Concierge MVP saved us a ton of money, even when the business failed to break-even.

Continuous feedback can be draining — especially when staff members are doing their best, but the customer is evaluating them during each interaction.

On top of that, management expects staff to identify and pass this critical feedback. AND in this competitive world of restaurants in a city such as Bangalore, management is under constant pressure to delight its customers. Management makes changes quickly. There’s no HR structure, or at least there wasn’t when we started our startup journey.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

After learning about problems at a hospitality industry seminar, we decided to explore potential business opportunities in the industry.

During customer discovery, “restaurant, café and hotel managers” and “desire to learn accurate, in-time customer satisfaction” were outlined as persona and the problem statement, respectively. As an alternative, customers provide feedback on a paper- consolidated and reported back to management during the weekend.

During discovery, we developed a couple more personas such as “on-premise customers” and “staff members” to finalize their value propositions. We landed on the value proposition “receive real-time first-hand feedback from on-premise customers” for the management persona.

To validate our hypothesis and establish the desirability, we- leveraging the concierge MVP concept- built a scrappy android application that performed only two actions: (a) register a food order and (b) save feedback from the on-premise customers. We deployed a Samsung tablet with our MVP installed at a restaurant in the neighborhood. Over the next few weeks, the team observed both data and behavioral sides to learn:

  • Interactions with the touchscreen tablets
  • Difficulties faced by staff and customers to carry and hold the tablet
  • Technical challenges such as Wi-Fi connectivity loss, battery depletion rate, etc
  • Fear of damaging the hardware etc

During observations and one-on-one interactions with staff members and customers, we discovered that staff members were hesitant to request feedback from customers over a tablet. On further digging, we zeroed in on few key factors leading to such behavior:

  • Staff members were afraid of damaging the hardware. Therefore, they didn’t want to carry it around.
  • It required a change in behavior. For example, instead of a paper menu, the staff members were now asked to carry more massive electronic hardware.
  • Since the feedback was now stored digitally, unlike with feedback on the paper, there was an underlying fear of the inability to review/vet non-positive feedbacks.

After a few brainstorming sessions with management and research on incentivization, we discovered that staff members were equally essential stakeholders. Utilizing the hook cycle, we customized the application to set variable rewards for the staff members. For example, we launched a system to recognize and provide variable monetary rewards to the staff members for collecting feedback over tablets. We iterated MVP a few more times to solidify our learning framework and get closer to product-market-fit.

Later, to scale customer experience, we hired a team of developers and designers. To ensure smooth onboarding of customers, the team and I spent countless hours installing and supporting the system to tighten the onboarding process and develop a customer-centered design. We added tooltips, walkthrough videos, in-app support channels, mandatory training for the staff, etc.

By delivering market insights, real-time feedback, etc. to the management, recognition, and monetary rewards to the staff members, and games and prizes to the customers, we tried to keep the users hooked and product in demand.