Category Archives: Education

How Do You Make Business Personal for New Employees?

W. P. Carey School of Business, Where Business is Personal

ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business is committed to creating an experience for our students that’s uniquely their own by building a tight-knit community through small classes, team-based learning, and individualized attention every step of the way.  As one of the largest business schools in the country, we recognize that working towards this goal every day is a big commitment for our employees.  Ownership of this commitment has to be demonstrated not only by what our employees do as they fulfill their jobs, but also by their understanding of the service needs attached to this commitment. It’s about caring and having this ‘humane attribute’ that naturally flows through the bloodstream (metaphorically speaking).  So one of our overarching school goals is to ‘grow’ student-centric behavior and create a community of caring that is reflected in service performance.

Where do we start? How do we make a service focus to be a school-wide priority and translate it into action?

Together with the Center for Services Leadership, the HR Development team at the W. P. Carey School organized a workshop for its leadership— the faculty and staff who have a direct influence on the behaviors of employees who provide our services. The workshop was led by Dr. Amy Ostrom, PetSmart Chair in Service Leadership and resident Service Blueprinting expert.  She, first, introduced our front line leaders to Service Blueprinting. After that, 3 teams worked through a service focused blueprinting process with a goal to evaluate and enhance the orientation and onboarding experience for new employees – one of the key internal services that impacts the school.

Here’s what we experienced and achieved as we worked through the service blueprinting process:

  • We defined the current orientation and onboarding process and then identified ways to enhance a new employee’s experience.
  • We built a common understanding of the internal services which cross over into different work groups across the school.
  • We recognized the impact of individual roles and activities on the level of service.

As a result of the insights that surfaced, our team implemented the following changes:

  • Created a designated area on the school website that offers online resources to support new employees.
  • Developed templates for consistent communication, including checklists for service handoffs.
  • Created a sense of ownership in coordinating services to enhance a new employee’s experience e.g. breaking down silos instead of creating them.
  • Established an actionable plan with specific time and resource commitments, communicating the school’s dedication to providing a meaningful and well-designed service.

Where do we go from here?

The service blueprinting exercise revealed the differences between orientation and onboarding in terms of timing and priorities for each phase. We defined orientation as the initial “set up” phase during the first month, which later transitions into an onboarding process. The onboarding process continues throughout the first year accompanied by consistent interactions via interviews and surveys. From this blueprinting experience, we divided our services into two distinct, yet integrated areas – orientation and onboarding – and both are a reflection of how we care for our employees.

As a school committed to building a community that provides the services our students need, we have to continuously demonstrate how we care about our employees. We’re incorporating this caring and thoughtful approach in how we engage our employees starting from the beginning of employment and continuing through their time with the school. We do that by systematically checking the pulse of our employees’ ‘service health’ and by continuously looking for ways we can perform employee services demonstrating that we care – because we do.


Beth Sepnieski has been the Human Resources Director for the W. P. Carey School of Business since April 2004.  She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources and a Masters in Education with an emphasis in Counseling and Human Relations. Beth also has a senior professional human resources (SPHR) certification through the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) and has been trained and certified in the interpretation of the Predictive Index; a self-assessment tool used within the School to help improve communication, team interaction, and decision making at all levels.

Over her 30 years in Human Resources, Beth has conducted numerous workshops on a wide range of topics.  Her ‘hands on’ consultation and guidance has provided a variety of her customers with sound tools to cut through to problem solving possibilities in order to promote a more productive work environment.

Interview with Dr. Doug Olsen, Faculty Director of Services Leadership Institute

Doug OlsenIn preparation for the 29th annual Services Leadership Institute (SLI), March 30 – April 1st,  2015, we sat down with Doug Olsen, SLI Faculty Director and Associate Professor of Marketing at W.P. Carey School of Business, ASU, to talk about some of the highlights of this year’s program.

1. This year marks the 29thoffering of the Service Leadership Institute. I would imagine that some of the key issues have changed considerably over this time.

A. This is unquestionably true. Initially the goal was to realize some of the fundamentals regarding what steps it takes to create service excellence and SLI was at the vanguard of this movement. While we still make sure that this base is covered, over time some of the issues critical in top professional service have evolved considerably and the sessions have advanced to reflect this.

2. Are there any that are particularly notable?

A. While I am hard pressed to think of any of the sessions as not being particularly cutting edge, there are a number that really stand out in this regard. Gary Bridge always brings current issues pertaining to the integration of technology into service delivery. Gary has such a strong background in the technology field, but more than anything, I am always amazed at his ability to present information that is contemporary, as well as some information that is at least five years ahead of the curve.

Steve Brown will be talking about moving companies along the service continuum – from the addition of basic services, such as technical support, to services that seek to provide a host of core competencies for the client organization in response to fast changes in business environment and evolving customer needs. This is something that a number of companies are struggling with as they seek to grow their profitability and enhance customer retention.

This year we are also very excited to have David Bowen joining us to examine some issues relevant to service culture. David is not only a world-recognized figure in service research, but also a new member of the ASU team now that ASU and Thunderbird have joined forces.

Also returning this year is Roger Hallowell. Roger was on faculty at Harvard, has written a number of influential cases in the area of services and is currently with HEC Paris. He is a highly sought after speaker in Executive Education circles and we are really thankful to have him this year.

3. Are there any other tools that stand out?

A. Definitely. Dr. Mary Jo Bitner, the Executive Director of the Center for Services Leadership, will be providing an examination of critical gaps in the delivery of services, a practical and powerful tool that can help managers identify what steps to take to make sure that their organization is properly aligned to have a strong service orientation.

Dr. Amy Ostrom will also be discussing issues pertaining to service blueprinting and giving individuals a chance to apply these skills. Service blueprinting has become an incredibly valuable tool for many organizations to identify key pain points faced by customers as well as internal pain points experienced by the service organization itself.

4. There is a lot of talk these days about developing a culture of service.  Is there anything at SLI this year that speaks to this?

A. I think there are a number of sessions that deal with this head on. While I will be talking about some of the key barriers to organizational change, Steve Church and Terry Cain from Avnet will be focusing on building a culture of service excellence.  We are also fortunate to have the embodiment of what it means to develop a culture of service excellence with Chris Zane, from Zane’s Cycles. The presentation from Chris is high energy and exceptional at driving home how the authentic delivery of customer care and consistent service innovation can lead to an incredibly competitive organization.

5. Is there anything else that you feel differentiates you from other programs dealing with the service experience? 

A. I think there are a lot of phenomenal people out there seeking to advance service excellence and I applaud all of these efforts. One of the things that we offer is providing an on-campus learning experience; the sessions are both in-depth and academically focused and are taught by top academic faculty and business leaders. This year is exciting as it is the first year we will be offering the program in McCord Hall, our new state-of-the-art building designed for our MBA and Executive programs.

The program also provides an excellent opportunity to make great professional connections. Attendees are people who are leading their companies’ effort in designing and delivering great service. SLI is a chance to connect with like-minded individuals, share recent successes and challenges. The interactions and networking with other participants are an added bonus that enhances the SLI experience. And you can’t beat the weather! It is the best time to visit Arizona.


To learn more about the Services Leadership Institute visit the Center for Services Leadership website.

Transforming Service Delivery in Higher Education and Healthcare

by Raghu Santanam

Service innovations are notoriously difficult. It takes decades for innovations to penetrate market. More importantly, managers and service professionals are incredibly slow to react to consumer needs. While many frameworks exist to help us think through innovation ideas, we often ignore lessons learnt from other industries.

The service related challenges in Higher Education and Healthcare are particularly vexing and can benefit from some lateral thinking borrowed from related professional services industries. Higher education and healthcare industries are a significant part of the service economy. According to the Department of Education, total revenues at U.S. public and private universities in 2009-10 exceeded $400 billion (National Center for Education Statistics). According to the Department of Commerce, US hospital revenues exceeded $800 billion in 2010, and outpatient services accounted for another $750 billion (SelectUSA). Clearly, the potential for improving societal welfare by addressing the service delivery challenges in these two industries is enormous!

Many academics, practitioners and entrepreneurs are busy addressing these challenges. However, in my opinion, the focus has been mostly on changing industry structure and funding models. Efforts to improve service delivery in both education and healthcare have been sporadic and limited. Clearly, we need to do more.

Let us look at higher education first. Continue reading