Running Products as Restaurants

We all have to eat in order to live. But it doesn’t mean that the only solution is a restaurant or a particular restaurant. Software products are like restaurants: people may use your product but it doesn’t mean that their are stuck with it; they can go somewhere else to attend for their need.
Let’s forget for a bit about the software and focus on restaurants: why do you choose a particular restaurant? What are the must-have and nice-to-have “features” that make you choosing it? I could argue that for most people these are the things they are looking for when choosing a restaurant: quality of the food, quality of the service, restaurant location, available tables, and ambiance, curiosity or sense of adventure.*

I’d argue that if you’re not feeling adventurous and you just want to have a nice evening with your family or friends then the primary criteria are:
  1. Food quality
  2. Service quality
  3. Ambiance
Ambiance is important because you do want to feel cosy or exquisite. But if the service quality (waiters not being polite and helpful or taking too long to get the food) is not satisfying you, then ambiance doesn’t matter. But quality of food trumps both ambiance and service quality: you couldn’t care less about these two if you don’t like what you eat. I’d argue that you might even put with a bad ambiance if the food and service is great.
You struck gold when your restaurant does a great job at all these three things.
Now, if you manage your product like a restaurant then you want to make sure that your product is a high quality food – it solves the needs you tell your users that will do beyond any doubt. Then you want to have a bug free product, that feels fast and easy to use, you want to have good customer support – this is the restaurant service quality equivalent. And finally, you’d want to delight your users with a well thought design and great UI, smart defaults and microinteractions – this is the ambiance part.
If you do so you might get new customers when they feel adventurous and want to try a different “restaurant” instead of their regular choice.
* I left the price outside because regardless of the price bracket you will find more than one restaurant in any bracket.
** Image by Nick Webb – Petrus Kitchen

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