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.

Talk & Workshops at UX Week 2014

by Andy Polaine on July 7, 2014

in Conference

UX Week

It has been a long time since I have been in San Francisco, so I am thrilled to have been invited to give a presentation and two workshops at Adaptive Path’s UX Week 2014 there in September.

My schedule is the following:

Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2014, 9:00AM
Workshop Abstract: Developing Services with Service Blueprinting | Day 2

Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014, 9:00AM
Workshop Abstract: Developing Services with Service Blueprinting | Day 3

Friday, Sep. 12, 2014, 10:00AM
Talk Abstract: Designing Multichannel Services for Lives Beyond the Screen

I have been asked a couple times about how much overlap there will be between my workshop and Chris Risdon’s Experience Mapping one and whether it is worth going to both. Chris and I have swapped notes already and will do so again nearer the time. We aim to make sure the two workshops dovetail into each other nicely and we will reference each other’s workshops. So the answer is, of course it’s worth going to both – they’ll make a great package together!

If you’re going to be coming along, please ping me a tweet and say hi. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the other speakers there and catching up with U.S. friends and contacts. I don’t get to go to the States nearly as often as I would like.

Interview at the 2014 Science-to-Business Marketing Conference

June 23, 2014

I gave a keynote a couple of weeks ago at the 2014 Science-to-Business Marketing Conference in Winterthur and Todd Davey interviewed me afterwards about service design, innovation, design thinking and higher education. My beard is looking a bit fluffy and I was squinting into the sun, but otherwise some of what I had to say […]

Read the full article →

Apple, Beats and wearable tech

June 5, 2014

All the speculation about Apple designing and iWatch and the noise about their acquisition of Beats got me wondering why we do not pay more attention to the tech we are already wearing and why some of it is socially acceptable and some not. There is a kind of inverse correlation between assistive technologies and […]

Read the full article →

Service Design in Japanese

May 14, 2014

I’m happy to announce that our book, Service Design: from insight to implementation has just been translated and published in Japanese by Maruzen publishing. Thanks to the translator, Yoshinori Wakizaka. If you speak Japanese, I’d love to know what you think of it and the translation. We hope this helps those working in and with […]

Read the full article →

Chris Risdon on Orchestrating Touchpoints

April 19, 2014

Whilst I’m at it, here’s a great talk by Chris Risdon from the same conference talking about orchestrating touchpoints. His anecdote at the beginning is priceless. I’m particularly interested in the way he takes the journey as the hub from which everything extends from. It’s service design, but he comes at it from a UX […]

Read the full article →

Dave Malouf on Storytelling and Interaction Design

April 19, 2014

I talk a lot about the importance of thinking about the story of your product or service. I have always assumed this has to do with my background of studying photography, film, video and interactive media-I originally wanted to be a film director—and my work as a writer. But the need and interest in story […]

Read the full article →

Collaborative long form writing – the story behind the book

March 19, 2014

A few people have asked me about the process of writing our book on service design given that the three of us are in different countries and all have different thoughts and styles of writing. I wrote a post on the Luzern MA Design site called Collaborative Long Form Writing that goes into the details. […]

Read the full article →

Smart companies trust people

March 4, 2014

I just backed David Hieatt’s upcoming book, Do Purpose on the crowd-funded publishing site, Unbound. David is a smart guy and a kind of serial entrepreneur. The book explores companies that focus on their purpose. Here’s an excerpt: Most companies don’t have a purpose. This may sound odd but most people have forgotten why they […]

Read the full article →

Mentalism for service delivery?

February 24, 2014

I hope I have left enough time between the broadcast of Series 3 of Sherlock, but just in case you are waiting to binge view, the following contains mild spoilers. (You do know he isn’t dead though, right? Otherwise Series 3 would be called Watson). Sherlock Series 3 involves Sherlock returning from his overseas sojourn […]

Read the full article →