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UX Magazine


A Co-Working Space with the Soul of a Coffee Shop at Workshop Cafe


Thursday, May 1, 2014


Lessons in creating a complete customer experience from the Design for Experience awards.


While the maxim “The customer is always right” doesn’t have a clear source, the idea seems to date back at least 100 years, when hotelier César Ritz lived by the slogan "le client n'a jamais tort" (the customer is never wrong). This line of thinking might be the scourge of waiters worldwide, but some of the basic tenets of experience design have clearly descended from the sentiment.


Practitioners take a much more sophisticated view of customer experience these days, employing tactics ranging from combing through big data to conducting one-on-one user testing as we craft experiences that reward customers and keep them coming back for more, but the basic idea remains the same. Of course, whether or not what the customer or user is expressing is actually right or wrong isn’t the point, it’s all about creating an experience that makes them feel right.


For a lush and modern example of this kind of design thinking in action, look no further than Workshop Cafe, the winner of the Design for Experience award for Complete Customer Experience. This is a unique co-working environment that combines the strengths of an up-to-date office (widescreen monitors, printing and scanning, fast Wi-Fi, and plenty of power outlets) with the best parts of a café experience (a bustling, community atmosphere with great coffee—they’ve partnered with Stumptown Coffee Roasters and built a “bomb” coffee program).


The focus is on running experiments … and gathering feedback to perfect the customer experience.


Customers here are able to reserve their seats using a custom mobile app and can order food using SMS, email, or voicemail, eliminating the need to wait in line or compete for seating. Concierges are on-hand to check people in and accommodate user needs—everything from grabbing lunch from the food truck down the street to a finding a charger for an electronic device. Workshop Cafe opened in 2013, but the physical space and customer experience are continually evolving based on user feedback.


“Since we applied for the award, we've changed a lot, but I think the most requested service was a social element to our app,” says General Manager Thomas Koff. “We had always intended to launch a social page but the overwhelming customer feedback pushed us to focus on it sooner. Now we have a community page that allows people to post a little bit about themselves and what they're working on. It’s a perfect icebreaker and a great tool for networking in the space.”


As their community of customers continues to grow, expansion is on the table, but the focus is currently on running experiments, changing layouts and operations, and gathering feedback in order to perfect the customer experience. Koff says the team at Workshop Cafe has learned a lot by keeping the space modular and flexible.


“Very little is tied down at Workshop Cafe and that allows us to change the space as needed, whether it's to accommodate a special event or because we think a different layout will create a better flow. Having a great framework and modular furniture allows us to adapt and iterate at a rate not typically found in brick and mortar establishments.”





Announcing Winners in the Internation Design for Experience Awards


Friday, March, 21, 2014


We are thrilled to be able announce winners in the inaugural international Design for Experience awards. Presented by UX Magazine, the DfE awards recognize excellence in all aspects of experience design and the winners in each category were chosen in large part based on what the UX community can learn from their achievements.


Complete Customer Experience

Workshop Cafe


A hybrid coffee shop and workplace designed to accommodate laptop workers and enable a creative, usable workplace, Workshop Cafe is the product of a large user research project centered on the needs of on-the-go workers. Judges were impressed with the focus on service design, the way the cafe occupies the space between cafes and co-working spaces, and the integration between the physical space and the app.



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