Improving the customer experience in one day; that’s the challenge Daresay set attendees at the Learning by Doing: Service Design course that is hold on a regular basis in Stockholm.
The first thing you’ll notice when you show up for the Service Design course is the grouped layout of the table and chairs in the room. You won’t spend much time listening to presentations, it’s all about collaborating with your fellow attendees. After all, if you’re going to improve a customer experience in a day – time is of the essence.
After a quick introduction to service design it’s time to become acquainted with your collaborative team for the day (3-5 people is ideal as it ensures things move quickly). We sketched somebody across the table from us on a post-it without looking at them, a challenge that becomes impossibly difficult when you use your non-dominant hand. “This is a fun exercise, but it also serves the purpose of creating a level playing field among the team members,” says Johanna Pilgren, Daresay Designer. “We don’t just use this, or similar exercises on our one-day courses, we also use them at the start of a week-long Daresay Design Sprints – the big brother of this course.
With that done, we’re presented our challenge for the day: Improve the experience of travellers on SL, Stockholm’s public transport network – a somewhat maligned organization that transports over 1.3 million passengers per day. Since most of us travelled on public transport to get to the workshop and use it regularly, we all have an opinion on how the experience can be improved, but that’s not enough data. We need to talk to other SL customers and find out their opinions on the service. With a few tips on how to write value-adding questions and some interview technique advice, we jot down a few questions, pop on our coats, and head out into the Swedish winter to find public transport users and put our interviewing skills to the test. An hour later most of us are surprised how willing people are to answer our questions and we all return with new insights into how people travel around Stockholm. Now it’s time to break out the post-its – the service designer’s best friend.
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After a quick debrief within our individual groups we start to write down the different comments from the interviewees. That completed we put them on the wall and try to find categories that they can be grouped under. For our small team it was the problems faced by those who miss bus connection, poor timetable planning for commuters with connections, poor communications/accessibility at stations, and the costs of travel. Could we gleam a key insight to focus on from one or more of the categories? In the end we chose to focus on connections: How might we improve the experience for travellers that need to change bus or train on a journey?
With the key insight defined we each write down as many ideas as possible to improve the connection service for travellers. After a few minutes we’re thrown a curve ball and asked to ideate from a completely different angle. This time our group is told to imagine that the Disney Corporation were running public transport in Stockholm: How would they improve the customer experience within these categories? Finally, we’re asked to push our ideas even further – How would you get journalists from the international press interested in what Stockholm Transport is doing for customers? Each of the tasks is completed in 10 minutes including group discussion time – so the ideas have to flow fast.
“Experience the wait”
We’re then given about 15 minutes to walk through each idea and sketch a concept. With the afternoon drawing to a close we get to choose one idea and build a prototype of it. This is where we get to colour, paint, glue, build, write a play, you name it to bring our idea to life. In just 15 minutes our team creates “Experience the Wait” an entertainment area for people waiting for connections. Finally, there’s just enough time for each group to present their ideas and field a few questions. It’s been a creative day, where we have pushed ourselves in lots of different ways. The take-home; it’s a great way to learn new skills and challenge yourself. We all leave the workshop with smiles on our faces and new found inspiration.