CASE STUDY: How New Zealand Customs Service used UR to redevelop Christchurch Airport
In software development, User Research commonly seeks to improve user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). It can test assumptions made during product design and development, thereby giving organisations an opportunity to make changes that can mean the difference between successful launch that meets user needs or a project failure.
But User Research really doesn’t have to be confined to software development, be costly or adversely impact on delivery timelines – as Assurity Consulting demonstrated with NZ Customs at Christchurch Airport.
In partnership with VR/AR company Corvecto, Assurity’s UR team designed and facilitated User Research to help discover how passengers interact with the physical space of the airport’s international departure lounge. They also looked at how the space could be designed to improve flow and the overall customer experience.
NZ Customs had installed SmartGate technology to streamline the customs process, but they were still experiencing bottlenecks during peak hours. They needed to come up with a solution that would cause minimal disruption for passengers and to business as usual in the departures lounge, while ensuring it remains a secure environment.
Assurity took a Virtual Reality (VR) environment built on a Corvecto platform and created three possible layouts for the departures lounge.
This enabled participants to be fully immersed into these simulated environments and give realistic feedback. While navigating through each experience, participants were encouraged to ‘think out loud’ and express their thoughts and feelings, as well as give feedback on layout and signage.
By incorporating User Research into their project, NZ Customs could validate their assumptions around sign placement and space layout and gain insights into how people behave in relation to their physical surroundings.
As a result, the departures area was redeveloped to improve efficiency and resolve some operational issues for NZ Customs officers, as well as improve the overall customer experience for passengers departing from the airport.