Illustration of the goals of the InComm Collective Intelligence Conference

Building a Customer Journey

Collective Intelligence Conference

Interactive Online: February 2021

This conference brought together a variety of stakeholders and practitioners from different European Institutions to exchange and discuss the welcoming and onboarding processes for international master’s and doctoral students.

What is the Collective Intelligence Conference?

During the Collective Intelligence Conference we drafted the ideal customer journey for masters and PhD’s. We used the input of all participants, thus calling it “collective intelligence”. During the event, our moderators, supported by a team of students, collected ideas, best practices and presented them to the entire group. We divided each section of the customer journey by 3 phases: Attractiveness, Selection & Application, Formalities – First Days, and Onboarding – First 100 Days.

We therefore developed two Customer Journeys: 

  • Master’s Track: The Ideal Welcome Process for Master’s Students
  • PhD Track: The Ideal Welcome Process for PhD’s

Expert Meeting Results

During the conference, an expert meeting was held on each of the following topics: Admissions, Intro Programs, the International Classroom, and Onboarding. Below you will find illustrated minutes from what was discussed in each of these meetings, as well as the text outlines of these illustrated minutes.

Text Outlines of Expert Meeting Results

  • Shift to Personal Experience Mindset: from degree to lifelong journey
  • Communication is essential!
    • Personalized Approach
      • Send relevant emails and check-in via call
      • Well-balanced
      • Establish connection between PhD's and their supervisors - before application!
    • Clear & accessible website
      • Include videos, images & infographics
      • Multi-language
    • Chatbots
    • WhatsApp: Make social media accessible for all
    • Have a welcome app
    • Help with language barriers & local culture
    • Weekly Newsletter
  • Coordinated admission offices
  • Focus on well-being and work-life balance
  • Attract talents by:
    • Including spouses and family - happy spouse, happy employee!
    • offer working opportunities for loved ones
    • provide daycare, free language courses and visa
  • Buddy programs
    • Mentoring, tandems
    • Peer-to-peer communication (even before arrival!)
  • Expectation management
  • Tackle discrimination through mandatory intercultural awareness courses
  • Before arrival:
    • Welcome app: admission letter, the welcome app should describe what the next steps are for the student, including the orientation day, introductory courses, and introduction to how to obtain housing
    • Buddy Programme
    • Webinars: to describe/guide students through first steps in detail
    • Arrival (all students on the same day)
  • Foster cooperation between the administration and academic dpartments
  • Find a common language
  • Be flexible when communicating and be reachable
  • Funding is essential
  • Avoid information overload
    • Students might be overwhelmed by academic freedom
    • Provide an emotional support system as part of an academic culture
  • Create academic policies
    • Code of Conduct
    • Vision on Education
  • Focus on teachers, students and the institution
  • Foster inclusive communities
    • Have a policy on a common language
    • Having a buddy can help students include each other
    • Celebrate cultural diversity: enrichment for all
  • The classroom should:
    • be a social space
    • have an atmosphere of respect
    • allow people to contribute
    • appreciate prior learnings
    • be a space for meaningful questions and communication
    • constantly evaluate and improve
  • Training and courses for teachers should include intercultural awareness and diversity.
  • Plan for internationalization at home
  • Have a community manager
  • Provide a place to meet for students with free activities.
  • Teach cultural awareness during the welcome days.
  • Inclusion is a two-way street: give students opportunities to belong, but allow them to be themselves
  • Good HR is crucial: qualified, open, tolerant
  • Have a place for conflicts and complaints
  • Make administration more transparent: put everything together
  • Focus on Communication: find the sweet spot between too much and too little
  • Create a personal relationship: provide support, information and assistance
  • Well-being: dont' forget mental health issues
  • Organize small-scale activities throughout the semester for "I hate this shit" days.
  • Provide self-training interventions with weekly assignements

Customer Journey Results

After a week of conferring with the conference participants virtually, the following draft Customer Journeys were created from the discussions held in each expert meeting and collected in Jamboard form. Below you can find the results that came out of each of these meetings for each phase.

Customer Journey_Admissions Phase Results

Customer Journey_Introduction Programs Phase Results

Customer Journey_Onboarding Phase Results

Customer Journey_Recap Results

Event Program

To read more details about how we set up and organized this event, please see our event program.