How The Student Experience Can Provide Learnings For The Customer Experience

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April 30, 2018

How The Student Experience Can Provide Learnings For The Customer Experience

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Steve Spangler is the science teacher you wish you had. Click To Tweet

Most everyone has at least one teacher from childhood, or maybe from high school or college, that they remember because the teacher did something different and better. And the very best ones are able to take complex subjects like science and make them fun to learn.
Spangler, the founder of Steve Spangler Science, began his career as an elementary school science teacher in the early 1990s and immediately found that kids learned best when the instruction was turned into an experience.

“I was doing anything possible to try to get kids excited about science,” he said during a recent episode of the Experience This! Show. “Flash, bang, boom – whatever it might be, our goal was to create an experience that would ultimately get kids thinking about a STEM-based career long before we were talking about careers centering around science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Just as companies are finding that a remarkable customer experience can be a brand differentiator, Spangler found that the same holds true for teachers and students. Call it the “student experience.”
As Spangler found success in connecting with students, other teachers began to take notice.

“I found that teachers wanted to create similar experiences in their classroom for their kids,” he said. “And I learned during that time that great teachers really are great experience makers.”

So Spangler started teaching in a different way – he traveled the country and presented thousands science shows at hundreds of schools. While many shows were aimed at students, some were produced for teachers in a “train the trainer” approach.
Today his business still attracts both students and teachers. He sells hundreds of products that are directly for kids (including a science kit-of-the-month club), but also hundreds of classroom kits that teachers can use to demonstrate the learnings from science lessons in an experiential way.
Popular products include Super Slime (Spangler was an early pioneer of the current make-your-own slime craze); Insta-Snow, a powdered polymer that instantly makes gallons of realistic, fluffy “snow” when mixed with water; Jelly Marbles, which start as tiny polymer beads but are super-absorbent so they “grow” to the size of gumballs when soaked in water; The Geyser Tube®, which replicates the famous Mentos-in-Diet-Coke experiment; and Energy Sticks, which turn your body into a human conductor of electricity.

Spangler has appeared on The Ellen Show with Ellen DeGeneres many times to perform his now-famous science experiments, but he still focuses much of his time training other teachers to create remarkable experiences in their classrooms.

“To connect, to engage, and to create unforgettable experiences – those are the three qualities of every great teacher on the planet,” Spangler said. “Great teachers know how to build connections with students in such a way that it stimulates engagement, makes them want to learn more, and ultimately they create their own experience.”

So how can other leaders employ Spangler’s educational approach to their own businesses?

Empower employees to provide great experiences for customers , much as Spangler empowers teachers to provide memorable experiences for students.
Try to turn mundane experiences (even legal disclosures) into fun ones by injecting some humor or levity into your language.
Use focus groups of real customers to better understand how your product or service is consumed. The way kids describe Spangler’s science experiments is not the same as how a copywriter would in a marketing campaign.

Forbes Contributor
Dan Gingiss, A marketing and customer experience executive who has consistently focused on delighting customers.  READ MORE>
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