A UX Case Study: Rose Pharmacy Customer Queue Management System
Early this year, Karlo Abapo was interested in learning more about UX so he decided to assemble a team. While judging a hackathon in Cebu, Karlo met Chris Torregosa, a designer. Karlo pitched his idea to Chris, who in turn was excited to join.
After a week, Chris recommended Kyjean Tomboc (Kai), a copywriter, because she was also interested in UX research. To complete the team, Karlo recruited Gelli, a developer, but she had to leave towards the end of the project.
The team had a kickoff meeting and decided to conduct a case study on Rose Pharmacy’s customer queue management system. It’s worth noting that this is the team’s first case study. As amateurs in the field, their common goal was to learn. Getting it perfect the first time would have been nice but that would have been boring and unrealistic!
Quick disclaimer: We do not work for nor we are affiliated with Rose Pharmacy. This is just a side project for fun and learning. Plus, we’re also using this project as an excuse to drink more beer during our meetups!
Rose Pharmacy is one of the top pharmaceutical retailers in the Philippines today. With over 252 branches all over the country, their goal is to provide easy access to quality and affordable medicine to customers.
The pharmaceutical retailer’s corporate philosophy is focused towards fostering a customer-centered culture, as illustrated in their KSM (Kay Sarap Magmahal) membership card program.
As part of their efforts to embody their customer-centric philosophy, Rose Pharmacy has a customer management queue system in place on selected branches. Essentially, its purpose is to manage customer flow in their physical stores.
The customer management queue system’s benefit is two-fold:
*It benefits customers because it reduces their perceived wait time. They’ll have a more accurate idea of how long they would have to wait before a staff member will attend to their needs. Also, shorter perceived wait time is associated with more relaxed, happier customers.
*It benefits Rose Pharmacy employees by ensuring smoother operations through a more organized and centralized flow of information.
In one of her visits at Rose Pharmacy Ayala Center Cebu Branch, Kai noticed that a Korean couple were having issues using the queuing system.
Based on this observation, Kai proposed to the team to conduct design research. The team agreed and decided to find out if there were areas of the queuing system that could be improved from a user experience perspective.
Specifically, the team wanted to answer these questions:
- How are existing customers using Rose Pharmacy’s queuing system?
- Are users having usability issues with the system? If yes, what are these usability issues and how can we help solve them?
In this case study, we will explore the answers to these main questions. We will also present our findings on the what, how, and why of our proposed design solution.
Are you still with us? Take a deep breath and let’s go!
The Design Process
To help us make design decisions and refrain ourselves from making assumptions, the team decided to use Stanford’s d.school design thinking process.
Empathize With Users
First off, we wanted to understand the thought processes, biases, habits, and mindset of existing users. To accomplish this goal, we opted for a contextual inquiry.
As Usability.net describes, the goal of contextual inquiry is to gather as much data as possible from users for later analysis.
Specifically, our contextual inquiry approach involved the following:
- We approached 5 existing users of the queuing system in Rose Pharmacy Ayala and asked them if we can observe them while using the queuing system.
- After observing each user, we asked follow-up questions and shared our observations with the user to verify accuracy.
Based on our contextual inquiry, we uncovered the following insights:
We discovered three main user groups:
- Priority Lane user (senior citizens, PWDs, pregnant)
- Regular Lane user (users who are not senior citizens, PWDs, pregnant)
- First-time user (tourists, non-locals in the area)
How are these user groups using the system?
User 1 — Regular Lane user
Observation: a Rose Pharmacy staff member signalled the user to forego the system and entertained customer purchase without priority number.
There was no need to get queue number because there were no customers in queue.
User 2 — Regular Lane user
Observation: User tapped “Regular Lane” button
User feedback: “I’ve done this countless times and I usually tap the regular lane label”
User 3 — Regular Lane user
Observation: User tapped the “Regular Lane” button
User feedback: “This isn’t my first time and I usually tap the regular lane label”
User 4- Priority Lane user (senior citizen)
Observation: User asked younger companion to tap the priority lane button
User 5 — First time user
Observation: User was confused which buttons to tap for the first few seconds
“Should I tap Rose Pharmacy or Regular Lane?”
“What is this KSM button for?”
“I have no idea what’s going to happen next?” after tapping regular lane.
Creating Job Stories
After understanding the who and how of our users, we wanted to find out the why.
For this goal, we decided to use Job Stories instead of crafting personas.
Alan Klement’s format came in handy:
User+ Moment of Frustration + How Progress is Visualized + How Life is Better
Based on the observations and insights we uncovered during our contextual inquiry, we came up with these Job Stories:
Job Story 1
User: Priority Lane User
When I want to buy an item from the Rose Pharmacy counter, I want the staff to know that I’m a senior citizen/PWD/pregnant so my needs will be prioritized , and I don’t have to get in line with regular customers and wait for too long.
Job Story 2
User: Regular Lane user
When I want to buy an item from the Rose Pharmacy counter, I will look for the queuing system and get my priority number, so I can finish my errand as soon as possible.
Job Story 3
User: New user or First-time customer
When I want to buy an item from the Rose Pharmacy counter, I will look for any customer lines or ask about priority numbers, so I can finish my errand as soon as possible.
Defining the Problem
After reviewing our observations and insights from Step 1 (Understanding the User), our next goal is to identify and prioritize user pain points/needs.
Identifying pain points
The top three pain points we discovered are:
- Priority Lane user (Senior Citizen) was not familiar with the queuing system so she had to ask assistance from companion to use the system.
- First time user is confused and overwhelmed with all six buttons.
- First time user had no idea about what will happen next after tapping lane of choice.
Prioritizing pain points
We decided to prioritize the pain points we’ve identified based on its significance to the user as well as its significance to Rose Pharmacy’s business goals.
Our assumptions of the significance to users were based on our contextual inquiry findings and job stories.
Meanwhile, our assumptions of the significance to Rose Pharmacy’s business goals were based on our interpretation of their About Us section (website). According to their website, the customer is the centerpiece of their corporate plans and they aim to promote a customer-centered culture that is uniquely Rose Pharmacy’s.
Pain point #1: First time user was confused and overwhelmed with all six buttons.
Pain point #2: First time user had no idea on what will happen next after tapping lane of choice.
Pain point #3: Priority Lane user (Senior Citizen) was not familiar with the queuing system so she asked assistance from companion to use the system.
Ideating the Solution
Now that we’ve identified the top three pain points, our next goal was to come up with a design solution. Here’s what we did at this phase of the UX research process:
- Brainstorm design solutions to address top three pain points with team members.
- Create lo-fi sketch of design solutions.
- Brainstorm design solutions to address top three pain points with team members.
After a brainstorm session, we came up with the following design solutions:
Pain point #1: First time user was confused and overwhelmed with all 6 buttons.
- Reduce number of buttons from 6 to 4. Remove “Rose Pharmacy” and “Corporate” buttons. During the contextual inquiry, we asked some of the staff about the buttons and they mentioned that it’s rarely used or not even used at all.
- Improve UI microcopy. Update the labels and text instructions.
Pain point #2: First time user had no idea on what will happen next after tapping the lane of choice.
*Add UI microcopy to inform user about what’s going to happen next after tapping lane of choice.
Pain point #3: Senior citizen user asked assistance from younger companion to get priority number
*Improve button visuals and labels- Colors, Larger font, Icons
2. Create lo-fi sketch of design solutions:
Next, we built an interactive prototype based on the low-fi sketches.
Finally, we are now ready to perform a guerrilla usability test of our interactive prototype!
A portion of our test plan looked like this:
Criteria for participants of the guerrilla usability test
- Recruit 5–7 participants representing our three main user groups on-site (Rose Pharmacy Ayala Center Branch).
Procedure for conducting the tests
- Approach user.
- Ask kindly to volunteer for the test. It will take at least 5–10 minutes of their time.
- Brief user.
- Carry out test tasks.
- Say thanks.
Testing tasks for the participants
- Buy 2 pieces of medicine: [medicine name here].
- Find out about the best brand of medicine for LBM and buy it.
- Use this Rose Pharmacy card (don’t say KSM or Pfizer) to buy [medicine name].
- Tell me what each button is for.
We were able to perform a usability test of our prototype with 7 users: 5 regular lane users 2 priority lane users.
With permission from the test participants, we recorded all sessions on video and reviewed user interactions with the system. It helped us gain more insights after the guerrilla usability test.
Here’s what we found out after collating our test data:
The two users who failed to accomplish the first task had the following issues:
- 1 priority lane user (senior citizen) replied “I don’t know” when asked “tell me what each button is for”.
- 1 regular lane user tap “Pfizer button” instead of tapping regular lane button in one of the tasks (find out about the best brand of medicine for LBM). It turns out that the user associated “LBM”with the “Pfizer” brand.
After our first guerrilla usability test, the team decided to put this side project to an end.
If Rose Pharmacy would have been a real client, our next step is to address the issues we uncovered during the first guerilla usability test. We will iterate and make changes to our prototype and perform usability testing again until all user pain points are addressed.
Takeaways from Team Members
Learn by doing. Even you don’t know what exactly you’re doing just do it anyway. Adjust and get things done. Resolve issues immediately and accept that not all things will follow as planned. Processes and Techniques are tools. Always evaluate if we’re doing the right thing in context of our goals. Also, work with the right people. It’s easier! UX reminded me what it is like to be human.
Humans are complex. Most of us are quick to assume that a user will do or act a certain way. No matter how well-versed you are in human behaviour and product design/research, you’ll almost always uncover new insights by simply going out there and talking to your users. Finally, I realize that I need to improve my interviewing skills!
Being able to suspend judgement is one of the lessons that made its mark on me. When we started the user research I already have some assumptions and biases on what with users will want and what they need but as we progress through I realized that people will surprise you with their own context, belief and pre-conceived notions. The stories they tell themselves translates outwards on their experiences and how they use the product which made every user unique on their own. With a little empathy, we can sure understand the narratives behind their actions and make logical designs that will encapsulate the experience around it.
Special thanks to Karl Michael Dela Cruz (for helping us with the testing plan and questionnaire) and to Karen Rae Arnoco (for the extra pair of eyes/observer during the usability test).
Got some feedback? Whether it’s about our methodology or the product itself, kindly let us know in the comments.
You can also send your love letters to us: unominquiry at gmail dot com. We like hearing back from people who are as passionate and curious as we are in using design thinking to solve problems.
Thank you for reading!