Product Development in the Hospitality Industry: Practical Empathy [RE-POST]

May 17, 2019 By Robert Jones

Whenever our product team thinks about product development the hospitality industry, a primary approach is to first think of how a product will make someone's life easier or more enjoyable. For our product leaders, it's about a sort of practical empathy that way. It's a good philosophy that has guided them on all successful product development projects. 

Lately we’ve spent a lot of time evolving our Infor POS product to benefit restaurants, food courts, cafeterias, and hotel food and beverage operations. So here are some thoughts about how practicality and empathy help to guide how the team develop products.

Exploring customer goals and barriers

A big part of what the product development team does is to try to precisely match what they can create with what our customers really need in the red-hot present. The first exercise is to consider customer goals. What are they trying to accomplish that our product can directly address? What are the barriers that keep them from getting to where they need to go as a business?

Getting a sense of these needs was more than enough for us to plan for the right functionality as intelligently as we could. The team know that our products have to meet these needs and throw in a few extras for good measure. This is a competitive industry, after all.

Empathy as a starting point

An obvious and key starting point for the product development team was fully understanding our customers' goal to increase daily order volumes. Another issue to address was slow-moving lines that undercuts that goal. Yet another was ballooning labor costs and our customers' need to maximize resources around those costs. Finally, a big priority for our customers is improving consumer experience by giving guests more control as they interact with menus, and with the brand in general. 

It's with a keen sense of empathy and understanding applied to all of the above that we're best able to think about how to approach developing the right code, hardware, integrations, range of functionality, and many other practical areas of concern for Infor POS and other essential solutions. When you know who you're serving, know what they care about, and then care about and take action on what's important to them, that's an edge all of its own. From there of course, there are even more things to take into account.

Product development chain of benefit

When developing technology products with that sense of practical empathy in place, there are more factors to consider besides our immediate B2B customer. We also have to think about B2C; our customer's customer. It's like a chain along which everyone involved should experience some kind of benefit. 

This means that if our customer gets a 30% increase in order volume because they're using our solutions, it corresponds that their guests can then place their order quickly, more easily, and more efficiently. If our B2B customer found a reduced number of order errors and saw less waste, then that means their B2C customer gains the benefit of always getting what they ordered the way they intended, never having to send a dish back to the kitchen. 

You get the idea. The product should serve everyone involved along the chain. That's how we know we've done our job well as product developers.

Technology products must serve real needs

This brings us back to the beginning. Product development that achieves any level of success is always about serving real people with real needs, being sensitive to the goals of users, and always considering the quality of experiences of the people those users serve. 

Whether B2B or B2C, always thinking practically, and building what real people care about into the planning stages is always the name of the game. That's how our customers win, too. 

For more about point of sale technology and the restaurants industry and what industry leaders should be looking for in progressive and scalable solutions, be sure to get your copy of the 2019 Smart Decision Guide.

Get it right here.

Filed Under
  • Technology
Industry
  • Hospitality
Product
  • Infor POS (Point of Sale)
Region
  • Worldwide
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