Improve experience of users complaining about long queues during check out
Google PM Interview: For a retail store, users are frequently complaining about long queues during check out. What strategy would you use to improve the experience in the short term and long term?
The primary responsibility of a product manager is to lead the vision, design, and development of a product. When a business decides to create a product, it is based on the recognition of a genuine customer need, one for which the customer is willing to pay. The product manager plays a crucial role in recognizing customer needs and steering the design and development of products that effectively address those needs.
This product design interview question assesses your comprehension of the process involved in transitioning from customer needs to product development. This process entails clearly defining the customer's identity and understanding what they aim to achieve. It also involves outlining various use case scenarios where the customer engages in activities related to the product, and subsequently, prioritizing the features to be developed.
What is the interviewer looking for?
The interviewer is gauging your performance based on the following:
Can you offer insightful observations about the customer and their requirements?
Are you capable of presenting a variety of use case scenarios that cover different aspects?
Is your response well-organized and coherent, or does it deviate from the main topic?
Do your solutions delve beyond superficial suggestions, offering in-depth descriptions?
Can you introduce unique ideas that set you apart from other candidates?
Does your demeanor convey confidence and credibility? Would your guidance be compelling to engineers and product professionals?
How to answer Product Design Questions?
Here is a step by step guide/framework, you should follow while answering product design interview questions:
Ask clarifying Questions to narrow the scope. (Q)
Define the Goal you want to achieve. (G)
List the User Segments and choose one segment to focus on. (U)
List and prioritize the Pain Points. (P)
List out your Solutions. (S)
Evaluate the solutions and prioritize them. (E)
Walk through the MVP & Define the Success Metrics (M)
Summarize your answer (S)
State which solution you would recommend.
Recap what the solution does and why it is beneficial.
Explain why you prefer this solution.
(PQ-GUP-SEMS) -> Mnemonic to help you remember the steps & their order.
1. Ask Clarifying questions
Q1: What's the size and type of the retail store? (Supermarket, boutique, etc.)
A1: It's a large supermarket.
Q2: Can you provide information on the peak hours when long queues are observed?
A2: Long queues are primarily observed during weekends and certain peak evening hours.
Q3: Are there any budget or time constraints for implementing solutions?
A3: No specific constraints have been set; solutions can be considered without budget limitations.
Q4: Is there any specific technology or platform preference for implementing solutions?
A4: No specific technology preference; solutions can leverage any suitable technology.
Q5: What is the current checkout process like, and how many checkout lanes are available?
A5: The current process involves scanning items, bagging, and payment. There are 5 checkout lanes available.
Q6: Are there any specific customer demographics we should consider?
A6: The customer base is diverse, ranging from families to young professionals.
Q7: Are there any recent changes in the store layout or product offerings that might contribute to the checkout issue?
A7: No recent changes reported in store layout or product offerings.
Q8: Is the store currently equipped with self-checkout options?
A8: Yes, self-checkout options are available, but not extensively used.
Q9: What is the average cart size, and do customers tend to purchase items for an extended period?
A9: The average cart size is moderate, and customers generally shop for the week.
Q10: Are there any existing measures or strategies already implemented to address queue times?
A10: No, nothing is implemented.
2. Define the Goal
The primary goal is to enhance the overall checkout experience at the large supermarket by significantly reducing wait times in queues during peak hours. The objective is to create a more efficient and seamless checkout process that not only addresses the immediate concern of long queues but also improves customer satisfaction and long term retention.
The aim is to implement both short-term and long-term solutions that contribute to a smoother, faster, and more enjoyable checkout experience for all customer segments, considering the diverse nature of the customer base. The ultimate goal is to establish a checkout system that aligns with the modern expectations of convenience and speed while maintaining the supermarket's commitment to customer service.
3. User Segments:
At this step, list down the different user groups that are part of the ecosystem of the problem you’re solving for.
User groups should be distinct from each other and have unique characteristics. Here are some of the major user segments:
Families: Typically have larger cart sizes, diverse purchases, and may require additional time during checkout.
Young Professionals: Smaller cart sizes, quicker transactions, and a preference for faster checkout processes.
Elderly Customers: May require assistance, slower-paced transactions, and potential challenges with technology.
Online Shoppers (Click and Collect): Prefer online orders but need efficient in-store pickup.
Considering the diverse nature of the customer base, I will focus on improving the experience for the "Young Professionals" segment. This segment is characterized by smaller cart sizes, quicker transactions, and a preference for faster checkout processes. By addressing the needs of this segment, we can work towards a solution that not only reduces wait times for them but also contributes to an overall improvement in the efficiency of the checkout process, benefiting other segments as well.
5. Pain Points
Major pain points of the Young Professionals segments are,
Long Wait Times: Customers, especially during peak hours, experience extended wait times in checkout queues.
Bulky Items Handling: Difficulty in handling bulky or large items during the checkout process causes delays.
Payment Processing Delays: Slow payment processing, especially for cash transactions, contributes to increased wait times.
Underutilized Self-Checkout: The self-checkout option is available but is underutilized, leading to inefficiencies.
Limited Express Lanes: The current express lanes are insufficient, causing delays for customers with smaller cart sizes.
Long Wait Times: High priority, as it directly impacts customer satisfaction and overall experience.
Bulky Items Handling: Medium priority, as it contributes to checkout inefficiencies, especially for certain customer segments.
Payment Processing Delays: Medium priority, addressing the need for faster payment methods.
Underutilized Self-Checkout: Medium priority, as promoting self-checkout can contribute to faster processing.
Limited Express Lanes: Low priority, but still relevant, as optimizing express lanes can benefit customers with smaller cart sizes.
The highest priority is given to addressing long wait times, as it is a critical pain point affecting overall customer satisfaction. Bulky items handling and payment processing delays are of medium priority, and improving the utilization of self-checkout and optimizing express lanes are considered with lower priority but still relevant for enhancing the overall efficiency of the checkout process.