For the past decade, I worked as a university administrator and it’s my dream to apply design thinking to innovating higher education programs and processes. We recently partnered with the University of Connecticut Foundation to rethink Annual Giving, and were incredibly inspired by the collaboration and outcome. In describing our work to key higher education leaders, we’ve learned that admissions is an interesting and ripe place for our higher education colleagues to conceptualize service design.

I’ve recently had the pleasure to use my background in Higher Education to design a better Campus Visit experience through Futurice’s three hour Service Design workshop in Helsinki, Finland.

As part of the workshop, we broke into small teams, and spent three hours reimagining the campus visit tour experience.

Service Design Map

First, our team of five decided to design for a primary persona (a parent of a high school senior), and a secondary persona (a high school senior).

On post-its, we wrote out the likely motivations for each of these personas, and explored the resources and constraints of the university. Note: If this were a real service design project, qualitative user research -- or ethnographic interviews -- would have provided essential data here.

We synthesized this information and mapped out what the experience or “journey” would look like for the parent and student. From there, we ideated and designed a holistic experience with human and digital touchpoints. Here are a few ideas we came up with:

  • Students and/or parents walk into the Admissions Hub and download the 4Y1D “Four Years, One Day” app. 
  • Visitors toggle their top interests/priorities on an interactive screen with choices ranging from religion, to athletics, to music.
  • In real time, custom itineraries are generated for the student and parent.
  • Visitors are matched with current student tour guides based on algorithmic compatibility. Tour guides have one minute to accept the request, and ten minutes to arrive. (Think Uber or Lyft!)
  • The prospective student and parents are met by tour guides at the Admissions Hub and escorted to their first destinations. On their way to that destination, the next tour guide is beckoned to meet them there. 
  • Parents and students have the chance to rate tour guides. Tour guides that rate highly with parents are most often matched with parents in the future.
  • Tour guides enter their impressions of students, which are automatically entered into their admissions file.

The above scenario gives you a taste of the kind of ideas that can be generated from a few hours of service design. 

To learn about service design in more depth, register for Cooper’s hands-on, two-day Service Design Immersive. The next class is in San Francisco on November 29, 2017.