Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Customer-centered culture in virtual schools

"I can't put a finger on when it happened but I can definitely tell things are different," said a client of mine recently while we were on the phone discussing the retention culture we were building.

He shared with me that their engagement rate year-over-year had increased almost 25% and the attrition rate had decreased by over 20%. It mirrored a conversation I had with another client on the other side of the coast.

Our focus, our attention was on culture building, not engagement or retention programs. Programs are easier to build and easier to measure and track. However, cultures are what make the difference. Change the culture first then build the programs. You see, programs are not inherently bad or ineffective. However, they must flow from a proper perspective and culture if they are to have the type of impact potential desired.

As I write this I am situated on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, just around the corner from Starbucks. And I am reminded constantly of the difference that a culture centered on the customer can make. The effort put in by Disney to constantly surprise, serve, and WOW the customer rises to a level envied by many but seldom mirrored, especially in education.

Disney has a culture built around the customer. Therefore, the programs it offers has a feel of authenticity to them even though they are scripted and rehearsed. There is a genuineness to the kindness of the Cast Members because of the culture of expectation built into the role. There is an obsession with the attention to detail in the architecture, the colors, the songs, the texture of the streets and pathways, the flowers, the Cast Member costumes, and more.

Families arrive on Main Street needing a vacation. However, what they want is an experience worth sharing. Disney takes care of the need by focusing their attention on serving the want and the emotions attached to the want.

Virtual schools should take heed and learn from the Mouse.

Do you know what your families need?

More importantly, do you know what your families want?

Even more importantly, do you know what emotions are attached to that want?

Once you do, then you can begin to serve them properly -- not with programs but with a culture centered on meeting those wants and emotions.

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