A Speedy, Thoughtful Graduation: 5 Customer Questions

This past Wednesday, we attended Akilah’s graduation from middle school. Based on the two- hour sports award program the prior week (I was nearly homicidal), I approached it with a questionable attitude, though we were obviously very happy for her. The principal spoke along with the “Teacher of the Year,” 10 honors students were recognized with each sharing personal comments, and nearly 200 adolescents received their graduation diploma with a personal handshake on stage. To our joyful surprise, the entire graduation took only 65 minutes. Afterward, everyone took time for hugs, photographs, and sage advice in the reception hall. It was wonderful.

When you plan for any undertaking involving many diverse customers, think carefully about the following:

  • Where is the greatest benefit for your customer? The graduation ceremony planners sought input from working families last year and “heard” that they wanted a brief ceremony with some time afterward for celebration. Many had to take unpaid breaks from their workday, so time was precious.
  • How will you respond to inevitable breakdowns? The ceremony started a couple of minutes late, so the principal abbreviated her opening remarks to get the schedule back on track.
  • How do you focus on individual customers as well as the larger group of customers? The principal asked everyone to refrain from applauding until after the last student had received a diploma. There were only a couple of happy hollers and even those were restrained. The applause at the end was a celebration for everyone.
  • What is the “take away” for your customer? The graduates received diplomas and the families had a strong feeling that the school was focused on their family and time together. In the reception hall I heard a couple parents say “that was just right.”
  • How can you apply learning to the future? I suggest that they consider this successful event when planning for next sports awards program.

Remember, you have customers because they believe your products or services have value for them.