In-Flight
Experience

Intro

I worked on this project during my tenure @DesignLab, TCS. The client was an airline company who was collaborating with the team as a part of Digital Reimagination Initiative.

Project 

The project started with the customer proposal to redesign their current infotainment system, referring to their decreasing passenger satisfaction index, especially for ultra long flight journeys ie: 15+ hours with connections. 

My Role

I led this design engagement from ideation to implementation. The design team consisted of 4 members including me. I played various roles during this engagement which includes the following: Design Strategist, User Researcher, Interaction Designer, Visual Designer( moderations only). I also collaborated with the product manager and engineering team during this engagement. 

Redesigning In-flight Experience for Ultra Long flight Journeys

Goals of the Customer

The customer was mainly concerned about the decrease in customer satisfaction index (CSI) with the emergence of new competitors in the market. CSI was measured based on the data collected from passengers through surveys and customer care feedbacks. Repeated mentions of "infotainment system" and "in-flight experience" in the passenger feedback motivated the customer to identify the current in-flight experience and especially the infotainment system to be the main contributing factor behind this decline.

Their primary goal was to increase their customer's satisfaction by retaining a higher customer satisfaction index (CSI). Towards that goal, their secondary goal was to improve their current in-flight experience by redesigning a better infotainment system. 

Goals of the Designer

This engagement was a typical scenario where a customer approaches you with a problem and a possible solution in hand. As a design team, it is our responsibility to ensure we are in the right direction.
Our first task was to evaluate if the problem is real and the suggested design solution is the right approach towards solving the problem in hand. Our intent was to understand if design goals were aligned with respect to the customer's business goal, ie:
  1. Will redesigning in-flight experience improve customer satisfaction or not?
  2. How to measure the problem in hand and how to define success?

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” ― H. James Harrington

Discovery Phase

In this phase, we tried to solve for the lack of knowledge. We adopted generative research methodologies like stakeholder interviews and document analysis to get to know our customer and keep us informed various processes involved around in-flight experience
Outcome: 
  • Validated our general assumptions and learned background about passengers to formulate better questions.
  •  Understood organizational priorities, feasibilities, and workflow with respect to the services involved in our use case.
  • Generated relevant airline domain specific language and vocabulary.

User Interviews

The initial discovery phase generated relevant inputs to plan and structure the interviews well. This study was an evaluative approach towards measuring the passenger's degree of satisfaction and its relationship with the current infotainment system and other in-flight services.   

Users: Targets Users were screened based on the feeds back and reviews received by the company. 

Interview Structure: Funnel model was adopted starting with general subjective questions asking reasons, instances or examples for the lower rating of flight experience followed by specific questions on their in-flight and infotainment system. 

Outcome

  • The study reconfirmed that passengers were not satisfied with their previous flying experience and that has resulted in lower customer satisfaction.
  • The study reported that the current infotainment system is limited in supporting all the user goals with respect to the in-flight experience.
  • The study also reported that the overall passenger experience is not a sole reflection of the in-flight experience. It also depends on pre-flight and post-flight experience.

Research Question: Will redesigning in-flight experience improve customer satisfaction or not?

NO. Passenger experience is equally linked to all the three stages of the journey: Pre-flight, In-flight, Post-Flight.

How to keep passengers satisfied across all three stages?

 

User Interviews Phase 2

Based on the insights obtained from previous interviews we strategized another set of interviews to evaluate all the three identified stages of the passenger journey.  The goal was to complement the previous study by discovering all the passenger pain points involved in these three stages.    

Users: There were two sets of target users: Infrequent Flyers, Frequent Flyers. We choose to screen users from passengers who have completed trips recently as their ability to recollect specific instances and example seemed to diminish during the course of time.

Interview Structure: A Semistructured model was adopted with questions specific to each of the three phases. There was a mix of both subjective and objective questions. 

Outcome

  • Identified Goals passenger want to achieve during their user journey through the three stages.
  • Identified Tasks they perform to achieve these goals.
  • Measure the user experience of these tasks based on quantitative and qualitative KPI's.
" Based on the user interviews and research inputs an attempt was made to map the entire experience of the user throughout the journey"

Identifying User Goals 

Based on the interview data and affinity mapping we generated specific user goals under each stage. 

Measuring User Experience

Each task under the user goal is measured based on time, task completion and user satisfaction. We calculated a severity score based on the inputs we obtained. And based on the severity and the feasibility we generated design opportunities. 

Outcome: 

  1. Time was a major factor than success: Tasks which took more time and failed contributed towards lower satisfaction.
  2.  Tasks that failed after repeated attempts and tasks that required users to access multiple platforms and services were also crucial.
  3. Measured the problem based on the KPI's and generated a severity score.
  4. Based on the severity score design opportunities were identified.
Using this method all the tasks with high severity were identified and converted as a design opportunity.
Disconnected Services

This is one of the crucial pain point faced by the user. Most of the tasks were performed with the aid of multiple platforms and services. Because of the disconnected nature of the services, there were data redundancy issues. for ex: "User has to provide all the journey details to authenticate his identity every time he connects to customer care". Here is a break down of the Pre-flight experience.

 

Design opportunity

Pre-flying experience should be available to users from the day he books his ticket till he boards his flight. A great pre-flying experience will directly impact the In-flight experience of the passenger. It is very important to maintain that experience post arrival until the passenger exits the airport thereby providing a seamless experience.

A long flight journey extends from 8 to 20 hours depending on the connection delay and flying hours.80% of the time will be spent over flight passenger seats. The only way to provide an in-flight experience will be to make it accessible while sitting which can be achieved through tablet application placed in front of the user.

To address the design opportunities we identified an actionable and feasible solution which is a companion mobile app which delivers Pre-flying and post-flying experiences to the passengers. Similarly to accommodate in-flight experience there will be an iPad application designed. 

Information architecture

Mobile application

 

Sketches

We started the design process with low fidelity sketches. This is the way we iterate through many design options quickly. 

Goal

  • The main purpose of sketches was to rapidly generate UI solutions, brainstorm and iterate on the same.
  • Three versions of the sketches were made and we choose to go with the final version.

Wireframes

Low fidelity

High fidelity

 

02 

Applications

+20% 

Customer Satisfaction

"Antony's work at in-flight experience project was highly impressive as it clearly reflected a professional UX designer in him. He took the courage to state that an infotainment system alone will not suffice to mitigate the passenger's pain points. Instead, he suggested a service level design where he placed two connected applications mobile and an infotainment system to cover the whole user journey."  - Head of DesignLab, TCS