While there are many ways to rate and review restaurants, these are not focused on evaluating individual servers via positive comments and constructive suggestions, therefore servers find it difficult to both improve and secure new employment.
The picture above is a sample of the current (manual) feedback systems for some restaurants, used as reference for research and product design.
Three different personas were identified as the problem was stated.
1. The Waiter
2. The Customer
3. The Restaurant Owner
A series of in-depth interviews were executed with each one of these personas. The goal of this interviews was to gather feedback on the current ways that waiters get evaluated by customers and managers, as well as some general insights regarding what a good and bad service mean for each one of them.
The conclusion of the interviews was that service plays the second most important role inside a good restaurant. But, how do you ensure a good service? Here are the most important pain points regarding feedback and evaluation systems focused on good service improvement:
1. Written feedback is often ambiguous.
2. Five star rating systems are very open to interpretation.
3. Checklist based evaluations are often filled mindlessly.
4. Positive feedback is rare.
5. Hiring process for waiters depend on managers' gut.
6. "Good service" has a very broad and open definition.
To define these specific and concise competencies, a brief survey was made, with two simple questions:
1. Mention 3 things that a good waiter does and 2. Mention 3 things that a bad waiter does.
After compiling all of the 408 answers, which included detailed descriptions, skills and behaviors, a translation was made into many competencies. From this new interpretation, the top 6 were selected:
The way our three personas are set to interact based on the in-depth interviews was conceptualized and represented on the Venn Diagram showed on the right.
Therefore an obvious separation of the product needed to be made:
1. Waiters and Managers App
2. Service Evaluation App
The Service Evaluation App will be presented in a tablet as it is the perfect size for usability amongst the majority of users. Acording to our conclusions of the in-depth interviews, The App should be used right when the customer finishes eating and orders the check, not after, not before, as this is the perfect time for him to make an evaluation without the hurry of leaving since he has to wait to pay.
The Waiters and Managers App should be accessible in both smartphone and tablet, and should be targeted, but not limited to, the Restaurant Manager to view the performance of this waiters, allowing him to give specific feedback to them that will allow improvement or recognition of good behaviors.
Before giving a graphic design for these two products, a name and logo was created to give an identity to the whole experience. The name defined for it was "Waitron".
Once the research was done and the conceptualization of the products made, a series of UX concepts were created, iterated and finalized with UI design for both Customers App and Managers App..
Based on the feedback gathered in the research, the Customers App should be specific and short, but most importantly take into account the current pain points of traditional evaluation systems, such as 5 star rating systems. As a result, the App contained only two screens, the first one focused on positive feedback, the second one with negative feedback and an optional third for comments.
This positive and negative feedback screens were built upon the 6 competencies found in the study mentioned at the beginning, that way the user would evaluate in a non-ambiguous manner.
Since positive feedback is rare according to the research, it was only obvious to include it in our rating system. Also according to a Gallop study, recognition for good work releases dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pride and pleasure. Better yet, that dopamine hit cements the knowledge that more of that behavior will create more praise, resulting in another dopamine drench, and so on. This is why positive reinforcement works so well, even among animals.
Once the final wireframes were selected, an exploration on different toggle buttons for both screens was made, were two options were considered: smiley and sad faces and the iteration on the icon color from grey to red/green:
Out of the three options, the first one portrayed a more understandable reaction when tapped, as the face conveys emotion to the user so he understands that the competency he is evaluating is either positive or negative.
With the toggles designed according to the competencies, the first screen should pop-up after a small welcome message. Here the user would have the option to "skip" this screen, but if he selects at least one competency, the bottom button text will change from "Skip" to "Next". Same pattern for the second screen.
The initial sketches for the wireframes of the Manager App were made mobile-first. Said this, a priorization was made amongst the the different outputs that the Customers App would deliver: Waiter Stats, Competencies Performance and Comments. A layout with three sections was proposed iterating on different order for them, after some feedback with a restaurant owner, the final order was defined.
The final interface of V1 wouldn't have any navigation bar or menu on the Home Screen, as it shows a dashboard with the metrics delivered from customers' input. The waiter profile section has an options menu on which the user can export via email or pdf a personalized brief of each waiter performance.
To show how the two main interactions inside the landing page will work (Waiters/Competencies), a quick prototype was built in Principle.
All the mobile interface features were transported into a wider (tablet) view. In which an overall review appears on the right side as a floating window so it doesn't interfere with the detailed metrics on the left side.
After finishing this exercise I realized that being a good waiter is definitely not an easy job. But beyond me realizing obvious things, I honestly believe in this product even though it's just a design practice/test. I firmly believe that something like this can change the way waiters perform on a daily basis and will give them actionable metrics to reach excellence in their own duty.