The power of authenticity in the restaurant industry: A service design approach

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Master’s Programme in Design
This thesis investigates the dynamics of the dining experience, exploring the multifaceted impact of various narrative types, whether experienced physically or emotionally. By taking this approach, the study addresses a fundamental question: How can restaurant services contribute to a meaningful experience and look beyond what is expected? The research methodology adopted a qualitative approach, which was rewarding during interviews. A semi-structured approach facilitated organic conversations, enabling exciting insights and recommendations for service enhancement that were not initially anticipated. As noted in existing literature, while service interaction evaluation is a common practice, there needs to be more understanding of the customer process, particularly within personal interactions in social settings (Walter et al., 2010). This gap highlights the need for further empirical exploration, which this study seeks to address. Throughout the research, it became evident that service design tools played a crucial role in the analysis. These tools facilitated a comprehensive examination of customer experiences, shedding light on the interactions between individuals and their environment. By leveraging these tools, the study gained deeper insights into customer preferences, emotions, and decision-making processes. One significant finding was the relationship between design and business within the restaurant industry. Despite historical tensions between the two domains, this study serves as a demonstration of their complementary nature. By integrating design thinking principles into business strategies, restaurants can unlock new opportunities for innovation and differentiation. This integrated approach enhances the customer experience and fosters organisational resilience and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving market landscape. The study encourages a multifaceted approach to service innovation in the restaurant industry, including developing new offerings. Moreover, further exploration into the psychology of decision-making processes has the potential to generate valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences. By leveraging these insights, restaurants can craft tailored experiences that resonate with their target audience, driving customer satisfaction and loyalty. In conclusion, this thesis emphasises the importance of holistic and interdisciplinary approaches to service innovation in the restaurant industry. By embracing design thinking principles, fostering authentic dialogue with customers, and continuously refining service offerings based on empirical evidence, restaurants can create meaningful experiences that transcend mere consumption, leaving a lasting impression on customers and ensuring long-term success.
Paavilainen, Heidi
Thesis advisor
Rodriguez-Kaarto, Tania
service design, customer experience, restaurant industry, consumer behaviour, design thinking, marketing
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