Verifying in advance specific dynamics of the interaction would help anticipating potential issues and improving the requirements upfront, but how can users experience and test a service that doesn't exist yet? Validating service concepts before their actual implementation is extremely difficult, especially when they heavily rely on human interactions.
Role playing techniques provide a good strategy to set-up small and large scale simulations, engaging users, the service staff and other relevant stakeholders in replicating some of the service dynamics and experiences. The simulation can be designed as a big role play game, in which every participant (both service users and operators) has a mission to accomplish and -in some cases- a plot to study upfront. The set-up requires to define (and characterize) the space where the simulation can take place, the overall rules and the missions.
Performing the whole experience of both users and operators during a service delivery helps spotting pain points and fixing the set of requirements. If the simulation is repeated multiple times, some elements in the plot or in the environment and touchpoints could be rearranged on the go, to keep refining the service prototype while completing the testing sessions. Moreover, if the concept involves new behaviours for the service staff, the role play sessions could become relevant training exercises.
Role playing-based simulation are usually eye-opener, regardless the level of fidelity of the set-up. In order to effectively capture insights and update the service requirements, the facilitators need to partially shadow the participants who are going through their missions, and partially observe the overall dynamics to capture insights from a broader perspective.
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