Service Redesign In Action: Lufthansa and IDEO

Based on a video of a presentation by Barbara Franz (IDEO) and Dorothea von Boxberg (Lufthansa) at the KISD conference, 06/2015, link here.

Lufthansa wanted to redesign their onboard service design, which hadn’t changed in 15 years.

  • The team at Lufthansa first got executives to sign off an a very specific goal: to become the first 5-star airline, which gave them great latitude
  • Lufthansa has 1800 flight attendants
  • IDEO needed to shift attendants’ vision of their function from transportation to hospitality
  • Barbara from IDEO flew a route as a flight attendant to experience the job first-hand
  • IDEO also interviewed many flight attendants
  • IDEO positioned themselves as co-creating the careers with the attendants, and by actually flying and servicing guests, IDEO got more buy-in from the attendants
  • They worked with every stakeholder throughout the company, from catering to the CEO
  • They built a full-size mockup of a plane interior in the attic so they could physically experience design iterations
  • IDEO took 500 passengers through a full, 4-hour service in Lufthansa’s mockup—70-90 passengers at a time plus real crews
  • About 300 attendants participated both as attendants and as fliers. This greatly helped to socialize the final design changes since so many attendants had participated in the process
  • IDEO had to change Lufthansa’s internal definition of prototyping from validation of a final design, to prototyping as a way to iterate continually on the design
  • IDEO looked first at the galley, which is the hub of the service experience. They knew they had to adhere to weight limitations strictly, so anything that got added meant something else had to be removed
  • IDEO replaced the traditional trolley with meals directly delivered from the galley to the passenger
    • This idea got great resistance from the stakeholders initially, who thought it would be chaotic and unpleasant for passengers
    • Passengers greatly preferred the new service style and the fact it removed the problem of not being able to get past the trolley
    • It made more work for attendants, but customers so clearly preferred it that the attendants were willing to make the switch, with some customers in the mockups actually hugging their attendant!
  • IDEO really listened to feedback from the attendants on whether or not to implement different ideas based on how it effected their workload
  • As soon as IDEO began iterating with real customers and eliciting real customer feedback, Lufthansa’s stakeholders became more motivated to implement the changes since customer feedback was so strong
  • Surprises from prototyping included:
    • The importance of tiny details comes through, like how getting almonds in a little dish rather than a packet made customers feel much more pampered
    • They made additional such changes to how the catering was delivered, which resulted in customers saying they were much more satisfied with their meals–though the food itself (and cost to Lufthansa) was unchanged
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