I have worked in both customer service and in hospitality a few years prior to discovering UX/UI Design. Months ago, I came across a post written by William Frazier, “UX Design: A Table for Two”. The main point from the article is that as designers, we should talk more to people in other industries to learn, practice, and share better UX practices. I am totally on board with this.
After reading William’s post, I was inspired to share my own experience on how being in another industry has tremendously been helping me as a UX/UI Designer.
In hospitality, to deliver the best fine dining experience I’m always thinking about:
1. Guests’s perception and needs.
As a Server’s Assistant, one of my main duties is to clear and set up tables. I always have to make sure that our tables are set up the right way: Cutleries, napkin, and glasses has to be in a certain position on the table. It has to be as aligned, neat, and organized as much as possible.
A clean, neat table is important for the guest’s perception of our restaurant.This is similar to when we are cleaning up our designs (especially how we layout content, the alignments of buttons, pictures, texts, etc).
First impression counts.
Other duties that I do in this role to give guest’s the best experience, include:
- Filling up guest’s water.
- Clearing guest’s table to make room for more food coming or, just to make room for them to place their arms.
- Wiping the table of any stains.
- Answering any questions if servers are not around.
These may be small things for guest’s to notice, but it goes a long way in terms of ensuring that our guests are comfortable and getting the service they need to have a pleasant experience. Just like for UX/UI, we are designing experiences for user’s to be as pleasant, seamless, and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
2. Server’s and hostess’s needs.
My other duty is to help look after server’s stations. That is- to fill up cutleries, plates, water jugs, as well as do tasks that server’s needs assistant with. So, I make sure that server’s have what they need to make their work flow efficient, as guests are our number one priority.
For the hostess, we make sure to be as fast as possible in clearing and setting up tables so that they can seat the next guests as soon as possible.
So in an essence, I have to be in server’s and hostess perspective to think about how I can make their flow easier. As a UX/UI Designer, we always approach design challenges by being empathetic of our users. What are their pain points? How might we be able to solve their issues? What is their current flow like? How can we improve it?
This point ties in with the above point- I am always thinking how to make things more efficient. What is most important to do at the moment as there are many things to be done during peak hours? I would always have to think about prioritizing my tasks when I have 2–3 things thrown to me at once. This is something that has been beneficial for me when I am meeting deadlines for a project, which is figuring out- what needs to be done first? How can I maximize my time?
As a customer service representative in retail:
1. How can we meet the customer’s needs with our product(s)?
This requires a lot of (as you know) listening to the customer of what it is that they are looking for. This also requires me, as a sales representative to know the products as much as I can so that I can help tailor to their specific needs.
Just like in UX/UI, we are always thinking about the user’s needs/goals to align with business goals as well.
2. Listen to the customer’s story/problem that they have.
This ties with the previous point- but it has helped me to exercise my listening skills. My job as a sales representative is to ensure that I can help them in however I can. So that means, we must be asking questions to dig a little bit deeper to understand where they are coming from- so we can help however we can.
3. I’ve learned the importance of communicating and working together with customers, managers, and co-workers in solving an issue.
In retail, sometimes we don’t have the answers to all the questions/issues that a customer has.
And so, we turn to our managers and co-workers over our earphone set, or go towards them in person, to see if there is anyone else that can help. We all work together to help our customer’s get the answer(s) they need.
Similar in design, we have to always be communicating and collaborating with teams from other disciplines, client stakeholders, and users to come up with a way to better solve a problem. It is always better to get as much input (ex. testing) as much as possible and getting feedback from other people as well. We don’t always know everything, but someone else might know more, or have better insight than you do. So it is best to never assume anything and reach out to others and work together on it.
As William puts it in his post, UX Design is everywhere. Even though, most of us are being trained for creating a great user experience online- it is also important to not limit yourself in thinking about online experience. We can get so much more inspiration, knowledge, understanding, and even new ideas when we decide to step into other industries.
Because really, UX Design, in the words of Don Norman-
“User Experience encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services and
its products ”
By stepping outside of our industry, we can better improve user’s experience.
Is there another industry that you had the chance to learn more of recently that has been helping you as a UX/UI Designer? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to read about your experience.