Using field trips to generate insights at Kitch

Using field trips to generate insights at Kitch

Kitch manages and centralises delivery and takeaway, and creates an online store for your restaurant.

What was the biggest issue you guys were seeing before you started going out in the field?

We were aware that we are designing things based on assumptions.

We developed assumptions based on feedback from the sales team, from the support team, from the account manager team. But that was not enough for us to better understand how things were working on the field. We felt the need to get closer to our stakeholders, not just the restaurant managers, the ones that were buying the solutions, but also restaurant staff, what happened with the clients. We wanted to see in a close way how people were interacting with our systems and how these systems that we were providing them were interacting with the systems they had already had in place. And to try and uncover different things that we didn't know because we were in the office and unaware of certain things. It’s helpful to really extract contextual behaviours.

We are a very collaborative team. But it's different when you are sitting in the office than when you go to a food court and try to extract in real time, in real field, what's happening there. It's different when you are sitting at a desk, in a chair then being in the setup of a restaurant. We try to reproduce how people manage our tools in real life with the tools inside the office. But figuring out how the restaurant works is also kind of different. Why do they put their Point of Sale (POS) over there? Why do they put the tablet over there? And why do they have a smartphone or a telephone? So this is the kind of thing that when you are inside the restaurant makes us more aware of the things that could happen around the systems.

What was one of the things that are difficult to duplicate when you are just in the office?

One of the things that we were questioning about each other is, we thought that we knew everything about our customers. And I think everyone likes to think that way. But somehow we needed to be aware that people don't live in bubbles. Even if you create these demos and you try to reproduce things inside the office, there are other things happening in a restaurant and when you go on a field trip, you have other things out of the distractions. You have other people coming out and in and inside a restaurant you cannot reproduce that in your office.

We need to put ourselves in this situation to understand what are the usual distractions that restaurants are facing on their daily basis. What is the other equipment trying to do for them that we are not doing? An example of this is you have a tablet on the left side of the counter and delivery orders are dropping on that tablet. And since this tablet doesn't have a direct connection with the main screen where she's typing, and us being there, we could acknowledge the amount of time that she needs to do this and to perform this action. This was something that if we didn't go to the field, we wouldn't be aware of.

People would say, ‘it would be so nice if we could interconnect these two solutions’, but once you are there, you can feel the pain. Another example is the employee tries to put all the orders in and each order takes around 30 seconds. And at the same time, they are receiving 10 delivery orders. Each one takes like 30 seconds to insert on their POS. And you also have people in front of you ordering things. This can be chaotic. When we were in our office, we weren't aware of that. Once in the field you can feel the pain.

Who gets involved in the field trips?

The trips are great for the product team. But we thought, this is not just something that matters to the product team. We need to involve everyone because we are already collecting information from other teams. We kind of know and understand that it's essential to make this transversal because different eyes deliver different perspectives. If you put those people out in the field, they could bring us different insights and different findings. If I go with the perspective of an account manager, maybe I can observe different things from the perspective of a product or an engineer or a product designer or even someone from sales. This is why we wanted to build different disciplinary knowledge when bringing people into the field. Everyone goes on a field trip to involve an entire company and bringing such a diversity of people into the field and making them kind of embrace this initiative like their own was crucial to make this a success.

We had people from the onboarding teams, from product designers, VP of brands, marketing teams, head of Portugal, head of Italy, head of Spain, even our CEOs, engineer managers, operation managers. Everyone was participating and each one of these persons had a different perspective and it gives us a different layer.

Did you notice when you were out in the field that you got different information from people than what they were telling you?

When we were interviewing people, I'm not going to say that people lie, but yes, people do lie, not intentionally, of course. People were saying some things, but when we were going to the field, we would see that there were some nuances. And it wasn't quite as the person was saying, but now I understand better what this means.

Having an extra layer of information was also very important for us to better understand what to design and when to design it and why we were designing and developing different things. To be more aware how we organise this, and this is kind of a toolkit that I'm providing to you, this is how we do it.

When you are on a field trip, what is one thing you try to keep in mind?

We aim to not interfere with the restaurant operations, keep it a little low profile. At the beginning I would go on each field trip. But now I do training with them on best practices and I leave them to go alone. Training includes some tips on how to run and how to take the notes from the observations, like taking good pictures or doing some videos, trying to understand what kind of things we want to learn on the field and what to observe, like creating a list of things like that. It's also important during this session to talk a little bit about the restaurant they are going to visit.

Do you do any pre-planning before you head out on a field trip?

It's very important to do some homework, like what type of restaurants, what's the connection with Kitch, are they Kitch restaurants? Because we also go to restaurants that have nothing to do with Kitch. This is also us exploring different segments because we really want to learn with them.

We have this kind of observation flow and this is very important because when you go on a field trip, you can go during the first shift or you can go during the last shift, which is lunchtime or dinner time. You kind of catch different types of operations at the different times and you will for sure observe different things.

If you go in the first shift and you go a little bit before opening the restaurant, can you assist how they prepare food? How do they prepare the operations on their POS? What kind of other systems do they need to put on if they have all the food items? We can see providers coming in and like the employees starting to have their rituals. This is something that we also like to observe.

And then clients start to come into the store or the restaurant and delivery orders start to drop on the tablets. Sometimes there's a peak, sometimes there is not a peak. So it floats a lot because inside the restaurant a lot of things can happen. You can have a good day, you can have a bad day. You can have a lot of customers or not.

And if you go during dinner time, you can see the way they close the operation. What do they need to do? What is the last thing that they do? Why do they do it? Does this matter to Kitch in terms of solutions or services? This is the kind of thing that we want to observe. And this is like the observation frame that I instruct to my colleagues when they are there.

Look for main actions, if they have routines, some unpredictable actions that you thought would never happen, just register them. Can we extract a little bit more information if we are observing something and we cannot really understand it?

Homework is also really important because sometimes when restaurants don't have a lot of customers you can use a small interview script of questions you want to ask at the restaurant. Which one of the restaurant staff would I like to ask these questions? Would I like to talk with couriers, with their customers? What would I want to extract from this field trip? So having a more in-depth question, the context around the restaurant, it's easier for us to build the script around the restaurant.

When you are on a field trip, how do you record what you are observing?

We have different ways of taking notes. When you are observing, try to understand and see how that person reacts to the things they are doing. If it makes the person mad, if it has some kind of behaviour that's visible, and if you don't understand it, okay, you can ask, but be reasonable because people are working and sometimes daily life can be really intense.

I created an observation grid with the purpose of exploring and understanding how different people with different perspectives take notes and how they organise them and if they wanted to organise it by themes or just like a diary. It captures main actions, who’s involved, how they perform the actions, why they do them and pain points or challenges encountered.

If you have a question, just write it down and when you see that that person is a little bit more at ease, you go there and you ask, like, oh, I saw that you were doing that and you reacted that way, but I couldn't quite understand, can you kind of explain me what happened there and why? So being reasonable is very important because we don't want to interfere with the operation, of course.

In terms of practicality, it's very easy. I always take notes with a pen and paper because if you take a computer, that's a blocker. Even if you try to write everything down on your smartphone, it's easier, it's more fluid when you have a pen and a paper in it. And you can also draw things around that and use the smartphone just to take pictures and do some small videos. We always make people aware to be careful while they are taking pictures, not to expose identities, because people can be mad about that and we are not asking permission. And if someone asks us to delete something, of course we will delete it.

After finishing the field trip, each field trip has its own Notion page and each of the persons that go have their Notion page to where they can drop their notes.

That's a great way to record all the information on the field trip but how do you make sense and derive insights from all of the data?

When they drop all the information on their Notion pages, we have this field trip repository. I will try to pick up the observations that they brought and I will see if we have already an observation that it's connected to that to start to establish patterns. We write the observation, some insights or context around that and the cause, the status if it's an open, if it's already being worked by a squad or a specific team, if it's in a roadmap or not, a type of observation, if it's a pain, if it's a behaviour, an opportunity, if it's a suggestion, in what part of the journey this does happen, if there's a specific theme around, type of character that is involved, where did this happen? And this is kind of important for us because we can be aware that it's happening in five restaurants and these are the restaurants where this is happening. If it belongs to a specific segment and if we can write some recommendations around that.

Also, this is an open document so everyone can go to the field trip page and see all the open field trips. You can also have a specific part where you can request a specific field trip just to observe a more focused thing. And also, everyone has access to all the completed field trips if they want to go one by one.

We also have this Slack channel where from time to time we share a little bit of information around the field trips which we call the Nuggets UX Research Slack channel. In there we can share if someone brought some good insights from the field and we share them like we put a picture or a small video. This is a way of making information flow through the company and making people aware that things are happening on field trips and we can bring value information.

What were some of the main outcomes you’ve achieved from going out in the field?

We noticed that people couldn't hear our tablets when the delivery orders were dropping there. People were missing orders. We even have people using Bluetooth speakers to make it louder. So with us being the field, we could prove to ourselves that this was a real pain for restaurant staff because we were minimising this, oh, it's just a little component, a little feature from the product, which just sounds. But no, if you don't hear delivery orders dropping on the tablets, you are not aware that they are dropping there. We increased the priority of this to deliver a high impact fix for our customers.

The other key benefit is helping people across the company to become more aware of how our products are really being used. We've already done 35 field trips which involve 56 different Kitchers. It's a lot of people. It's more than half of the company. The field trips are a really good source of extra data and extra information that would bring a different layer to the things that we are designing and developing. This had a quite interesting impact on the product.

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Dennis Schmidt
Product Designer, COYO

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