stock up on workshop materials.

The room was a challenge – there were no tables and it got rather hot, but once the delegates were into four groups they began brainstorming who their ‘customers’ were which resulted in a rough and ready stakeholder map.

Identifying key users with a rough and ready map of stakeholders of university library services.

Identifying key users with a rough and ready map of stakeholders of university library services.

We moved onto developing personas and an introduction to service blueprinting, taking our student personas on a trip to buy a coffee to get the delegates used to thinking through the ‘journey’ step by step in a chronological fashion with all the component parts, front stage and back stage, mapped out in detail.

Putting together a student persona

Putting together a student persona

Personas help build empathy by getting ‘under the skin’ of the service users and seeing the service through their eyes.

The groups then each decided on a design challenge given the open format:

A user story template. "As a ... I want to ... So that I can..."

A user story template

This led them to map out what that service journey would look like from the end-user perspective, picking out ‘fail’ and ‘wait’ points, where resources could be targeted to best effect to make service improvements.

Image of delegates taking part in a workshop

The delegates really got into mapping the journey in detail in the service blueprint.

Later, we touched on other types of mapping, emotional journey mapping for example, but there was no time to go into these in any real depth. The day was really was a Cook’s tour through service design principles and the benefits of journey mapping,

And so the day ended in sunshine and we spilled out onto the streets of Glasgow, ready for our tea and cake.
If you want more information about approaches to improve the student experience take a look at the Jisc InfoKit: http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/infokits/relationship-management/

Jean Mutton, Sept 21015

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