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Student Spotlight: Sitara Ramakrishnan

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Sitara Ramakrishnan

By Academy Xi

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Meet Academy Xi graduate and Customer Experience Measurement Advisor at iCare NSW, Sitara Ramakrishnan! 

DJ turned CX professional Sitara took not one but two of our courses this year. Here, Sitara tells her story and talks about reaffirming her passion for Service Design, as well as her overall course experience.

Student Spotlight: Sitara Ramakrishnan

Hi Sitara, which course did you study with Academy Xi?

I studied both the Service Design Elevate and User Experience (UX) Foundations courses! I finished both my courses at the end of June 2021.

Were you studying or working in a related field or something completely different?

I’m currently working in Customer Experience Measurement at iCare NSW, with our broader team consisting of Customer Advocates, CX Designers & Analysts.

What prompted you to study this course?

After working in CX for over a year alongside talented Design practitioners, I was really drawn to the processes, unique opportunities and genuine social impact delivered through Service Design. I believed I had the capability and potential to excel in this field, once I had a stronger grasp of the methodologies, techniques and ways of thinking that underpin design. Curating and crafting my own design portfolio to help solve the social issues I’m most passionate about has been a great experience.

Why did you choose to study with Xi?

The course structure was the main reason I chose Xi – it mixes theory in a clear and succinct fashion, continuous practical application of project work and ongoing collaboration with our classmates and mentors. The fact that we move through the entire end-to-end design process in a rapid yet structured fashion with weekly outputs was a huge bonus. It allowed me to clearly see the evolution of my project over time before the final showcase.

Highlight of your training?

The moment I completed and submitted my final state blueprint it felt like such an achievement and something I never would’ve known how to do, visualise and communicate in the way that I do now. Seeing the service organically progress through every part of the design process was so eye-opening and fulfilling. And lastly, being able to showcase my project and all my learnings with my fellow classmates was also a major highlight!

“The moment I completed and submitted my final state blueprint it felt like such an achievement and something I never would’ve known how to do– Sitara Ramakrishnan

How did you find the online learning experience?

The online nature of the course is great. The content is presented and articulated in a very clear, insightful and thought-provoking way. The ability to connect with classmates from any corner of Australia by interacting with their weekly outputs, queries and comments alongside our fortnightly classes made it much easier to stay connected and learn from others.

Did your training with Xi assist you with a new career path or job change?

Absolutely! The course has reaffirmed my passion, confidence and capability in Service Design as the next step for me. I’m grateful to be working for an organisation that is supportive of my career development and objectives to help me achieve this.

Do you have a mentor now or are you planning on finding one?

Throughout my course and afterwards, I’ve been lucky enough to receive mentorship from a talented CX Designer at my work to help reach my full potential. My mentor has been instrumental in further elevating my knowledge and skillset with weekly advice and feedback on the various artefacts I produced or tested with them.

Academy Xi: Client Success Stories

Insurance provider – Preparing job-leavers to re-enter the job market

By Academy Xi

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The challenge: Redundancies are never easy. Our client, a major Australian insurance provider, was committed to supporting people during periods of redundancy by providing them with relevant skills training to ease their transition.

The outcome: A total of 50 participants were provided with a 1:1 consultation ahead of choosing a course that best suited their goals. 30 hours of practical skills training and employee development followed to kick-start their new direction.

Learners cited the program as a rewarding personal development opportunity and a good use of what would otherwise have been unproductive time.

The aim was clear: create better, more sustainable opportunities for people through training. The consultative process involved Academy Xi working with work-leavers to identify which specific skills needed to be learned for a person to move into an emerging area. Key areas of focus included digital literacy, data literacy and human-centred design.

Learners could choose to upskill in in-demand areas such as Digital Marketing, User Experience Design, Product Management, Data Analytics, User Interface Design, Service Design or Graphic Design.

Key outputs:

  • Supportive transition strategy
  • Provision of future skills training
  • 1:1 tailored coaching for job-leavers
  • Risk and reputation management
  • Empathetic, consultative approach
  • Opportunity for redeployment
  • Reduction in complaints

Academy Xi: Client Success Stories

Transforming friction into empathy

By Academy Xi

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The challenge: The NSW Department of Education needed help to enhance communication between its help desk staff and teachers across NSW. Both sides felt frustrated and neither could identify how to communicate more effectively.

The outcome: Following extensive research across eight different locations, Academy Xi helped co-design a twofold solution incorporating customer-centricity and service design called the “Embedding Empathy Project”.

  • 1) Create a Way of Working (WoW) framework that supported individuals to think and work more collaboratively and
  • 2) Use this framework to drive staff training in empathy across the organisation.

“We worked closely with Academy Xi as our strategic design partner to co-design a customer-centric Way of Working framework, set of supporting capabilities and a guidebook containing tools and templates. Academy Xi performed deep research insights for the organisation which contributed hugely to the program’s success”

- Carmelina Senese, Director Customer Experience, NSW Department of Education.

For this project, co-design was the obvious choice. Co-design allows for the design approach to take place with stakeholders and business representatives, rather than alongside. This means that capability is continuously built upon over the life of a project. This capability remains in-house ensuring long-term success.

Staff on both sides discovered that there was a “lack of understanding and clarity on how teams can work together” and that many team members were “reluctant to adopt changes due to technology gaps and the volume of change.” Team training and employee development were needing to be prioritised.

This “Embedding Empathy Project” was able to illustrate that 99.9% of people want to do the best by the customer, they just need the right tools. By learning some key customer centricity and human centred design principles, the relationship between the two teams was able to be improved.

Key outputs:

  • Increased empathy
  • Simplified processes
  • Open lines of communication
  • Customer-centric playbook
  • Internal program champions
  • Multimedia training assets
  • Higher employee satisfaction
  • Reduction in complaints
  • New capabilities

Academy Xi Blog

3 practical steps for driving CX success as a Digital Marketer

By Joshua Price

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“Today’s consumers do not differentiate between a brand experience and customer experience. As a result, CX and marketing teams must work together to develop a unified vision and align resources to connect the brand promise and experience with the customer experience.” – Source: Forrester

In an increasingly competitive industry, companies are turning to Customer Experience frameworks to help differentiate their brand. Often defined as the sum total of a customer’s interactions and perceptions of a brand’s products and services, the responsibility for CX doesn’t sit solely within the Digital Marketing wheelhouse. However, Digital Marketing forms a pivotal part of implementing a CX strategy.

Most digital marketers are aware of the role CX plays in improving both brand perception and customer loyalty. What they’re lacking however, is the practical knowledge required to start driving CX success within their team and broader organisation. Here are three key concepts that serve as a starting point for delivering better customer experiences. 

#1 Getting your data right and data storytelling

The first step to creating a successful CX strategy is to make sure your data processes and strategy is correct. In the haste of developing CX that delights customers, an often overlooked need is the ability to measure if optimisations are having an impact. Are you capturing where your customers come from, and how they engage with your content? Do you have the right dashboards to properly analyse and present your key metrics? 

Once those key processes are in place, you can begin to analyse and draw customer insights from your data. Data is specifically essential in the ability to target, segment, and personalise content for audiences.

Being data-driven is certainly one of the most aspired-to business objectives, but it’s important to remember that not everyone has the ability to analyse and draw insights from data at a glance. That’s why data storytelling is one of the most important tools in the CX kit. Quite simply, data storytelling is the ability to communicate key insights in a simple and holistic way.


#2 Customer journey mapping

A customer journey map is a visual representation of not only touchpoints a customer has with your company, but also their changing thoughts, actions and goals as they move towards purchase. Typically a customer journey map will be sectioned into phases in the customer journey, from awareness, consideration, purchase, and retention. 

Amongst others, the key advantages to creating a customer journey map are:

  • Understanding what content is being delivered to your customer across different channels;
  • Providing much-needed context around what the customer is thinking at different phases of the journey so you can determine if the content you’re delivering is meeting the customers expectations; and 
  • Visualising the entire buyer lifecycle, to identify gaps or opportunities for better communication.


#3 Creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A core concept for companies that adhere to the Agile framework, and one you may be familiar with, is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This approach allows for the creation of a product with just enough features to be usable (viable) for customers, who then directly or indirectly provide feedback on the product. Using this approach, companies can avoid lengthy or unnecessary work.

While building an MVP is most common in software development, the technique can be just as effective when devising a CX strategy. Creating an MVP version of a customer journey optimisation, or new campaign launch, allows you to measure if what you are creating matches your customers expectations, or even better, exceeds them. This approach also ensures that you’re focusing your efforts on initiatives that work.

For Digital Marketers in particular, you could view MVPs as similar to an A/B test. Where a concept, process (or product of course), is tested in the market to determine feasibility for future resourcing and investment.

Whichever concept you decide to go with, it’s imperative for Digital Marketers and CX teams to ensure consistent and ongoing alignment of brand and customer experiences. Your business depends on it.


Looking for practical CX training? 

The Customer Experience Elevate course at Academy Xi is an online, 10-week part-time course geared towards providing you with the complete CX toolkit (including those mentioned above) to implement your CX strategy. Complement your existing professional expertise and boost your career with in-demand Customer Experience skills. 

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