General

UX Week 2014 Blueprinting Workshop

by Andy Polaine on September 10, 2014

in General

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Hint: The future of air travel is not this

If you’re here, you were probably at my workshop on Developing Services with Service Blueprinting for UX Week 2014 or someone pointed you here.

By the end of the week, I’ll post my slides here, but for the moment, you can download the following: Update – The slides are here now too:

Some links

Brief: The future of air travel

From its early days of luxury for the few, air travel has become commonplace. Cheaper fares from low-budget airlines have made air travel as affordable as taking the train, sometimes more so. At the same time, security theatre and the complexity of multiple third-party services have made flying a series of irritations that lead to a frustrating experience. We rush from one stage to the next only to wait around for ages. We are sold poor quality food at high prices and directed through duty-free shopping malls to appease our boredom and encourage us to consume. Airports have lost any sense of adventure and engaging experience they once had. As fuel prices will inevitably rise, it is clear that the days of budget air travel are numbered. What happens then?

You brief is simple: reinvent the experience of air travel for 2030. This is just 16 years from now, so no flying cars or Star Trek transporters, but enough time for innovations in communications and customer experiences, as well as the reduction of resource consumption, to become the norm.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What kind of experience should your service be? Start there and focus on a couple of key touchpoints to begin with. Then expand outwards.
  • What are the highs and lows of air travel? Where are the cracks between the different elements of the services?
  • How could transitions between stages and across channels be improved or reinvented?
  • What elements are considered the norm but could be reimagined?
  • What kind of experiences, services or paradigms could you borrow from another sector and apply here (e.g., what would be the IKEA or the Airbnb of air travel?)

The brief itself is really just a vehicle for you to get your minds around service design blueprinting and to use some of the methods, but it is much easier to learn this by doing rather than by just hearing about it.

Here is what would be good to try and achieve today:

  1. Some quick and dirty insights research (go out and speak to people, use your social networks).
  2. The logline. A one line headline and a brief introductory description of what your concept is.
  3. Create a service blueprint that details how people may use the service across relevant channels and touchpoints. What backstage elements need to be in place?
  4. Visualise how the service might appear in key touchpoints as a storyboard or sequence of sketches
  5. Pitch the idea in a three-minute presentation

The short URL for this page is http://pln.me/uxweek14

Customer service experienced in bits

by Andy Polaine on July 21, 2014

in General

Dr Drang tells two stories of failed customer service. The first one involves him trying to assist his mother getting to the gate at the airport. I use flying a lot as an example of services involving silos that barely communicate with each other and generate terrible customer experiences as a result. Dr Drang’s experience is typical:

You will not be surprised to hear that the people at the ticket desk—both our initial agent and his superior—had no idea how to issue me a gate pass. Curiously, the agent did ask for my photo ID, even though he had no idea what to do with it. Force of habit, I guess. Eventually, the supervisor hit upon the idea of sending us to the Special Services desk, where we would become someone else’s problem.

The agent at the Special Services desk knew everything about gate passes and told me right away that I wouldn’t be able to get one. “They’re being very tight with those.”

When I explained to the agent that I’d been told by the airline that I could get a gate pass, she told me with great confidence that the people manning the airline’s 800 number didn’t know anything. But she took my driver’s license, typed my information into her computer, and my gate pass printed out immediately.

“Do you know which gate you’re going to?” she asked sharply as she handed it over.

“No, I haven’t checked yet. I wasn’t sure until just now that I was going to get in.”

“Well, it’s F6A. It’s right on the pass.” There was a note of triumph in her voice, as it was clear she had bested me.

None of these poor experiential moments is tragic on its own, but the aggregate experience is an awful one—something I often refer to as an experience crevasse that customers fall into. When you are at the bottom of one of those, nobody can hear you screaming for help.

When I work with teams to bring service design methods into their workflow, one of the common responses is, “but to do this properly we really need to change or organisation’s structure.” Culture and cultural change within an organisation is key to changing the end experiences of a service. If staff feel frustrated, bored or under pressure to act in a way detrimental to the customer experience, it should be no surprise that this experience is awful. Yet this is regularly demanded of staff under the guise of efficiency. Companies need to switch their focus from the industrial mode of efficiency to a service mindset of being effective. They’re not mutually exclusive, but the emphasis and process are very different.

Without that, customers end up treating the interaction as a battle. As Dr Drang writes at the end of his post:

Now I see my interactions with customer service as a sort of strategy game: can I plan my way around the obstacles the game will put in my way? Today I came out on top. Tomorrow is another round.

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February 21, 2014

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Services that fix services and the inverse experience umbrella

February 17, 2014

I often use air travel as the archetypal example of a multi-channel service that unfolds over time. Modern air travel consists of lots of minor annoyances that aggregate to a massive pain in the arse. When analysed individually, each of these annoyances can be dismissed as something not so bad that customers should be willing […]

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