Facilitating for better customer experience

I had the pleasure of facilitating two workshops with Pia Rytilahti in mid-February. The workshops were part of study unit of developing service for future nurses. The objective of the course is to teach how to develop services in health sector.

Prior the development workshops the students had observed different phases of customer experience and made short reports of their observations. In addition, based on the observations personas were created to make the results more tangible. The feedback from the health center personnel for the results were encouraging. The findings were familiar to them, but to hear them presented from customer point if view made them real. Also, the need for changes in customer experience became clearer.

The planning of the facilitation script started way before any results of observations were received. This is quite often the case in ‘real life’, too. As a matter of fact, a facilitator is to put the structure to the workshop and to oversee it meeting it targets. In depth understanding of the content takes seldom place. We knew in which phase the students should be when it was time to run the workshops, so that formed the base for the way we should run it. Members of the personnel was to join each group.

After a couple of meeting s with the course responsible Kirsi Ronkainen we decided to use the method World Café around four themes selected by students for ideation. That was basically the content of the first workshop. In World Café the group rotates from one theme to the next one generating development ideas of the theme in question. The last group after the round created an affirmation map with prioritizing the ideas on flipchart.

The original plan was to run identical workshop on the second day as the members of the personnel were different persons. However, the number of students were four times as many and it would have not benefitted the outcome as frustration was evidently to occur. Therefore, we asked the groups to rethink the prioritizing, choose to work further, create stakeholder maps and at the end a swimlane map with timed actions to execute the idea.

The key learnings were that storytelling is an effective tool to make the development areas tangible, especially when the participants come from different backgrounds. Evaluation after workshop is essential, thus we made the decision to change the facilitation script for the latter one. And to talk about facilitation script, it is good write one with all the needed equipment, the purpose, method and outcome of each section run during the workshop. To have the eye on group dynamics is the responsibility of a good facilitator. And last but not least, to keep the time to ensure the set outcome.

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