Customer Experience Development: Balboa Park Learning Institute

Balboa Park Learning Institute


Home to museums, performing arts venues, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park in San Diego is the nation’s largest urban cultural park. The Balboa Park Learning Institute (BPLI) is is a professional education program and learning community for staff and volunteers in arts, science, and cultural institutions in the Park. In 2013, BPLI launched a Park-wide customer service initiative to identify and articulate what outstanding customer service in the Park looks like and develop a Park-wide training for all organizations. The initiative brought together 33 participants from 17 institutions who had never worked together before. BPLI wanted a framework for collaboration and group process, and actionable concepts for customer service training modules, and our design thinking workshop provided both the framework and the actionable outcomes.


We produced a customized two-day design thinking training in which we worked with staff to guide their efforts around improving the customer experience in the Park. Our goal was not only to introduce staff to the principles of human-centered design, but to leave them with actionable steps for developing the training program. The group is now applying the design thinking process to the development of customer service training modules which will are being rolled out with all institutions across the Park.

This video, produced by the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, depicts the participants in action in our design thinking workshop. You can see glimpses of them testing their prototypes (including a prototype made of school chairs and cardboard for an electric mini car that visitors can rent inside the park!) and working with their teams using the requisite Post-its and flip charts. Read more about the video on the BPOC blog.

Project Team

Dana Mitroff Silvers
Dacia Faison-Roe