Designing product with hospitality

Created with Humaaans and Undraw

The product I work on helps customers deal with taking orders, managing inventory, processing sales, and analysing that information so that they can focus on what they are good at — serving good food with great hospitality.

Recently I read a book called “Setting the table” by Danny Myers which describes his experiences in building his restaurant businesses and what struck me was the similarity between his philosophy translates well to digital product design.

These are some notes I made and how it resonated with me.

You may think, as I once did, that I’m primarily in the business of serving good food. Actually, though, food is secondary to something that matters even more. In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.

Getting pixels to the screen is only part of the job of a designer. Tying those pixels back to real customer problems is crucial to understand how to create a positive and uplifting experience when our customers are trying to their job done.

Hospitality is the foundation of my business philosophy. Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction. Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side. The converse is just as true. Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two simple prepositions — for and to — express it all.

You can take this quote and apply to things such as in-app greetings and notifications.

  • Encouraging language used in messages when you open the app
  • Little red notifications that actually tell you something useful to help you do your job better instead of some random update that is not related to you

You know when the product is working for you when those messages are meant for you.

Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Services is a monologue — we decide how we want to do things and set our own standards for service. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.

We have our product roadmaps and if we deliver that without getting feedback, then that’s just a monologue.

Listening to and understanding the customer problem is the start. Next, a thoughtful response through a well-designed feature/product. Followed by more customer input and feedback is how you build a dialogue.

In a crowded industry of many solutions out there how do you stand out? What makes your favourite restaurant stand out? I bet it is both the food and service that makes you return to it time after time.

What makes your product stand out? I bet it is in the way you solve your customers problem and how you present it to them that makes your customers return to it time after time.

That’s it in a nutshell, product design… It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.