A Chinese-fad dim sum restaurant offering entertainment services
One of the things I enjoy doing during my free time is visiting different restaurants and trying new food. As I visit more restaurants, what the impression of a restaurant depends on in my mind changes. Previously I only cared about whether the food tasted good, but I became more aware of the whole restaurant and the complete experience from the time I arrived to the time I left. Among all my lows during a restaurant visit, there is only one phenomenon that I cannot stand at all and would leave at the moment I see it:
A Lonnnnnnnnnng Waiting Line
It is hard for the restaurant to address the waiting line issue from the environment's perspective (e.g. increasing the area of the restaurant) because replanning and reconstructing everything takes much time and money. If the restaurant hires more staff, it would then be a waste because not every day is busy. Therefore, I wonder, without wasting time and money on restaurant construction and management,
How might we keep customers stay in the restaurant while they are waiting for getting seated?
Identify the scope of the project
Envision a promptly creative solution that is feasible
Since the service in a restaurant is a complex and broad topic, it is very easy to either be limited by going too further into a single point or be trivial by covering an all-embracing experience superficially, only touching the service. Therefore, it is essential to identify the scope of the service we design and determine the depth we take to search for a solution for different issues.
Secondly, the restaurant market is competitive, and to attract customers, the restaurant will have to figure out a solution that fits rightly into the contemporary market trend. It also has to be innovative to make the restaurant's brand stand out while being feasible and practical.
I led the service design and visual branding of this project and collaborated with another designer to build and improve the whole customer journey.
After we rescoped and reframed our goal for 4 times throughout the design process, we ended up with a theme restaurant called Full Moon that provides entertainment services from design, artifact, and service perspectives.
Restaurant Light Board
We were unexpected that currently, the market has already come up with diverse solutions to attract customers' attention to make the waiting time feel less boring. However, each of them has some limitations. Therefore, more innovation may be necessary to boost the effectiveness of the solutions.
To start with setting the scope of this service, we asked ourselves three questions:
What problem does this service address?
Who is involved in this service?
How can this service be applied?
We conducted market research, identified ecosystem map, analyzed business model canvas, and got to a key insight:
Entertainment is an effective solution for keeping waiting customers and its application in restaurants remains a niche market that still has space for innovation.
Business Model Canvas
Based on our insight, we reframed our problem statement from
How might we keep customers stay in the restaurant while they are waiting for getting seated?
to a more specific and practical one
How might we provide entertainment in restaurants for waiting customers in order to keep customers patient and maintain the sticky customer relationship?
Click to see a more detailed description :)
As we obtained the handles to search for solutions, we also needed a more detailed understanding of our targeted users to inform our design and brainstorming. And we were not prepared for the situation when our interviewed users said they would rather spend time on their own entertainment than engage in the activities at the restaurant. So here comes the new challenge: how might we attract customers with our entertainment service?
We conducted semi-structured interviews and created personas and empathy maps to acquire more understanding of our targeted users' needs. Then we combed the user experiences by constructing a user journey map, identifying the highs and lows of customers' emotions. We found that:
The current way customers are killing this time is mainly their own entertainment, for example, phones, chatting, etc.
Customers will pay attention to and be impressed by the facility, decoration, and artifacts in the restaurants.
Customers will be surprised by the novelty in the restaurants, especially in dishes and the way the dishes are served.
Customers will also develop a positive impression if the restaurants offer extra services.
Based on our insights, we reframed our problem statement again to encourage a more effective solution:
How might we provide entertainment in restaurants to attract waiting customers in order to keep customers patient and maintain the sticky customer relationship?
Click to see a more detailed description :)
We are surprised to observe some patterns in the customers' needs, pain points, and problems. We went ahead and obtained three categories from the clustered topics.
These three categories informed our design plan, and we decided to adjust our problem statement by extending it from lower-level perspectives "human, artifacts, technology" to a high-level strategy:
How might we provide entertainment in restaurants to attract waiting customers in order to keep customers patient and maintain the sticky customer relationship by improvements on the theme, service, and design of the restaurant?
We developed our product, which is a restaurant, and designed our solutions, which are services and concepts making up the restaurant based on the three categories theme, service, and design.
“A Restaurant Vitalizes Waiting Time with Entertainment”
Aiming at creating an immersive theme experience that extends the service to fill in the gap in the market as well as adds more novel design elements, we designed a restaurant brand that uses entertainment to make use of the waiting time.
Full moon is a dim sum restaurant that has a treasure hunt theme. It explores the niche market of entertaining services to waiting customers via the design of technology, artifacts, and humans in the restaurant. Besides entertainment, the restaurant also brings more freedom and transparency to the customers to improve their eating experiences and gain their trust.
The Chinese name of the restaurant is pronounced shun-yue-ghee. It means searching for dim sum. At the same time, the character for canton (粤) has the same pronunciation as the character for the moon (月), so we also want to convey the message of searching for the moon. Moon also means hometown in Chinese culture. Therefore, while customers are searching for the dim sum in our treasure-hunting theme restaurant, they are also searching for the moon, and thus searching for the taste of their hometown.
The name “Full Moon” is derived from our values of searching for the moon. In China, the mid-autumn festival is the day that the full moon reaches its largest point, and on that day, people gather together with their families and celebrate their love and this festival together. We use the element of the full moon here to emphasize the feeling of hometown and reduce people’s homesickness by our food.
The shape of the logo is a moon partly covered by a cloud, echoing the name and the message of searching for the moon.
In the logo, there are some illustrations of dim sum dishes. These are very representative dishes like shrimp dumplings to show the specialty of the restaurant.
Other illustrations are treasure hunt elements combined with the dim sum, indicating that the dim sum dishes are the treasures the customers have to search for and finally acquire.
“Food and time are never wasted here.”
Waiting time is never wasted.
In the restaurant, entertainment is provided through theme, service, and design to take care of the waiting customers. Their waiting time is no longer spent on fragmentized information and distraction. Instead, the time would be used and looped in the entire flow to provide customers with more novel and meaningful experiences. The restaurant would also provide transparency about the waiting status to reduce customers’ anxiety and distractions.
Food is never wasted.
In the restaurant’s service, the ordering of the dishes has a more customized design which provides more freedom for the customers to try more food with less waste. Meanwhile, the restaurant will provide more background information about the food in the entertainment that gives customers a deeper understanding of the food. The novel design of how the food is served and presented to the customers will also enrich the customers’ eating experiences.
Future Journey Map
After we have the basic idea in our mind, we went through the journey again to address problematic points accordingly and built a future journey map that shows improved new steps and experiences enabled by our ideas and new values brought in.
In this map, the mood is greatly improved from the previous AS-IS user journey map. The future state section shows the implemented ideas and the relative types in ten types of innovation that inspire the ideas. It will also show different channels and touchpoints that are platforms for the future activities.
We proposed four main design solutions for the three categories and developed storytelling around the according customer needs by visualizing them in storyboards.
Thematic Design - Novelty
To offer an integrated impressive theme, I proposed to build the whole restaurant around a consistent theme that invites customers to join a thematic experience.
Service - Entertainment & Bonus
We plan to provide several entertaining activities to fill up the waiting time to extend the customers' patience. Completing the activities, customers will also have the chance to win some rewards.
Service - Artifact
Providing well-designed artifacts, we want to add more to the entertainment service that vitalizes the waiting time.
Service - Customization
To promote customers' satisfaction, we designed the menu to offer more customizations that gives customers more flexibilities and options.
Around our design plans and categories, we built prototypes of our restaurant and its services. We then reviewed our whole journey and listed our potential impact and our future directions.
Theme: Brand Logo and Outside Signal
Outside of the restaurant, the brand will be put up to attract customers and also as an advertisement.
Theme & Novelty - Artifacts:
The menu is designed in the style of treasure hunting and contains dim sum dishes and their prices. The customers will be offered the menu while they are waiting to pre-order if they want.
Service & Novelty: Tablet
A tablet(left) will be provided to the customers in the waiting areas. On the tablet, they will be able to explore activities like games, food stories, the restaurant, etc (middle). They will also be able to check their real-time waiting status (right).
Theme & Service: Poker
Artifacts like poker cards with food stories on them will also be provided for the customers to have some entertainment and also learn more about the food.
Theme & Service: Treasure Hunt
When customers' table is ready, their tablet will have a pop-up map that leads them to find their seat. While they have entered the restaurant, their pre-ordered food will be cooked to save more time.
When the customers are in their seats, they could take time to check the utensils. The utensils will also be designed under the theme of treasure hunting and on the napkin there will be a food introduction and stories for them to read. The customers could bring it home as a collection and the design will be different and keep updating to encourage them for future visits.
Theme & Service: Plates
The plates customers will be using will have riddles on them. When they finish their food, they will be able to participate in solving them to win some rewards like discounts, etc.
Service & Novelty: Puzzle Game
When the customers are waiting for their bill, the tablet will also provide some entertaining activities like puzzles for them to kill time. They would also be able to win some rewards that will be activated on their next visit if they won the game.
Customers can also buy some souvenirs from the restaurant when they leave.
This service blueprint shows the service that the customers will be interacting with throughout their eating in the restaurant. The entire establishment of the service depends on the collaboration of various stakeholders in the ecosystem. We rely on the artifacts in the restaurant, technology, and human beings in the restaurant to directly interact with the customers, bringing them entertainment and enjoyment. On the invisible backstage, we involve two primary actions that enable the interaction: design and produce.
For the design action, the main support internal action that allows the service to be delivered is collaborating with decoration and visual designers to build the whole atmosphere of the restaurant around the “treasure hunt” theme. Considering the produce action, the most important support process is working with a factory to produce the required artifacts and decorations.
Benefit other stakeholders in the ecosystem
Food is one of the direct interactions that the customers encounter in the restaurant. Because the restaurant aims to update the food regularly and also design different dishes according to the solar terms to add more novelty, the chef will have more opportunities as well as challenges to practice and improve themselves in the kitchen. Therefore, the chef would be benefited from gaining both experience and more salaries if possible.
Because this is a thematic restaurant, lots of things ranging from decoration to artifacts need customized design and production to fit into the immersive theme. Therefore, designers with proficient skills would be strong support that enables the establishment of the whole setting. Interior designers, graphic designers, food designers, etc. would all be included in the loop and thus gain benefits.
Because one of the main touchpoints is technology and it has also been a trend in the market, the restaurant would need support from developers to design and construct different systems that are launched on the tablets or other technological devices in the restaurant, for example, the ordering system, the payment system, the table system itself, the other novel technological activities such as the map showing the seat, etc. In this way, developers will also join the beneficial group.
The factory is also another primary support provider for our direct interactions. After the designers hand in their work for the artifacts, the restaurant will rely on factories to produce the needed items. Therefore, factories would gain more orders and thus earn more profits.
Farm & Nature
As the stakeholders that provide the ingredient of food, the farm and nature would be significant support that can benefit from the restaurant. Firstly, since the farm gets orders to provide food for the restaurant, it would earn profits. Furthermore, as the restaurant is trying to reduce food waste through several innovations, the environment will also be protected.
From the perspective of the theme, we could improve it by making it more direct and obvious by adding treasure hunt elements and artifacts in the setting.
Considering the service, the current service, though already provided a certain degree of improvement, still needs to be iterated and tested to fill in important gaps and address mood decreases.
As most of our design ideas did not get the chance to be implemented, a real-life prototype could allow further validation and improvements.