Tools for the restaurant call center operator

Centralized restaurant offices are the gatekeepers for reservations at many restaurant groups, sometimes even managing several restaurants in different time zones. It’s a different environment than the most common Guest Center user who is at the front of the restaurant greeting people who walk through the door. Instead, reservationists in these offices wear phone headsets, have big monitors and are multitasking all day long when they take calls from prospective guests. Right now the web version of Guest Center is a simplified version of the iPad.

The product management team asked me to go out and do research to come up with the vision of how the web client can evolve to be a powerful tool for these customers.

How can Guest Center on the web be a robust tool for restaurants with centralized call centers with reservationists managing several restaurants at once?

My role: Lead designer, researcher, Time: 10 weeks
Research

Understanding the day of a reservationist

I shadowed at 5 restaurant groups to observe the tasks of a reservationist to see how they use the system currently

A call center office setup The existing Guest Center web tool reservationists use

Findings

01 A lot of time spent researching guests - Are they a VIP?
02 Spend a lot of time reporting to others about guests - Alert staff about VIPs
03 Pain point is finding a guest's reservation - A caller thinks they have a saturday reservation but it’s actually next saturday
04 When VIPs call, they get priority reservations
05 The reservation list is more important than seeing the floorplan
Design

Vision: Non-Floorplan View

After synthesizing all my findings, I presented my approach to the product team for how the Guest Center web platform should evolve to be a robust tool for this customer.

The “Non-floorplan” View - Reservationists rely on the list of reservations rather than the floorplan, so we should create a view that hides what’s not important. Quick filters on the reservation list can help the reservationist quickly see how many guests they still need to call to confirm reservations.

Vision: Guestbook

We have a guestbook on the iPad product, but not the web today. The product team assumed that right after we did research, we’d build the guestbook on the web, however research revealed that many offices use robust 3rd party guest management tools, and we may not want to try to duplicate what other companies do well already.

What's achievable today?

Focusing on the near term plan, I suggested we build a contextual search into the floorplan view to find or make a reservation. This feature would address findings 3 & 4 from the research.

Tasks:
01 If a guest has an upcoming reservation, navigate there
02 If the guest doesn't have an upcoming reservation, make a new reservation
03 Identify VIPs in search results

Layout of Content

Dates that are all aligned right make it easier to scan down the list
V1: Phone number in lighter grey on the right side. V2: The dates listed on the right side make it easier to scan down the list either by name, or upcoming reservation date.

Action Buttons

If a guest has an upcoming reservation, the reservationist is probably searching for that. If the guest doesn’t, the reservationist is probably searching for the guest name to make one. But what if they already have a reservation and are calling to make another, should we prohibit that?
V1: each row either has the option to go to the upcoming reservation, or make a new one. Not both. V2: multiple buttons per row, to go to upcoming reservation or make a new one

Guests with multiple reservations

For guests that have multiple reservations, how do we display those?
V1: The row could expand vertically to display multiple reservations for one guest. V2: However, once you've narrowed down the guest, it's no longer important to see the other search results, so we can instead display them in an overflow menu.

Keyboard Access

Reservationists are experts with shortcuts and quick actions, so this is the first feature we’ve launched with keyboard shortcuts to navigate quickly through the list.