Feature kick-off with mind maps and surveys

One of first steps to help you understand your planned product or feature better should be freeing your head from ideas and to put them down to “paper”. A good start is drawing a mind map of all of your ideas and your thoughts.

We will try this in practice right now. Imagine you want to build a table reservation system for your restaurant management system. Together with your product manager you will start with a brainstorming for the new feature.

A brainstorming mind map of your first ideas

Even with your first ideas you can already see that the simple reservation system became really complex. And the longer you think about it, the more complex it will become. So how do you find out what parts of your product are really important and what is not necessary to add to your final product? You should probably ask your potential customers. And you can do that really easy with a survey that you send them via e-mail. If you are not sure who your potential customers are you should write to the target group that you think has the most benefits from your product.

In this particular case we want to build a product that will target the customers and also the restaurant owners. So we have to build two surveys to get our answers.

But at first you should build a good and short survey. Avoid forms that need longer than 3 minutes to answer and try not to use too many text fields, instead work with multiple-choice questions and offer a text field if none of your options is the answer the participant wanted to give.

Survey for restaurant management

  1. How do you manage your current table reservations?
    a) With a book
    b) With post its
    c) I have them in my mind
    d) With my POS system
    e) With an extra app
    f) Other answer:
  2. Have you ever used a digital table reservation system?
    a) We never used a table reservation system
    b) We have used one in the past, but don’t use it anymore
    c) Less than a year
    d) More than 1 year
    e) More than 3 years
    f) Other answer:
  3. How often do you add new tables or change the number of chairs per table?
    a) Once a week
    b) Once a month
    c) Once every few months
    d) Sometimes, if a customer wants a table with more chairs
    e) Daily, if a customer wants a table with more chairs
    f) We never change them
    g) Other answer:
  4. Is it important for your customers which table they get?
    a) Very important
    b) Important
    c) Not important
    d) Totally depends on the customer
    e) Other answer:
  5. Have you ever tried to let your customers pre book their meals?
    a) Yes and it was a success
    b) Yes and it was not a success
    c) No and we are not interested
    d) No, but we would like to try it
    e) Other answer:
  6. How do customers contact you about reservations?
    a) By calling
    b) SMS
    c) WhatsApp
    d) Facebook/Instagram
    e) E-Mail
    f) Website contact form
    g) Online reservation system
    h) Other answer:
  7. Are there any thoughts about a digital table reservation system you want to tell us?

When you think about this questions you will realize that they will answer you a lot more about the potential target group. To explain this a bit deeper we will take a detailed look at the questions:

How do you manage your current table reservations?

This will give you really important insights about how digital your potential clients are and if there is already a lot of competition in the field. And if a lot of them use an extension for their POS system, you should probably get back to the whiteboard and rethink your whole product.

Have you ever used a digital table reservation system?

The typical question at this point would be: “How satisfied are you with your current table reservation system?”. But those kind of questions often fail to give you the right answers, because they are very emotional and depend on the current mood of the people that are answering it. For example, a potential is maybe happy with their current solution and have used it for more than 3 years, but maybe it hasn’t worked because the WiFi in their restaurant was broken for the last 2 days and now they are pissed because the current solution does not work anymore and they are not able to distinguish what the real problem is. For this reason you should ask how long they use the current solution.

How often do you add new tables or change the number of chairs per table?

This is the question where we really want the answer to “Do you need a table management feature?”. Most of us developers already have in mind a feature where they can create new tables with chairs in a 2D birds eye view and rearrange them and create new layouts and so on. Would be really cool to develop, but does it make sense at all and is it really important? Maybe your potential clients never change the layout or the number of chairs? Depending of the answers we probably have to ask more about the feature later, but if they never change the layout, the feature becomes less important.

Is it important for your customers which table they get?

This question delivers similar answers to the previous one, but from a customer perspective. Do we need something like a view of the room where a customer can select the specific table she wants? If yes, we would also need the table layout feature.

Have you ever tried to let your customers pre book their meals?

This could be part of your product innovation. Because this could lead to a better experience when the dinner is ready on time and it also would have some advantages for the restaurant owners if you think about their buying process for goods and groceries. But maybe, they all already tried it and it never worked or are not even interested in trying it. That would be a good reason to postpone the feature.

How do customers contact you about reservations?

That question actually gives you a lot more information than you would think at first. For example if they are primarily contacting via calling, then maybe an app for the user is not that important or maybe not necessary for the start of your product. Or if the customers use WhatsApp very often then you should think about a product that automatically connects via WhatsApp Messages? And if they use e-mail or the website contact form, then you know that you should think about a plugin to integrate it into their website.

However, most of the answers will lead to more questions later in the process about the specifics. Still they will help you dispense a lot of features and let you focus on the important ones for the restaurant management.

In the next article we will take a look at how the survey should be structured for the customer.

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