DESIGN EXERCISE

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the problem

Wait Staff Reviews: While there are many ways to rate and review restaurants, these are not focused on evaluating individuals servers. Design an experience where diners can submit positive comments and constructive suggestions for the wait staff, and servers can use this feedback to both improve and help to secure new employment. 

the real problem

Before diving into the designs head first, I took a step back, and tried to figure out what the real problem was. I started by asking myself a lot of why questions. Like, why is this a problem at all? Are restaurant owners having a hard time hiring wait staff? Are servers having a hard time finding job? Are wait staff service quality REALLY that crucial to an amazing dining experience?

I started typing out these questions as I bounced them around in my head. As I dug deeper into each of these questions, I started mapping out the answers visually.

 

Its a huuuuuuge image so click to check out the whole thing!

 

KEY QUESTIONS

Why aren't people rating wait staff today? We use a lot of apps like Yelp and reviews in Google Maps for restaurants every day. Yet the rating of quality of services for a restaurant have never taken off.

I dug a little deeper into the problem, via both in person questions as well as related discussion topics on online forums, and found that when it comes to recalling a restaurant experience, most people put food first and service second. See visualization of this problem below.

Click to zoom zoom!

What's the hiring process for wait staff today? Due to the short time frame given for this exercise, I didn't have a chance to talk to actual restaurant owners or wait staff managers. Instead, I turned to the next best thing, the internet.

I dug deep into many articles on "How to hire great wait staff", and read many articles on "how to ace your interview as a waiter/waitress". These provided me with a lot of insights on the hiring process, and what restaurant owners try to look for when hiring. Some key finding summaries below:

Good interviewers asks questions regarding people’s passion, past experience, and examples of how they went above and beyond on their past jobs. As well as detailed accounts of how they’ve dealed with difficult customers.
There’s a big leap of faith for hiring wait staff today, in that you have put in a lot of trust in their stories, and there is no measurable way to gauge someone’s skill / friendliness / past performance.

So I thought to myself... A record / rating system that follows the employee around could greatly improve the hiring process today. Think github for engineers, or behance for designers. Except in this case, you would be showing off your past customer ratings.

defining the problem

With some burning questions answered in terms WHY. I start trying to define the problem a little more. One of the most important things I did was to focus in on the type(s) of restaurant we are looking at here. Asking the question, who would actually get value from something like this?

 
 

making assumptions

At this point, while there are still uncertainties, as a product designer, I had to make some assumptions, and come up with a strong point of view based on the research I've done. 

I had two options. One was to build a super lightweight experience tagged onto a existing "restaurant review" ecosystem. In the case of Yelp, engaged users can review specifically about the level of service they received. Individual wait staff are motivated to be team players because they are being judged as a whole. Restaurant owners and managers can simple visit the yelp page of where the person have worked previously, and make a good guess based on their overall performance.

Option 2 was to focus on making the rating process as seamless as possible for diners. Encouraging them to take on a task that traditionally they are not motivated to do.

Click to see the full digital sketch

Ultimately, I went with option2. With the assumption that the barrier of entry for a diner to rate wait staff can be solved. And individual rating + reviews can be more helpful for both the wait staff and their employer.

After that, I proceeded with high level flows and wireframes. Then validating the idea by showing it to different people

 
 

The solution

Finally, I ended with a solution that pairs the rating experience along with "pay by phone" option. Now diners can easily pay their bill via the phone by simply scanning the QR code on the receipt, while giving their wait staff a quick review.

 

See the whole flow, click to zoom!

  Its a big gif so it might take a while to load. Be patient!

Its a big gif so it might take a while to load. Be patient!

 

On the wait staff side, the experience allows them to quickly get an overview of all their past reviews and ratings, and the ability to link it externally to any potential employers that are interested.

 
 

Annnnd that's a wrap folks!

If you made it this far... I applaud you. But jokes aside, I believe this experience really opens the door for review apps, which have traditionally been very transactional experiences, to new opportunities. You are now creating a stronger bond between the wait staff and the diner. You are there now for more touch points beyond just "where to eat today? let me read some reviews". You can get much better data by storing what each customer have ordered... etc.

The opportunities are truly endless, and I would love to come onsite to discuss these ideas further :)

Thank you for reading.

- Owen