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Cruising the problem area

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45-60 minutes

  • Pens and markers of different colours

  • Observation notebook or journal

  • Voice recorder, camera/phone

  • Sticky notes

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What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


A Service Safari is a participatory field investigation method for understanding services by stepping into customers’ shoes. During a service safari the service providers go 'on location' and experience a service first hand by going through it themselves. By doing this they find out what service experiences are like in person, which helps to identify each step and touchpoint of the service  and understand how everything works. The new-found perspective on the service can be used as a starting point for innovation.  A Service Safari might focus on a particular service provider, such as a specific hotel, or could focus on a type of service, such as hotels in general. The service safari tool can be used together with the Customer Journey tool. 


Steps how to use this tool in practice


The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group. Tasks can be divided when using it in pairs or a group.


Define the purpose and goals of your service safari, and plan the safari. If you have a completed customer journey map, you can use it as a model for your service safari. Follow the steps in the customer journey map to know where to start and what to do next.


Go “on location” and go through the service to experience it yourself first hand. Act like you were the customer. Immerse yourself in the customer’s experience and act as if this were the first time you were experiencing the service. 


Start the journey from the customer’s decision-making process leading them to approach the service. Next go through all of the steps of the service journey, thinking at each step of the process about how you feel, how satisfied you are with the service, what frustrations you encounter, what could have made the experience even better, etc. Record data during the experience. Write down what you experience and make notes of additional observations and takeaways from your experience. This can include drawings and/or taking photographs and/or collecting artefacts such as brochures and receipts.


Once the data is collected, review it and look for patterns, issues and opportunities from it. You can use any method you prefer for this, from spreadsheets to a whiteboard onto which you can write findings and attach sticky notes. Use categories as headings and write issues related to them under these.


You can add your data on a service journey (see the customer journey tool) to see how one can experience it. Add onto it also all touchpoints, the people involved, (for instance the hotel receptionist), and reactions and experiences of your journey, to understand how everything works together. In a group, each person can use a different colour.


If more than one person goes on a Service Safari, you can compare and discuss the findings of each of you. This can validate the individual discoveries and also help you to synthesise and gain further insights. If you are working alone, you can discuss your findings with a friend, colleague or family member.


Finally, make a summary of your findings to carry you to the next stage. A customer journey can support your summary.

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • You can use camcorders, voice recorders, or a notebook while doing a service safari to take into account small details.

Other tools of this phase

A visual map of the customer’s journey.

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A visual overview diagram of opportunities.

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Studying the existing challenge area.

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Listening to existing customers and analysing this feedback.

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A design brief presents a snapshot overview of vital aspects of a project.

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