We conducted a Contextual Inquiry for StrawberryPOS, a restaurant technology startup. By following a data-oriented, bottom up approach to clearly understand customer needs, we generated insights and recommendations that helped Strawberry make key business decisions.
Interviewing, Affinity Mapping, Contextual Inquiry, User Needs Evaluation
StrawberryPOS is a restaurant point-of-sale system that offers billing, inventory, online ordering, loyalty tools among other features on a single platform. Although they provide a powerful suite of tools, Strawberry observed that its customers were adopting only their basic features. So, Strawberry was failing to up-sell to its customers and needed an external eye to find what was preventing their customers from adopting further features.
We conducted secondary research on restaurant businesses, loyalty programs and other competing POS systems in the market. We were interested in understanding how people successfully adopted technology in the past and how that can be applied to the current problem.
Interviews and Observations
We identified two restaurants around us that used Strawberry POS and luckily they were happy to help. We stepped into the restaurants to observe the staff while they worked with Strawberry POS without disturbing their daily operations. We took notes on their working style and the role Strawberry played in their business.
Following that, we conducted in-person interviews with the staff and the owners during the less busier hours of the day. The questions for the restaurant owners were directed towards purchase considerations of POS softwares while the questions for restaurant staff were directed towards the usability of the product. We also spoke with the Strawberry management and the sales executive to get an internal view of company operations and their vision for the product. This helped us identify the gaps between the customer needs and the value that the product offers.
Following each interview, we conducted an interpretation session in which the team went through the interview to uncover important findings to make affinity notes. These were done within 48 hours of the interview to ensure that the interviewers remembered details.
The interpretation sessions generated about 300 affinity notes, which we then used to build an affinity wall (image above) that helped us identify patterns in the data set.
- Third Party vendors were taking business away: We found that restaurants used third-party online order/delivery systems, since these came with a user base of their own. While restaurants were excited about Strawberry's new online ordering feature, they feared losing their current user market built through third-party vendors.
- Transactional Data was lost: Restaurants were entering either incomplete or incorrect transaction details. Staff's lack of knowledge was resulting in loss of transactional data that Strawberry relied upon.
Based on our findings, we had the following recommendations for Strawberry:
- Integrate with third-party APIs, so that Strawberry remains the "all in one" solution for restaurants.
- Train restaurant staff to enter order details correctly, or use other means like bar codes to make transactional data entry easy & error free.
Thanks to our recommendations, Strawberry POS now integrates with third party APIs and is working with restaurants to provide them with appropriate training and documentation.
Have no assumptions about the target user: We initially assumed that restaurants were hesitant to adopt more features because they weren't tech savvy. Through interviews, we learnt that they were really excited to welcome technology into their business. We learnt that other issues prevented Strawberry up-sell to its customers.
Let your interviewee be the expert: Over interviews, we saw that people were comfortable and were giving us valuable insights, when they were treated like experts on the topic.
Write down your goal and work towards it. Our team initially did not set a clear scope and we were looking at solving every single problem, which obviously drove us crazy! Our professor's advice at that point saved us and our project! We wrote down 3 simple things on a piece of paper: What is the problem? Who are you solving it for? What is the end result if this problem is solved. And then it became our North Star!