Service designer Katariina Kovanen-Piippo’s job at Finavia is to make the passenger experience at the airport seamless and pleasant.
“I examine the passenger path at the airport from start to finish and make it better. My goal is to make sure that services are designed and implemented in a customer-centric way, whether the service is online or on-the-spot at the airport,” summarises Kovanen-Piippo.
Observation, interviews and testing as tools
Service designers solve problems related to how a service works. The methods vary, but the objective is the same: to accurately define the problem at hand and then develop a practical solution for it. Kovanen-Piippo works in close collaboration with airport application developers, experts developing passenger services and processes, customer service and commercial business experts, and professionals in marketing, communications and customer experience.
“Customer needs are always the starting point for defining targets for development. Therefore, customer feedback, customer interviews and observations made by customer service personnel are important sources of information. Finavia’s strategic goals also matter. Right now, I focus on parking, the transit passenger service experience, and making Helsinki Airport more attractive to Asian passengers and to passengers from Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Tallinn, Estonia as well,” she says.
Service designer’s dream job
It has been a year and a half since Kovanen-Piippo first started working as a service designer at Finavia. At first, she focused on digital services, but in October, her area of responsibility was expanded to cover all passenger services provided by Finavia.
Kovanen-Piippo’s background is in service development, strategy work and research. Before Finavia, she worked as a researcher of corporate services and in planning the anticipation of demand for educational needs. She was, however, interested in customer-centric service business, future-oriented service design, and so she decided to start a new career path as a service designer.
“This job combines all my professional interests, aspirations and knowledge. The airport is a dream environment for a service designer, because you get to work with space, people, experiences and emotions. A variety of processes and stakeholders are connected to the airport, and your goal is to create a perfect description of the passenger path,” Kovanen-Piippo explains.
“In this job, you must be able to make use of networks and choose the right methods, and you need to be enthusiastic about learning new things. Finding potential solutions out of a large mass of data is also essential,” she continues.
Helping and delighting people
“The best thing about my job is learning to understand people and their needs – I get to learn about how and why people react to things. I’m fascinated by researching things and finding connections between them; I’m also passionate about development work and cooperation with different stakeholders,” Kovanen-Piippo adds. She thinks there is a clear difference between research and service design: within service design, development work has a more concrete level to it, and the impact is therefore more tangible.
“I find meaning in making things easier, making people happy and helping them. It’s motivating to be able to improve things, whether I’m helping customers or colleagues, optimising operations or developing new ways of working. I strongly believe in the value of service design and want to shed light on its advantages,” shares Kovanen-Piippo.
Sanna Vatjus leads Finavia’s customer experience team.