Why airport security is useless. (from a customer experience perspective)

Here's what happens as a result of security theater at the Orlando airport: You wait in line at least twenty minutes There's a scrum of pushing and shoving The staff are unhappy and not afraid to share it An unreasonable workload leads to fatigue and errors People miss their flights Here's what doesn't happen: Security is not increased Peace of mind is not enhanced In other words, we're paying a significant tax (time and money) and getting nothing in return. In fact, we get worse than nothing. We could call it an anxiety program, instead of a tax. (After all, when you pay a luxury tax, you get some hard-won luxury as part of the deal). The reason the TSA keeps changing the rules is not because the rules work, but because changing the rules creates more anxiety (for bad guys, they say, but for us too). via sethgodin.typepad.com Another great example of a horrible customer experience. Government is big and powerful. With all its might it imposes a set of regulations onto businesses to (try to) achieve a desired goal.  Three results of the current system: Unhappy employees: All the KPI's put in place are based on operational efficiency and effectiveness, the soft aspect of customer service and a personal connection with the customer/traveler is ignored. Staff is used as a cog in a system created to "guarantee" safety. By removing all possibility to express their own personality, ideas, and direction to the company they become disengages and unmotivated. Unhappy customers: First travelers stand in line to check in. They have had bad experiences in the past so at this point they have booked a ticket with an airline which they know make their trip as easy as possible, including in the check out line. Then they arrive at security. The line is long, half the people are impatiently waiting as they are about to miss their flight. The traveler goes through the extended process of taking of half their clothes and taking out their laptop from the bag etc. etc. They hear a bark that states: "remove your belt sir" and that is the only interaction with the TSA agent...if you're lucky. Unhappy government: Is there an increase in security? Is it worth the number of unhappy people? Airports are unwilling to change because of their monopoly. Especially in cities with one major airport, airlines and travelers have no choice but to use that single one. In environments with multiple larger airports you often see a bigger effort to differentiate through a better customer experience. What customer want is positive emotional cues, trust, and control. This can be done through proper communication, physical points of orientation, and much more. For a scattering of ideas check out the links below: Jamin - Service Design Applied to Airport Security. Engine Service Design - Case study for Terminal T5. Innotour - Service Design in Copenhagen Airport. Is your business imposed with regulations that make it difficult to create a great customer experience?

Here's what happens as a result of security theater at the Orlando airport:

  • You wait in line at least twenty minutes
  • There's a scrum of pushing and shoving
  • The staff are unhappy and not afraid to share it
  • An unreasonable workload leads to fatigue and errors
  • People miss their flights

Here's what doesn't happen:

  • Security is not increased
  • Peace of mind is not enhanced

In other words, we're paying a significant tax (time and money) and getting nothing in return. In fact, we get worse than nothing. We could call it an anxiety program, instead of a tax. (After all, when you pay a luxury tax, you get some hard-won luxury as part of the deal).

The reason the TSA keeps changing the rules is not because the rules work, but because changing the rules creates more anxiety (for bad guys, they say, but for us too).

Another great example of a horrible customer experience. Government is big and powerful. With all its might it imposes a set of regulations onto businesses to (try to) achieve a desired goal. 
Three results of the current system:
  • Unhappy employees: All the KPI's put in place are based on operational efficiency and effectiveness, the soft aspect of customer service and a personal connection with the customer/traveler is ignored. Staff is used as a cog in a system created to "guarantee" safety. By removing all possibility to express their own personality, ideas, and direction to the company they become disengages and unmotivated.
  • Unhappy customers: First travelers stand in line to check in. They have had bad experiences in the past so at this point they have booked a ticket with an airline which they know make their trip as easy as possible, including in the check out line. Then they arrive at security. The line is long, half the people are impatiently waiting as they are about to miss their flight. The traveler goes through the extended process of taking of half their clothes and taking out their laptop from the bag etc. etc. They hear a bark that states: "remove your belt sir" and that is the only interaction with the TSA agent...if you're lucky.
  • Unhappy government: Is there an increase in security? Is it worth the number of unhappy people?

Airports are unwilling to change because of their monopoly. Especially in cities with one major airport, airlines and travelers have no choice but to use that single one. In environments with multiple larger airports you often see a bigger effort to differentiate through a better customer experience.

What customer want is positive emotional cues, trust, and control. This can be done through proper communication, physical points of orientation, and much more. For a scattering of ideas check out the links below:

Is your business imposed with regulations that make it difficult to create a great customer experience?