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East Tennessee Customer Centered Design Mini-Institutes

In May 2016, Maher & Maher partnered with the Northeast Tennessee Workforce Development Board Alliance for Business and Training (AB&T) to conduct three mini-institutes on Customer Centered Design (CCD) for the newly-formed East Tennessee Region. The objectives of the project were to: 

  • Focus on customer centered design and effective customer service strategies and approaches to incorporate into strategic plans for the region’s American Job Centers and lead to positive outcomes;
  • Develop a customer service culture which will be nurtured and permeate every aspect of services delivered in each LWDA and the region as a whole; and
  • Prepare for WIOA implementation with a strong emphasis on understanding, implementing, and conveying to customers those goals and objectives outlined in the local and regional Strategic Plans.

During the initial phase of the project, Maher & Maher completed a SWOT analysis through phone interviews with leadership in each of the five local workforce development areas that comprise the East TN Region. As a result of these insights, the project team identified potential focus areas for the institutes.

The half-day mini-institutes, held in late June, were attended by 64 individuals from a variety of workforce partners within the region. Attendees were grounded in the five steps of customer-centered design, and also engaged as a team in experiential learning activities to develop each team’s plan of action moving forward. The three projects that were started as a result of the mini-institutes were:

  1. Improving accessibility of centers for individuals with disabilities;
  2. Serving out-of-school youth effectively; and
  3. Enhancing the welcome desk and related services to improve customer satisfaction.

After the mini-institutes, the project team facilitated a final webinar with institute attendees to serve as a catalyst to keep momentum going and build a support network in the East TN Region as work continues. The webinar:

  • Refreshed Customer-Centered Design and “Design Thinking” concepts to the group;
  • Explored themes from the mini-institutes across the region;
  • Provided an opportunity to share how local teams are reimagining the approach to delivery of high quality services; and
  • Engaged attendees in an interactive dialogue to discuss the challenges and opportunities teams have faced since putting CCD learning into practice.