To know your customers, walk in their shoes

In this post, I will continue to share my thoughts on how mapping out our customers’ journey can help us tutors deliver uplifting experiences to our students and the parents. I will touch on one question:

Where do the experiences we deliver begin? Where do these experiences end?

In the Design Thinking course I attended recently, I watched a video on Customer’s Journey Map of someone who visited a coffee shop. The video started with the person seeing the sign of the coffee shop and ends when the person finished her coffee and leaving the coffee shop. This video taught me that a customer’s experience really starts very early and ends much later than after the sale had been made.

As tutors, our customer’s journey may look like this. Note that I am using a case of parents with primary school children. Older students may have a slightly different journey.

The journey illustrated here involves a home tutor who offers one trial lesson to each new student. In each step of the journey, I have included in the brackets an idea for creating an uplifting experience for the parent or child.

Checkpoint 1:
The child does poorly in a test / exam or experience frustration about a subject. Perhaps the parent sends the child for group tuition as a first attempt and find that it does not work, then google for reputable tutor or ask around for recommendations.

(IDEA 1A: Create a one page document in the form of a webpage, PDF or WhatsApp message to make it easy for people to share about you. For example, I have a one page description at created with the help of ClassDo. I summarised my key experiences and qualifications, teaching demo, testimonials and rates in this page.)

Checkpoint 2:
Parent contact (via phone call or whatsapp) the top few shortlisted tutors to ask for rates, availability, teaching approach etc. This is also parents’ first attempt to size up the tutor. Any negotiation of rates usually happens here.

(IDEA 2A: The more standard information you include in the one page document, the less time you waste going through them during this initial call with parents, and the more you can ask good questions about their children’s learning problem, and the more rapport you can build. Remember to ask you-centric questions, as mentioned in Part 2 of this article.)

Checkpoint 3: 
If all goes well, arrange for trial lesson or first lesson. Parents usually will expect detailed instructions for the first lesson e.g. when to meet, how long will the lesson last, when and how to make payment, also if there is anything they need to prepare, for example, the most recent past year papers, textbook, etc.

(IDEA 3A: Have a list of these instruction ready in a message. You can save it in evernote, google docs, or just copy and paste from your old message. The important thing is to be able to tell the parent, “don’t worry about it, I will send you all the instructions in a message later. Anything you are still not sure, just give me a text.” Having such a crafted list makes you look organised and systematic, compared to just rattling off instructions to the parents.)

Checkpoint 4:
Tutor arrives for first lesson.

(IDEA 4A: Be punctual. Aim to reach 15 mins earlier for first lesson. You might just make it right on the dot.)

Checkpoint 5:
Parent show some hospitality and orientates tutor to the study area in the house.

(IDEA 5A: Singaporeans are usually quite home proud. I usually will say something good about the house just to be courteous. Even if I dislike something about the house, I will refrain from commenting too much. However, if the location to be used for tutoring is not conducive, for instance, too dim, too stuffy or too noisy, I will not hesitate to highlight – in a polite way, of course.)

Checkpoint 6:
Tutor and child have lesson.

(IDEA 6A: If you can remember your first day of work, you will probably agree that the main point of the first day is not to do much serious work but to get to know the workplace culture and the people. The same goes with the first lesson. I suggest to focus on clearing max 3 concepts which are difficult to the child. Clarifying difficult concepts tell you the most about the child’s aptitude and attitude, engages him the most and is the strongest proof of your ability to teach.)

Checkpoint 7:
Time’s up, lesson comes to a close. Child gets instruction for homework, maybe get asked what he thinks of the lesson.

(IDEA 7A: Explain why you need to assign homework, and get the child to agree with how much homework is reasonable. You want a buy-in from your student)

(IDEA 7B: Avoid assigning any homework the child cannot easily manage by himself. If you have taught level 3 stuff, assign level 1 or 2 stuff only. The idea of homework is to let him have more practice and feel confident, not to make him feel defeated and confused.)

(IDEA 7C: Thank the child for his time.)

Checkpoint 8:
Parent have a few words with tutor regarding how did the lesson go.

(IDEA 8A: Whether you want to do this face to face or through messages, remember to include (a) what was covered in the session (b) the strengths you see in the child (c) the weaknesses you see (d) what is your plan to help the child. Parents want to see hope. It’s quite pointless to dwell on how poor the child is. And if you keep talking about how weak the child is in front of him, it’ll just set the stage for a strained teacher-student relationship)

Checkpoint 9:
If payment for the trial lesson has been agreed upon, parent makes payment at this point.

(IDEA 9A: I used to have a receipt book chopped with company logo to issue for each cash payment. This gives an experience of accountability and professionalism. The company stamp takes less than $30 to make, while a receipt book can be bought at Popular at less than $10. Small price to pay for branding and to give positive experience.)

Checkpoint 10:
After tutor leave, parent asks child’s feedback about the tutor and the lesson.

(IDEA 10A: When the tutor bothers to ask about how the child feels about the lesson, it gives the experience of care and professionalism. It show the parents that this tutor really want to do his job well. Important thing here is to ask for feedback and just listen. Clarifying any misunderstanding is okay but getting defensive does not help.)

Checkpoint 11:
Parents calls tutor to confirm or reject the subsequent lessons.

(IDEA 11A: Whatever the outcome, remember to thank the parent for her time. If you walk into Starbucks and then decided not to order a drink, you will never get chided for it. The same goes with the experience we want to give here.)

If you can implement most of the pointers, I believe that your students and the parents will feel that you are a very different tutor who play to a different standard. When you do these things consistently it becomes part of you. It will become your personal brand.

(Part 3 of 4)

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