Forget about automation: why IT should take inspiration from the gastronomy user experience


As a student, I worked in a five-star Italian restaurant where I learned the discipline and practice of customer service. The GM knew exactly which corner to stand in to get a view of each table during service. They would rate diners’ experience based on how they interacted, their microsignals, how much food was left on their plate, and how they looked around the restaurant. What does this intense attention to detail and individual customer experience have to do with running a service-oriented technology company? All.

The tech industry is known for automate processes at the expense of personalization, and this aversion can extend to building the relationships necessary to produce a successful end product. Understandably, some companies and their developers prefer to keep customer relationships strictly functional because those connections are messy, people are unpredictable, and nothing ever goes quite as planned. It’s a dance we have to do again and again with each new client and project.

For those of us who want to operate as service-oriented technology companies, staying on top of customer and customer experiences requires us to stay alert and listen with active attention. Like the seasoned restaurant manager, we must constantly scan our environment for signs of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Service is more than an end product

Before opening every night, the general manager had staff hold long pieces of string to measure angles and the distance between tables to make sure they were straight and the edges were perfectly aligned. Then, after telling the staff the evening specials, he would randomly ask them about the menu. What color is a bean?

Seeing the value of these old-school standards left a deep impression and helped me embed attention to detail as a fundamental practice at every level, from designing good UX to cultivating relationships. Creating a desirable environment is about successfully orchestrating a million small details and always looking for tweaks to improve the customer experience.

This seemingly omniscient Italian from my first experience in the restaurant industry also taught me that being empathetic goes hand in hand with the hard-nosed realities of running a service-oriented business. They showed me how to take care of people, how to make them feel good, and how to read body language.

It can be easy to stereotype tech companies as impersonal distributors of products (and their developers as cogs in machinery), but we don’t just want to take orders. Our job is to become strategic partners right from the start. on the ground for long-term success, which requires constant care and continuous adaptation.

Map the customer experience

We must be prepared to constantly rethink how we work with customers and end users. This is constantly changing as expectations are constantly changing and market standards are constantly changing. The moment we stop trying to improve ourselves through small improvements is when we stop being service-oriented.

In the same way that a restaurant has a service sequence that maps a restaurant’s journey from the moment it walks through the door, we can create a customer experience from every touchpoint.

In the sales process, it helps to layer different people to create more relational touchpoints across an organization. So in our case, a new customer meets with a member of our operations team and then a member of our engineering team to ensure they feel fully supported. Next, we set communication expectations for a scripted onboarding experience. At our review meetings, we solicit feedback to determine if we are under-delivering and course-correct if necessary..

The other thing I learned from this Italian restaurant is that no mistake is irreversible. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong the first time around, it’s how you react when the unexpected happens that matters. Turning a situation around after making a horrible mistake – even sending a cold steak – can lead to even more loyal customers, as it demonstrates that you really care.

The creative heart of the service

Despite the image of technology as cold and distant, it is important to recognize that coding and development itself is creative and we must seek to nurture a healthy environment so that people can perform at their best. . To that end, it makes sense to think that your responsibility is to manage the entire length of the chain, from employees to customers and ultimately to end users. Finding the humanity in the work along every link is essential to building successful partnerships.

In the context of construction products, we must be Creative to design smooth and organized experiences for end users. Many apps sit unused on someone’s phone before they are finally deleted. The only way to get the attention of people who share the same interests and problems is to understand their needs.

To this end, we must always ask our customers: what is the easiest entry point for the user? Creating a low barrier is a quick win which in itself is an onboarding experience and confidence building opportunity.

Likewise, what may make a customer happy may not resonate in the wider market. If customers only hired us to write code, we would only be interested in meeting their expectations. The objective is not only to manufacture products, but successful products that establish or enhance a customer’s trustworthy presence in the marketplace.

Add value through relationships

When we stand in our metaphorical corner of the room to observe the customer experience, we consolidate data from products that have millions of users and harvest insights. We are not interested in quick fixes. Customer service and a focus on the end-user experience means being oriented to what the market wants, not designing in a empty. We can then continue to create value over time.

In catering, the little surprise at the end of the meal adds value because it is unexpected. A complimentary after-dinner liqueur with a tangy origin story is point of detail at its finest. Creating a richer, more complete customer experience can differentiate a technology company in a explode market. For my former mentors, paying attention to every nuance from start to finish is what defines five star service.


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