UX Case study: Customer service managers lack the means to educate their staff properly.

This is a case study of my capstone project which I’ve completed for Red Academy’s User Experience Design program. Based on my customer service experience and BBA education background, it was an enlightening experience hearing from real users and distinguishing what they really want. Also, it was really excited to make an MVP based on their needs.

Opportunity

When I started this project, I had too many thoughts at the beginning about how to make Toronto better.

“How can we make Toronto a better place?”

I kept thinking about it while I went out for brunch with my mom and I had a really bad customer service experience that day. We just asked to change the seat before we sat down, and the server’s response was so rude. I know it’s tough as a server all the time to keep the good service quality but it ruined my day. This made me think about why customer service is different in countries where there is no tipping culture such as Japan and South Korea.

I also realized recently that there are tip jars at takeout coffee shops. I can’t understand what they provide it as a customer service and give me a guiltiness.

“Why do we feel tips are mandatory?”

Tipping is a compulsory social institution in western culture. According to Cambridge dictionary, ‘Tip’ is to give someone who has provided you with a service an extra amount of money to thank them. Some people said the term is an acronym of To Insure Promptness. Since I’m from a country where don’t have a tipping culture, I wasn’t happy leaving tips when I didn’t get proper customer service.

Toronto is a multicultural city and probably many people who have a similar background with me has a high standard of service quality.

Tips don’t improve customer service, because:

  • It allows employers to shortchange servers
  • It inconveniences customers
  • It makes the dining experience bad

I don’t understand why servers get lower payment than minimum wage while it’s expect they will get tips. Some restaurant owners dump the responsibility of compensating employees right to customers.

Back home, the price list is already inclusive of tax and tip, so I don’t need to worry about it when I eat out. I can call the server when I needed via calling button on the table, so I don’t need to answer to the server while I’m eating delicious food. If I can’t change the tipping etiquette, what I can do? My thought is starting from here.

After I thought about tipping, I realized the problem is not just about money itself, the core issue is actually about the quality of customer service — or lack thereof.

Picture from ‘Customer Success Toronto’

There are lots of communities these days, including TechTo, Customer Success Toronto, SalesTO, HealthTO, etc. But for customer service managers, especially someone who is working in restaurants, or retail stores, they might have a hard time to join these events even though they are eager to learn.


Research

I’ve met people who don’t know how to respond to customers effectively in a good manner. It seems like businesses or services doesn’t have a customer service response manual or continuous training for their employees. This problem is not only in small businesses like restaurants, but also government offices. If they do have such a manual or training program, it’s not effective.

I would like to facilitate feedback delivery to managers or supervisors who are in charge of customer service workers and help them to improve. After I thought about my idea, I would like to listen how real users think about customer service and find out their personas not to focus on only my needs, so I interviewed 6 people — aged 20 to 40, living in Toronto.

My interview questions included were..

  • What do you do?
  • What is customer service to you?
  • How long have you lived in Toronto?
  • Do you like to travel?
  • How often do you eat out?
  • Tell me your TOP 3 Applications or website.
  • Do you think the tip should be equal to the service quality?
  • What inspires you?
  • What is your primary goal?
  • How many people are in your household?
  • Do you consider tipping mandatory? Why?
  • How much do you usually tip?
  • What do you think should be improved in Toronto?

Most of people who didn’t like to or didn’t have a chance to travel, they believe that tipping is mandatory regardless of customer service quality. However, some people, who were from or travelled to countries where don’t have the tipping culture, thought customer service quality should be good to deserve the tips.

Half of them said that tips should be equal to the service quality. However, most of them paid the tips even though they didn’t want to because of cultural pressure. One person said when she had a bad customer service, she paid the tips and never went back to the restaurant anymore. I found many people think customer service is an important factor when they choose restaurants, so I decided to do a survey to learn more.

One of interviewees mentioned that Toronto is such an amazing city to try out different cuisine every day, and reasonable price for one household. It was interesting fact because many people thought the food price is expensive in here. The price itself is cheap and especially when you are take-out, you don’t need to pay for the tip so it’s better to buy it instead of cooking and wasting of ingredients.

I heard how other people think about the customer service and it was interesting to hear different thoughts and would like to hear more by survey.

My survey build with multiple choice questions to merge the data easily.

The survey questions included were..

  • How long have you lived in Toronto?
  • Do you like to travel?
  • How welcome you are made to feel when you think about cafes and restaurants in Toronto?
  • How many people are in your household?
  • How satisfied are you with the care and helpfulness of the servers in Toronto restaurants and cafes?
  • What kind of pictures are you taking usually?
  • How satisfied are you with the response speed when seeking information in Toronto restaurants and cafes?
  • Do you like going for parties?
  • What type of seating do you prefer?
  • Overall, how happy are you with your customer service experience in Toronto?

21 people responded to my survey. The overall customer experience satisfaction rate in Toronto is 6 out of 10. When you see the details, they feel welcome when they enter the restaurant but it goes down and the concern resolution rate is 5 out of 10. So, it’s not just my experience, Customer service has room for growth.

Based on the interview and survey, I thought managers need to be aware of the importance of customer service and should train employees well.

This is Chris Murphy’s persona. He is a restaurant owner living in Toronto, and his pain point is it’s hard to train new employees to make sure they have good customer service skills. His goals are to make customers happy, train staff well, become a good leader, and grow a successful business. His pain points are having a poor communication, it’s hard to get valuable and constructive feedback from customers, and server turnover rate is high so it’s hard to train the staff frequently.

And I created user scenarios as a restaurant manager and employer.

Scenario 1

Samantha runs a Thai restaurant for a year and customers are getting recognised her restaurant. She wants to give a proper training for all staff not only customer service staff but also cooking staff, so they work happily and improve themselves as well. She was searching for the education service providers but the cost is too expensive. She wants to find a regular staff training provider with affordable price.

As a restaurant owner, she wants to have an effective staff training method, so that staff can continuously improve themselves.

Scenario 2

James is a Customer service manager of Insurance company. He is promoted recently, and want to lead his team really well. He want to get involved in a community which he can share his concerns and get a constructive ideas from others who have done it before as a manager. He is searching for ‘Customer Service Training for manager’.

As a customer service manager, he wants to have a useful information for leading team, so he can be a better manager.

From here, I built a feature list and user flow.


Planning

After creating Scenarios, I wrote down some features which I want to include. Lots of features I would like to include, but I want to start from a minimum valuable product by organizing into four buckets but it’s complicated to sort out my mind, so reorganizing into three buckets — Must have, Nice to have, Not needed.

Must Have: Login, Customer service training, Search, Community board, Notification, User Profile & History

Nice to have: Challenge (e.g. read 3 training videos and get 100points!), Check in, Share icon, Point system, Camera

Not needed: Gift Pass, Voucher (able to exchange with points), Claim request feature for business owners (to block the fraud claim), Map, Feature ads


I was searching forother customer service training applications and sites, and I found only Dale Carnegie’s Training which I also did and even participated as a coach several times back home. It seems like this might be needed for someone and I want to fulfil this need!

I created a Comparative and Competitive analysis based on similarity of what I want to do. I could not see any similar concept Education sites. Coursera and Udacity are a bit different concept thanmine. So, I searched in the Korean AppStore.

SeriCEO is the application for the CEO community in Korea. The community began in 2001, and it was founded by Samsung Economic Research Institute. Couple of years later, they made an application and share their video clips on Youtube so it becomes popular in the society. They do lots of charity and do lots of offline events including offline morning seminars monthly. Their website and application design wasn’t that great however, the contents are really valuable and I would like to learn from there.

MegaStudy Edu is the most popular online learning site in Korea, and it’s really popular. I like their feature of specialized Q&A which is focusing on the different subjects and answer it by teacher or other classmates. Also, the saved item list is really organized so it seems really useful.


‘CS hero’ helps managers to get useful information about customer service training and get connected with other managers. The user flow include two main areas — customer service best practises and training, as well as a general leadership section.

‘CS hero’ user flow

The CS section is focused around training and getting advice from other managers. The leadership section includes articles, podcasts, trends, and case studies. This is focused on helping manager with their professional development goals.

Based on the user flow, I roughly create a wireframe. I thought about which UI icons could be good for the app. I was researching iOS standards and read material design related posts. I thought it’s good to use some material design elements because I like the use of colours, shadows, and layers. These make it easier for the user to navigate.

Rough wireframe

At first, I put the home button at the bottom, but I changed to Q&A community because there is a high possibility that people are going to use it often.


Design

Based on the rough wireframe, I designed the paper prototype. These are some of my paper prototype pictures.


Based on paper prototypes, I build up the digitalized prototypes, and did some usability testing.

Prototype: Start state and search page
Prototype: Main feature — Training & community

Usability Testing

Usability testing gave me so many ideas how to make it better! Not only the design itself, but also the flow.

Test 1.

You are a customer service manager and currently about to give a performance review for team. You would like to watch some up to date video clips related with the topic.

User goal: Browse customer service training and watch a video clip.
Task: For training purpose, watch a video clip how to give an effective review.

I created the flow based on user research, but design needs more simple according to usability testing with 5 people. They would like to see simple and clear screen and flow.


Based on their comments, I updated the onboarding process, adding the Empty State and Error State, changing Community board landing instead of showing Category, making the navigation bar simple, renaming the main home screen buttons and Change Community tabs.

Empty State | Error State | Main Page

After the change, I did the usability test again with 6 people who didn’t test before. I gave two tasks, and observing them without comments.

Test 2.

CS Hero is for customer service managers especially in retail or restaurant industry to improve their customer service level while delivering useful information what they may need.

User goal: Browse the application and find a flow.
Task 1. SignIn with Facebook
Task 2.
Write a post

If the embed code doesn’t work, please try it at donji.ca/cshero.


Summary

While I was working on this project, I learned a lot from not only teachers, but also users. The most important thing I’ve learned is yo MAKE IT SIMPLE! Sometimes I overthink and tend to be over-prepared, but this course gave lots of inspiration and lessons.

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