Researching-the-airport-of-the-future--An-interview-with-Ben-Kraal

Researching the airport of the future: An interview with Ben Kraal

Gerry Gaffney Service design Leave a Comment

Download (mp3: 20.3MB, 42.23) Ben Kraal talks to Gerry Gaffney about conducting research for the Airport Of The Future, about frames and mental models, and about how services are co-created.


Image: Airport icon designed by Wilson Joseph from The Noun Project, Creative Commons – Attribution (CC BY 3.0).

Transcript

Gerry Gaffney:

This is Gerry Gaffney with the User Experience podcast.

Regular listeners will know that transport has been a recurring theme from time to time, but we haven’t done airports yet. However, my guest today is quite the expert, I think.

He’s a research fellow with the People and Systems Lab at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia.

I first saw him present several years ago when his PhD was concerned with speech recognition in the workplace, and that was a fascinating project.

He’s a design researcher and he says his expertise is in conducting studies of people doing stuff with things, or things with stuff, which is nicely ambiguous.

Ben Kraal, I’m very pleased to welcome you to the User Experience Podcast.

Ben Kraal:

Thanks, Gerry, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Gerry:

Can you start by telling us why you’ve been hanging around in airports?

Ben:

Sure. My colleagues and I are working on a very large project that’s called Airports of the Future. It’s an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded linkage grant, which means that in addition to being funded by the ARC, which is basically the federal government, we have matched funding from a whole bunch of industry partners. And in the case of Airports of the Future that’s most of the very big airports in Australia, a bunch of little regional airports, and more government and associated stakeholders than you can poke a stick at.

Gerry:

And what’s the fundamental purpose of the Airports of the Future project?

Ben:

Our bit is actually one seventh of the whole project. The whole project is supposed to take a complex systems view of how airports might work in the future. And so in addition to my colleagues and I, who are nominally designers, we have people from Engineering doing things about machine vision and activity recognition from security camera footage. We have people from the Business school looking at how airports deal with risk and continuity planning. People from the Information Systems school looking at things like business process modelling and how to get generalisable models that you can interrogate so that airports can benchmark themselves better. Our part is looking at passenger experience and what we call human systems – how people use airports, both passengers and staff. It’s all brought together by some people from the School of Mathematics here at QUT who do what’s called complex systems modelling. They use Bayesian networks and a bunch of other sophisticated mathematical tools to integrate all the different things that we do to get models that they can use to plan and reflect on data that the airports might generate.

Gerry:

When you presented at UX Australia last year you spoke about the usefulness of frames when thinking about service design or when conducting user research. Can you tell us a little bit about frames and why they’re useful?

Ben:

Sure. My background is computer science and sociology, and one reason I use the word frames is that I get in less trouble than if I use the word mental models. What I’m more interested in doing is getting at the idea that there are shared understandings that people have of things, whether that’s how Lotus Notes works or how airport security works or how to order at McDonalds. And frames is a better way of conveying that idea.

I say “frames” and someone else wants to say mental models to mean exactly the same thing, that’s OK. Because until you start getting way deep into the sociological literature, and they talk about frames, or way deep into the psychology literature and they talk about mental models, you mean basically the same thing.

Gerry:

Although I really do that that what you’re saying there about frames being a sort of shared understanding as opposed to mental model being in one person’s head is kind of key, isn’t it?

Ben:

Yeah. That way of phrasing it I got from a paper by a organisational researcher called Wanda Orlikoswky. She has a paper called “Technological Frames” which is easily Googleable and widely available – it’s not locked behind a paywall, or you can find PDFs that people have released from the paywall. And that’s about people understood Lotus Notes when it was being introduced to a big organisation she was studying. She said that the tech support staff had one way that they understood it, and the secretarial staff had another way that they understood it, and management had another way that they understood it. She went further and made the argument that the way all these different groups of people understood it didn’t just exist in their own heads, but it was shared between them in some way.

And I think that’s what I’m trying to get at when I talk about frames rather than mental models – the way we understand airport security is kind of a shared thing that everyone has. In some ways it’s sort of tacit, so that you know what to do when you go to airport security, but you’ve never actually sat down and had someone explain it to you. And I think that’s an example of a shared frame.

Gerry:

It’s an interesting word, isn’t it, because it could be frame in the sense of frame-work or it could be frame in the sense of the rectangular device to which we look at something.

Ben:

Yes. Sometimes I think they mean it both ways. It’s one of those… That’s how you know it’s a sociological term because it’s a bit punny. [Laughter.]

Gerry:

OK, to come to something a little bit more hands-on. How on earth to airport authorities balance the elements that seem to be inherently at odds? There’s the need for security as opposed to the desire for convenience and speed.

Ben:

I think they do it as best as they can, because the environment that they’re working in is constantly changing, depending on when flights are schedules. An airport can be absolutely packed and then two hours later when all those flights have left it can just be like a ghost town until the next lot of flights come in to fit with international schedule. All airports work to a whole bunch of different benchmarks that varying professional bodies have set up and these things are to do with wait times and amount of floor area per expected passenger and a bunch of things like that. And they do a lot of; the airports we work with do a lot of their own research to know whether they’re meeting those KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). And then because airports aren’t one entity, they’re’ a whole bunch of entities that work together under the umbrella of an airport – airlines and security providers and customer service and even all the shops work together to produce the data so that everybody knows whether they’re working effectively.

Gerry:

I know you guys on your project spent time observing people from kerbside right through to the aircraft… And you talked about the activities that people carry out as being a mixture of processing and discretionary activities. I don’t know if I was correct in thinking this, but it reminded me of Ikea, who’ve recently started putting the shortcut arrows around the place to facilitated alternative pathways for people who don’t want to follow the big arrows. Should airports be facilitating alternatives or trying to force all passengers to follow the big arrows?

Ben:

Airports are first of all concerned with getting you on the plane while meeting all the requirements of the government to ensure you’re allowed to get on a plane. Because most of what we do is with international airports we’re looking at are you allowed to leave the country, do you have permission to leave the country, are you allowed to get on the plane, do you have permission to get on the plane… So when we talk about processing and discretionary activities, processing activities are all those things you have to do to ensure that you are the right person to get on the right plane. So check-in, security, customs and boarding. Everything else is a discretionary activity. So between check-in and security in most international airports you can go shopping. Or you can just sit down and wait because you don’t go immediately go from check-in to the security space.

In most Australian airports outbound security and passport control are quite closely coupled so they’re no discretionary activities in between those, and then after you pass through passport control and you’re allowed to leave the country, then you can do more discretionary activities. Sometimes we even talk about discretionary activities that are necessary and discretionary activities that are… you do them for the sake of doing them. Sometimes a discretionary activity might be [that] you have to get currency for the country you’re going to at some point, and it’s undefined as to exactly where you would do that but you’ve decided you must do this so that’s a necessary discretional activity. But a pleasurable discretionary activity might be sitting down for a coffee or browsing the bookshop or buying an expensive merino scarf, something like that. Those are the two things, so the processing activities you can’t skip in an airport. You have to check in, you must pass through security, you must see customers and get their permission to leave the country, and you must again have the airline confirm that you paid for the ticket and that you are the person who holds this ticket and you can get on this plane. Everything else is discretionary.

And the airports don’t really mind whether you go shopping before or after security, they don’t mind where you get your foreign currency from, they don’t even mind if you buy duty-free or not. Although they’d really like you to. [Laughs.]

Gerry:

Yes, they’re pretty efficient at extracting money from people. I remember William Gibson in one of his earlier books had a description of an orbital facility, and he described it as a sieve where you’d pour tourists in one end and they would fall out at the other end but without all their money.

Ben:

Yes. Airports are getting increasingly squeezed by global financial situations and the biggest source of income is from gate fees, from letting airlines land at gates and getting people onto planes. Their third biggest source of income is shopping, buying food or sitting down for a coffee or something. And their second biggest sources of income is parking. And I know public transport is one of your passions and interests. I don’t know a lot about how parking works at airports because we confine ourselves to the terminal building.

But that’s generally a rule, all over the world, that parking is expensive at airports and it’s a large source of their income. But I think as public transport becomes more important, and especially as airports become more concerned about their carbon footprint of everything they do, they’re going to start being incentivised to encourage people not to drive to the airport. There’s an airport in Sweden that is very proud of their very small carbon footprint. And they have amazing public transport links into the airport.

For our research we had to draw a boundary somewhere and we currently confine ourselves to the terminal. It would be interesting to extend the airport experience way beyond… way into the past and into the future, after you’ve actually been to the terminal building, but that’s… we need an edge, and that’s the edge we’ve chosen.

Gerry:

Sure. Is air travel public transport?

Ben:

In my notes, I’ve got the worst features of public and private transport. It’s fantastically expensive and it relies on government subsidies to make it work, like private transport does, and then it’s extremely highly regulated and… it always seems too expensive, like public transport.

Gerry:

John Kasarda’s done some very interesting stuff and in the book Aerotropolis he talks about the changing roles of airport, just what you’ve been talking about in terms of carbon footprint and so on, but he says that we tend to build airports that are far away from the city… because theoretically they are undesirable as neighbours and then everybody moves there because in fact economically they’re extremely desirable, and then the city accretes around the position of the airport has. I guess it would be interesting if you could move out side that boundary, but I’m side-tracking you here.

Ben:

That’s all right. QUT, not my group, but QUT just finished a very big project about that sort of Aerotropolis idea. There were a lot of economists on that project, and planners and people who were thinking about how do airports relate to cities, and things like that.

Gerry:

And you certainly get, I guess, a vision of it when you see things like the prices of hard drives going up so much because of the recent floods in Thailand, when you realise we have this hugely connected set of air routes, that when one falls over… they’re all connected so much.

Ben:

Yeah. Even to the extent of, when we talk to airports about how they think about getting people through the airport, one of their biggest problems is stuff that happens with regard to transport before the airport. So in Brisbane two years ago, they were still fixing all the roads into the airport, you’d bet these amazing traffic jams at this very large roundabouts that they’d put traffic lights on – I don’t know why – which would completely ruin any kind of planning the airport had done or that any of the stakeholders in the airport had done for capacity. So they’d be expecting a very large number of people to arrive at the airport at half-past-seven on Tuesday morning, and then there’d be some kind of traffic disaster and no-one would be at the airport Tuesday morning, everyone was stuck in traffic at this roundabout that was 10km from the airport. And then suddenly not only would everyone they’d been expecting at 7:30 show up, but everyone they’d also been expecting at 8:30 and 9 o’clock would show up, which would completely overwhelm the whole situation.

And what they were really interested in doing, what I guess a lot of airports have tried to start doing is getting access to more situational context outside of their control to understand what’s going to happen next within their control. If you knew there was a traffic disaster, you could anticipate a much larger flood of people coming into the airport who suddenly have to get through in half the amount of time they would have planned to. That kind of think is why we need our complex system modelling colleagues, because the way we do research is we just follow people around and ask them questions, and the mathematicians can help us take that data and turn it into some sort of model that we can interrogate. We can say, if this happens, what else is going to happen next?

Gerry:

When you were describing, and I haven’t written this down as one of the things we wanted to discuss, so it’s a bit of question without notice, but when you were talking about the work that you did you talked about people switching modes between – I can’t remember the terms you used – but switching modes between being groups and being individuals. Can you tell us a bit about that? I found that fascinating.

Ben:

Sure. This is the most recently published finding that we had, so I can go into detail about it. Some of my colleagues who are studying for the PhDs just sent a whole bunch of papers away to a conference but academic convention is we don’t talk about that until it’s been accepted. [Laughter.] Interesting stuff, though. The thing about individuals and groups came about from our first foray into following people around the airport. We followed them from kerbside to check-in, we’d just accost them as they walked into the airport and say “Do you mind if we video you for the next two hours?” And when we looked at that data, we’d go through it and find themes that we could see and the activities that people were doing. And stuff that started to come out was there are four different levels of activity that people do, or four different things that happen that influence everything else. So there’s things that you do as an individual, there’s things that you do as a group if you’re in a group, and by a group we mean two or more people; and there are things that you can do as an individual to serve the needs of a group. Depending on the size of the group, different things happen to you, but as an individual… security at the airport is set up to deal with you as an individual, so you can’t really go through as a group. But the problem is, groups of people like staying together, and so you arrive at security as a group, and you get through and you have to turn yourselves into individuals to get through and security will deal with you as individuals. And then once the first of you is through security, you’ll wait for everybody else to come through to stay together as a group before you move on to the next thing.

And that causes problems for airports, because they don’t like groups of people congregating anywhere, because it’s a security risk. And so the thing that we were able to argue was that only expecting people to be individuals in the airport causes you problems when people don’t act only as individuals. And that’s as far as we’ve gotten with that in a way that I can say anything about. But what that lets us do is then interrogate different situations that are or aren’t working in the airport. You can say, “Well why is there a problem here?” And does our taxonomy of individual and group and things that you do to serve the group – does that help us understand these in a different way so we can say “Actually, this is what’s happening here.”

We don’t do a lot with the arrivals part of airports, because it’s really hard to get access to arrivals because it’s all controlled by Australian customs, and they don’t like anyone taking pictures in areas that they control. And that’s how we like to collect data, is to take video.

But one of the most problematic areas in arrivals is baggage collection and we go and stand and watch – we haven’t done this enough to get something that is actionable, but the more we stand and watch the more we start getting the sense that there’s stuff happening that is about groups and there’s stuff happening that’s about individuals, and it’s the way that it’s set up to not deal with groups of people is possibly why there’s a problem. And… I’m not sure about that…

Gerry:

Well, yeah, I think it is interesting because if a few people come off the plane that were together there’s no connection between their luggage as it comes out.

Ben:

Well there might be. If I was travelling with my wife and kids we’d have fewer bags… our individual stuff would all be mixed in together. But you can even get groups that don’t know that they’re groups. You get a bunch of people off the plane and they’ll all go through together and they’ll all suddenly pounce on the carousel. And that great blog Humans In Design had a great blog recently about why is this such a problem and if people would stand back from the carousel there’d be more space, they could go in and pick up their luggage and then move out of the way again.

Part of the problem is you get a group of people, just a whole bunch of people, hit the carousel, and then one person stops and everyone else in the group goes “Oh this must be where we stop”. Which is fine for the first 20 people out of inbound customs, but then you get the next 20, 30, 50, 100 people and you get these bottlenecks. “Why don’t you all just move further into the space?” And there are reasons why people don’t do that.

Gerry:

One of the things you talked about, Ben, also, was about services being co-created. What do you mean by that, and how does it occur in the context of an airport?

Ben:

This is a minor obsession of mine about how services work, because when I read in the, not the service design literature but the service management literature they talk about services being co-created. And the service-dominant logic, Steve Vargo and [Robert] Lusch talk about co-creation of services when the service is delivered. They mean that you have to cooperate, the customer and the service provider have to cooperate to actually make the service work. That’s co-creation of services. There’s also co-design of services, which is where you get together with customers before you make the new service. So co-design happens before the service gets enacted, and co-creation happens when the service is enacted, and happens each time there’s a service encounter. Every time you order fries and a Coke at McDonalds that is the service being co-created between you and the bored 14-year-old across the counter. And in the service management literature, I think they often assume they’re talking about business-to-business services. So, you know, BlueScope selling millions of dollars worth of steel to a manufacturing plant.

But at the level of individual business-to-customer sort of stuff, this is where it comes back to frames again, because if you don’t understand the script in your head for what this service is like is different to the script in the service provider’s head, then you end up not being able to co-create the service, or you have to do work while that’s happening to make it possible to co-create the service. And then you get another problem where the picture in your head is different to the picture in the [head of the person] planning the service, which might actually be different to the way a service was designed, and the way that the artefacts of the service let the service be enacted. And so that’s when you go and you have some kind of failure.

When we talk to airports they tell us that something they’re really interested in is communicating with passengers and way-finding. And at the moment I think some of their problem is that people ask them where the toilets are. And to an extent you can fix that, sure, with better way-finding or signage or environmental design. But I worked in service jobs before doing public-facing tech support, and people asked me where the toilets were. It’s just a question people have. [Laughs.]

So I think you can’t engineer that out of any kind of service encounter.

Gerry:

How would you summarise, Ben, the key findings from your work in what is inherently a service design environment – I know it’s a bit of a tricky question.

Ben:

I don’t think what we do is service design. I think service design is about making new services, and that’s fine. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be about that; that’s what it’s about. What my colleagues and I are doing is I think what people would call customer experience. But I think we’re trying to push past the idea that there is a customer experience, and trying to figure out how experience happens in service encounters, and the ways that different experiences happen in what is ostensibly the same service. One of my colleagues has got 600 hours of people going through airports. We code that in different ways, and we chart it and diagram it and things like that, and none of these things looks the same, everyone has a different experience. Everyone does different things, within the bounds of what’s possible, does discretionary activities in a different order, takes different amounts of time to do things, and so I think I would be most interested in saying – because we’ve still got three years to go on this project – that where we’re up to at the moment is the idea that there is no one passenger experience in airports. There are multiple passenger experiences, and those experiences are shaped by the service provided, the physical layout of the airport, the artefacts of the service – things like tickets and rules and things like that about how to do security or how to do passport control or whatever – and the people that you’re with.

One of the papers that I said I wouldn’t talk about because I said it was just sent off for review, we see very definite differences in how people “do” being in the airport, based on whether they are with other people they are flying with in a group, whether they’re by themselves, or whether they’ve got people come to the airport to see them off who they’re not travelling with. And in some sense that’s kind of obvious, of course that’s different. But that it’s different, and that we can show it’s different empirically is important, because we can then say well, if this is demonstrably different, why are parts of the airport that people use differently designed in so much the same way? Why are the shops before and after security the same, when we can show that people use them differently? Or why is the space configured in such the same way? Whether it’s for sitting with people saying goodbye to you or whether it’s for sitting with people who you’re travelling with, and you’ve all got bags, or things like that. So I think we’re still exploring what this means, but what we’re trying to show is that the way that people use airports is much richer than it has been understood in the past.

Gerry:

I was just thinking about the way people use shops on either side of security. Some airports of course don’t have any shops once you go through security, but it’s almost like there’s an information paywall or something that before security you don’t know what’s after it.

Ben:

Yeah. That’s the other thing. LAX is like that when you’re travelling internationally. You get through security, if you’re travelling from LA back to Australia, and you’ve got the choice of a pub or a fancier pub and a Starbucks, and a couple of newsagents. And that’s about it, to spend three hours in. Everyone gets on their Qantas flight home two sheets to the wind. [Laughter.] Because all you’ve been able to do is drink and look at magazines.

We haven’t yet been able to turn our research insights into practical things for airports to do, in the sense of that higher-level mode of individuals and groups and how people understand shops and things like that. When we’ve done little engagement activities that we’re contractually obliged to do as part of the linkage, which are shorter, sharper things where we’re not looking to develop theory, but to answer a question that one of the partners has, then we’ve been able to make big impacts on processing time or quality of experience in different situations.

Gerry:

What sort of things have you done that have had a big impact?

Ben:

One of the first things we did was look at how the queue forms at security, and when the queue forms, in terms of going from no people there to having a queue of people there. And the thing that we were able to say was that the queue forms not only because it takes time to unpack your gear and put it in the plastic tray and send it through the X-ray machine, but because you have to wait, you have to ask a question, especially internationally with the liquids, aerosols and gasses rule. “Do I need to take this out? Is this something that you are going to confiscate? Can I keep this in my bag, or does it need to be out of my bag?” If you’re the first person that’s fine, there’s no-one behind you. But if you’re the second or third person you have to wait not only for those in front of you… not only to unpack but to also ask the question, and it’s the asking the question that takes time. So the thing that we said was that you need to de-couple those two things. You need to de-couple unpacking and asking, “Do I need to take my laptop out? Does an iPad count as a laptop?” And that’s as far as we went with our recommendation because all the different airports have different budgets and priorities about what they can and can’t do and different space they can do things in. And when airports have taken that on board and said, “Actually we can see that that makes sense and we will try it out,” they’ve gotten big gains in the processing times at security. They can do their busiest day with a regular number of queues open, because they de-couple that thing that causes the bottleneck.

Gerry:

You must have been amused watching that George Clooney movie – was it Up In The Air?

Ben:

That’s a great movie…

Gerry:

Where he, I’m sure it’s politically incorrect, but he advises his sidekick to get in line behind the Asian people, I think because…

Ben:

They have slip-on shoes and they pack light.

Gerry:

That’s right. [Laughter.]

Ben:

When we take new PhD students on… I don’t like calling them PhD students because they are actually productive researchers. They’re studying for their PhD. We take them on and they have to learn how to do data collection in the airport, and send them out with the more experienced people. The first thing they learn is when you go to the airport we take notepads and consent forms and still cameras and video cameras and we have to get all that through security multiple times a day. And you very quickly learn that everything goes in your bag. And you need a bag that you can open up and you know exactly where everything is so that you can take the things out that they want you to have out and you put the things back in that they want you to have back in. And so when we all travel to the airport together if we’re going to a conference or we’re going to visit a partner who’s not in Brisbane we all breeze through security, because we all have airport shoes, and airport belts, and things like that.

And I think that kind of experience is something that a lot of people don’t have. Apparently when the low-cost carriers started serving in Australia, when Virgin first opened up, they’d have trouble at domestic airports because people would show up expecting it to be like catching an interstate bus, and they would show up with their little esky [cooler], with a couple of beers and a sandwich and a pillow, and they wouldn’t be allowed to take their beers and their esky through security, and people were getting very irate. “What do you mean I can’t take my beer on the plane?” Because they had a different picture in their head about what this thing was like.

So the George Clooney thing about – quick, get in behind them, they can deal with security more effectively so you won’t be held up – that way of understanding a service is really interesting. How do you understand what this is? There was a… it was in the New York Times… I think it was on the 99 percent invisible podcast, they were talking about banks in America. A chain of banks had bought a chain of cheque cashing stores, which had often been seem as dodgy and taking advantage of poor people. And they said to the CEO of this chain of retail banks, why did you buy a cheque cashing stores? And he said, “We can’t get people who are served by cheque cashing stores into our branches. And so we wanted to know why they would go to a cheque cashing store that takes 10% of their pay cheque every week rather than coming into a bank and just depositing their cheque.” And it turned out that people didn’t know how to deal with a bank. Because if you go into a bank it has plush carpet and marble counters, and people sitting behind glass and it doesn’t tell you what to do. You go into a cheque cashing store and it’s like McDonalds. It’s got a lino floor and a big menu behind the guy with the cash drawer that says; “If you have a cheque for $1,000 we will give you $900, if you have a cheque for $2,000 we will give you $1,800.” It’s easy to understand. And they went even further, and they talked to a guy in this podcast and said why did you go to a cheque cashing store and not the bank and he says, “Well, I work construction and I feel bad about walking into the bank and stomping on their fancy carpet in my work boots.”

That’s really weird, that people find a bank hard to understand, and the next time I went into a bank – and who goes into banks anyway? [Laughter.] If you walk into a bank it’s a really weird place, there’s no real way to know what’s going on. Because even their advertising is designed to make you feel good about this bank. They will very rarely advertise, you know, big banner ads about, “Come to us, our rate is cheaper. We’ll look after you”. Oh, is this a doctor’s office, is it come kind of health care clinic? What happens in this place? And to an extent it happens in airports, because if you’ve never travelled internationally before, you’re not really sure about what to do, because it’s a big open space you walk into, and you have to figure out, you have to find on the big board which check-in row to go to and then whether or not you can go into this part of the queue or that part of the queue. They’re splitting it by business class and first class and economy class and things like that. And then, where do you go next? There is no big arrow saying, “Now go to security.” Oftentimes they want you to have a Gruen transfer – in the shopping centre sense – experience of going wandering about rather than going straight through security.

So, yeah, airports are weird spaces.

Gerry:

It’s funny you talk about banks. I had some communication with Darren Chew from NAB today – NAB bank here in Australia – and he was saying they’ve had some of their UX people doing design for some of the new branches so it will be interesting to see what they’re like, when they open.

I guess, Ben, one of the things that’s fair to say is that you guys have the luxury of having access to both time and money for the fascinating project you’re working on…

Ben:

Oh! More time than money… [Laughter.]

Gerry:

Well, OK, you’ve got lots of time. But for practitioners who are working on what we might broadly call service design, or customer experience design, do you have any tips that you’ve gathered from this particular activity or tips that you’ve gathered in general, I guess, for service design people?

Ben:

Sure. We take way more data than anyone in commercial practice would consider appropriate, because we have the luxury of time and because we’re looking to build theory as well as solve problems, and so we need that amount of data to satisfy colleagues who would review our work that we did this rigorously, that there’s no holes in what we’ve done. I would guess, after you’ve done a couple of end-to-end observations of something, Jakob Nielsen has the numbers on this, but after you’ve done five things you’ve probably seen 85%, 90% of the things you’re going to see. If you do a couple of end-to-end observations, and then you would find the pain points, to use the service design jargon, I would then spend time at those places, and try and see, well, is this thing we think is a pain point actually a pain point, or is that just an artefact of the couple that we saw, and the one or two people we saw had trouble here but no-one else seems to be having trouble, so let’s go somewhere else.

And again, I would only do a few, because if I was constrained for time and money I would only do a few observations at each of those places to see, is this thing that I think is a problem really a problem or is it just one person had a problem here and maybe they don’t understand the script, which is its own problem, or maybe there is some sort of service failure that’s a larger problem that needs to be dealt with. I think that’s what I would say.

Gerry:

Ben Kraal, thanks for joining me today on the User Experience podcast.

Ben:

Thanks so much, Gerry. It’s been a pleasure.

Published: January 2012

A note on the transcripts

We make verbatim transcripts of the User Experience podcast. We then edit the transcripts to remove speech-specific elements that interfere with meaning in print (primarily space-fillers such as “you know…”, “um…”).

Gerry GaffneyResearching the airport of the future: An interview with Ben Kraal

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