My role: Project management, research, stakeholder management and analysis, prototyping, workshop planning, implementation and persona development
Project brief / background
Kokoro, a Korean and Japanese takeaway restaurant with over 80 branches in the UK, is committed to continuous growth and strategic management to enhance the customer experience. With a strong focus on attracting more customers and prioritising staff welfare, KOKORO recognises the importance of addressing management, communication, and environmental challenges within each branch. The key objectives of our project revolve around gaining insights into branch operations, enhancing the work environment, and introducing new services at our restaurants.
Despite our ongoing efforts, we have observed a decline in sales since the pandemic officially ended. It is crucial for us to identify the underlying reasons for this issue and implement effective solutions to overcome it.
During the lockdown, the restaurant industry faced a significant downturn, with most establishments forced to close their doors. Although some restaurants managed to operate through delivery and takeaway services, the overall industry was a mere shadow of its pre-Covid-19 self. Unlike other sectors, the fast-food restaurant industry has been slow in embracing technology and innovative digital solutions. However, the pandemic has compelled many restaurants to adopt tech-driven approaches in the past couple of years. Even well-established brands are shifting towards the fast-casual food segment to challenge traditional fast-food chains. Moreover, customers nowadays have a growing desire to know the ingredients in their food.
Segmenting shoppers has become more challenging than ever before. The Kokoro team undertook extensive studies, collected customer feedback, and conducted qualitative research to develop a new set of customer personas. These personas are crucial for fostering cross-functional collaboration and ensuring a consistent customer-centric approach across the organisation.
Recognising these ongoing trends, Kokoro acknowledges the need for senior stakeholders to collaborate and envision how stores and technology should evolve in response. Customers now prioritise on-the-spot preparation of their food using local, fresh, and high-quality ingredients, and they are willing to pay a premium for this elevated dining experience.
Journey mapping for insights&opportunities
Insight formulation and exploring opportunities
After conducting user research and crafting journey maps, I've acquired a profound understanding of user needs and pain points, garnered from on-site visits and collaborative desk research with the team. This invaluable information has enabled me to identify diverse improvement opportunities. My objective was to distinguish the Kokoro brand from its competitors, moving beyond mere culinary offerings. I aimed to address a topic closely related to food yet of substantial interest: business expansion. By doing so, I sought to captivate the audience and create a distinct identity for the Kokoro brand.
With these questions in mind, I initiated the ideation process by conducting an individual brainstorming session, which was subsequently followed by group reframing sessions. This collaborative approach led us to identify and select two promising service ideas. While these ideas were distinct, they also complemented each other effectively. Although we generated over 20 potential concepts, I employed a prioritisation framework that considered strategic value, desirability, feasibility, and viability.
The first idea we selected involves a strategic collaboration with a third party to seamlessly integrate the proposed system into both our Head Office and each branch. The primary objective of this integration is to optimise overall operations and significantly enhance communication across our entire organisation. As a result of this integration effort, we have introduced kiosks in certain stores, which not only contribute to an improved customer environment but also enhance customer circulation. Additionally, we have successfully linked TVs to the system, eliminating the need for manual operation. Our second chosen concept centers around the implementation of a 'made to order system.' This customer-centric approach is carefully designed to deliver personalized experiences, allowing us to align our services more precisely with the unique preferences and needs of our valued customers. Through meticulous evaluation and alignment of our service ideas with stringent strategic criteria, we have effectively paved the way for innovative solutions that harbour the substantial potential for our business's growth and success.
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