Reinventing coffee fix in the office is not an easy task. You have budget constraints and everybody you talk to will probably have a different opinion. The brief was to explore and recreate the service proposition of a coffee vending machine in the office.
The machine has been there for a while, and everybody was used to it (knew where to find it and how to use it). However, it created a pile of paper cups that would go to waste (not allowed in paper recycling bins). It had issues with contactless payments and seemed to have different prices on two identical machines (reason never established, although I do remember people queueing to the cheaper one when we were allowed in the office). Why not using this working from home time to think how this can be changed.
Lockdown did create certain challenges to conduct a service safari, mainly because I wasn’t allowed in the office, nor were many of my colleagues. So, I opted for interviews. I wanted to find out what would motivate people to use the vending machine in the first place, at which time of the day they would use it, which drinks they would go for and, very importantly, which complaints they had about the current proposition (they had many).
Based on this initial research, I combined the results into two types of personas. The first one would go for caffeine fix and have sort of a routine for doing this. The second one wouldn’t have a routine, but would consider getting a hot drink as a social thing.
I then went through the steps of getting a hot drink identifying pain points (I would normally go for coffee myself, but hot chocolate seemed a popular choice also) and analysed the needs of customers against the value proposition establishing gaps or improvement opportunities.
As part of this exercise, I also looked into alternative options. If we were to abandon vending machines, which options could we go for considering cost, taste, eco-friendliness, choice, portion size?
Many colleagues opted getting coffee outside the office due to better choice or taste, but this was an expensive option to go for several times per day. Having a subsidised cafe on site would be a challenge due to space constraints. So I decided to explore two scenarios (coffee machines in kitchens and vending machines).
After another consideration, I decided to combine the two and introduce a top-up card to allow people the choice to pay by cash but minimising this for safety and environment purposes.
I went on to test this scenario. As with the initial research, doing this in lockdown wasn’t particularly easy, I had to create a walk through in pictures and ask respondents to provide their opinion on this. The results were unexpected.
Top-up card didn’t get as much approval from customers as I expected (‘That’s an extra step for me to do’, ‘I will keep forgetting it at my desk and will be getting frustrated’). At the same time, most people weren’t in favour of cash. A mobile app suggested, but this option has been dropped after consideration (‘Why would you want me to download yet another app just to get coffee?’), especially there’re already mobile payment options available (e.g. Apple Pay). I also asked test participant how they felt about using a touch screen and the feedback was generally positive (’It’s great if it works smoothly’). There’s technology on the market to make touch screens more responsive and interactive.
The picture below demonstrates how the service ecosystem evolved after testing.
The pictures below demonstrate the final blueprint and proposition.