Experience design fail

Going through security at the airports is probably one of the most unpleasant things connected with flying (topped only by discovery that you have a middle seat between a screaming baby and a grumpy elder). That’s probably because the process of going through security check was never really considered from the point of view of those who have to go through it — humans. The situation was designed from the security point of view: how to minimize chances that someone is going to smuggle something on the plane that can cause considerable damage to others? This is a valid POV, but so is the human-centered one. They are also not exclusive. That is to say, if the situation has been designed with the focus on human experience, rather than just on design of service, we would be able to achieve both.

A recent Fast Company article detailed a quite nice idea by two SVA students on how to make the airport security experience more pleasant to those who have to grow though it. I enjoyed the article, but I couldn’t help thinking that improving the experience can’t involve only creating a more human messaging and gestures aimed to shift passangers’ perceptions. This is a short-term, superficial gain aimed at changing the image of TSA rather than the experience it provides. It doesn’t solve the problem that security process truly lacks is empathy and the holistic view of the situation (otherwise known as design thinking).

As of today, only humans can provide this empathy and a holistic, experience-focused understanding. To change security experience, it is the behavior of security employees that needs to change. A mindset ofprotection, respect and caring would be nice, for starters. Flexibility and empathy would help a lot, too. Considering the entire experience through passangers eyes would seal the deal.

Security employees are in the experience business. For them be successful, the premise needs to become their delivering a superior customer experience. This scenario doesn’t seem terribly realistic right this moment, but at least it’s a possibility.