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Truly putting yourself in your customers’ shoes can reveal a lot about how they interact with your restaurant. What adds to their experience and what detracts?

When you hear about a breakthrough concept, service, menu, or promotion that generates a lot of business and buzz, do you ever slap your forehead and ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Great ideas are everywhere, and you can train yourself to be open to them.  

Innovation can range from a low-tech, low-cost investment all the way to a high-tech, high-cost (but worthwhile) investment. Anything that improves experience, process, or the bottom line is a success. 

Inspiration comes from collaborating with sources within and from outside your usual beat – and innovation skills can be taught. One approach, design thinking, pushes businesses to let go of traditional problem-solving strategies. It forces them to step back and truly see their operation through the eyes of the customer, whether that’s the guest, employees or suppliers. Identifying their pain points and exceeding their expectations requires empathy and creative ideation. It gets your team together to identify problems and opportunities, brainstorm solutions, and then experiment with them early and often until the right fit or fix reveals itself. 

Our Restaurant Innovation Summit, coming up Nov. 5-6 in Cleveland, includes an exclusive four-hour design-thinking workshop, conducted by ExperienceInnovation, in collaboration with IDEO, a leading design-thinking consultancy. Team members from every department of a restaurant business will learn how to apply design-thinking principles to solve the business challenges they face and create new opportunities for their concepts.

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Good collaboration starts with pulling in different points of view from a wide range of expertise.

Design thinking… 

  • Empathizes with customers, defines problems and opportunities, ideates, prototypes and tests solutions.
  • Eliminates silos. Cross-functional teams work together to provide fresh ideas and viewpoints. Input from outside experts and industries is welcomed.
  • Challenges assumptions and is not afraid to try and fail before succeeding.
  • Moves fast. It encourages getting the idea into action, learning from what works and what doesn’t, and trying the next version quickly.
  • Pulls revelations from qualitative and quantitative data. Focus groups and field research are still necessary, but that that information, augmented by other data, such as online reviews and behavioral data, provides a more complete picture of customers’ needs and expectations. 

Want to learn more? Join us at the 2019 Restaurant Innovation Summit, Nov. 5-6 in Cleveland.