Pride is blue
From task-oriented to people-oriented
KLM Passenger Services (KLM PS) is the ground crew of the bluest airline. They are there to support the passengers. In total, KLM PS has 10 departments, more than 71 different types of functions and 13 different services.
Everything within KLM PS is aimed at turning as efficiently as possible. That is the time between the moment that the doors of a landed aircraft open and the moment when those doors close again before departure. It is about making as many turns as possible within the set standard, with as many passengers and luggage as possible, and in a safe manner.
How do you give 1,600 employees the space to put the customer first? How do you do this within the framework of a logistics, task-oriented organization in which more and more processes are automated?
A shared mentality and culture in which employees are given and take the space to give substance to customer-oriented work. The pride in blue that every individual has always felt became more of a collective pride.
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KLM has invested heavily in self-service passengers in recent decades. From check-in to baggage drop systems. Airlines are giving customers more and more control over their own journey.
A process with a major impact on the organization. By automating customer processes by emphasizing efficiency, employees have to work differently. It used to be a task like labeling suitcases, now it is a matter of proudly transferring KLM to hospitality. About giving employees the freedom to do good things for travelers. So that those travelers choose KLM with full confidence again.
We see it everywhere. The landscape of the service has changed. Just like KLM, supermarkets, for example, are also giving their customers more and more control over their own journeys.
Reframing the problem
The question we were asked in 2012 was to jointly investigate how PS could drive customer-oriented work within these developments and efficiency targets. After the initial conversations, we stepped back to see what the organization’s underlying need was. We have framed the challenge to facilitate and stimulate a culture where the customer is central. How do you do this for and with 1,600 employees within the framework of a logistics, task-oriented organization in which processes are increasingly automated?
KLM PS recognized itself in that overarching question and that became the basis of our collaboration. It was the start of a project in which KLM employees were given control over the content and implementation. We facilitated the direction, the tools, knowledge and the process.
We always reframe the question at the start of a project. We do this so that we start a process in which we look for solutions to the right challenge.
Suggestion box and responsibility
We started with an idea box. Not a classic variant where you drop an idea but one that people make responsible for their idea. From implementation to success. Together with colleagues and with the support of our team, we developed the ideas into business cases and projects. We naturally experimented with prototypes. Many ideas and initiatives emerged, below a selection of what has been realized.
Are you curious about the detailed description of the projects, then download the Case Study! (Dutch only)
A selection of the ideas that put the customer first, devised by KLM employees.
And then what?
We have been able to supervise these and many more initiatives for 2 years. The approach led to a shift in the culture of KLM PS. More shared pride in the beautiful blue and a greater sense of cohesion between the different departments. More attention for the passenger and more space to give substance to customer-oriented work.
After these two years, it was time to put the control in the hands of KLM PS itself and to transfer our working method and embed it in the organization. To achieve that, we built the Service Design Studio at Schiphol. A place where we worked with people for 7 months, 7 days a week and 12 hours a day. A place where we could take KLM PS people and train them in design thinking and a more creative, open way of looking and working.
Putting people first
Matching real human needs is what creates real meaning and value. We zoom in on what truly drives your customers and explore the world through their eyes. Our research leads the way to opportunities to make their lives easier. Human-centered design guides organizations to solve complex problems.
Interviews, Stakeholder analysis, Customer Journey Mapping, Prototyping, Co-creation