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Coffee that’s best served strong: How DNA helped digitally strengthen Mojo’s workforce

It’s no secret that the coffee bean is worshipped in New Zealand.

We claim to have invented the beloved flat white coffee, and even instant coffee – though our American and Australian neighbours might beg to differ.

Meanwhile, a 2015 report by Statista.com put New Zealand’s per capita consumption at 0.94 cups per day, or among the top 20 consumers per capita in the world.

It was in this thriving, coffee-mad nation that independent coffee roaster and café operator Mojo was born in 2003.

It has since gone on to open 35 cafés and become one of New Zealand’s most respected roasters.

But with Mojo rampantly growing internationally and expanding into the Japanese, Chinese and US markets, the company had to ensure it stood out from its competition.

Interaction design and customer experience agency DNA was called upon to create an internal programme for the company that could nurture its employees to the best of their abilities, ensuring customers had the same experience in every Mojo café they visited.

Mojo founder and CEO Steve Gianoutsos says the company wanted to streamline its staff training, track and improve individual employees’ success and build on its workplace culture.

“The more we grow, both internationally and locally, the stronger that culture needs to be. It’s about investing in our people, giving them the tools and training to do their work well,” Gianoutsos says.

“Ultimately, this transcends into great customer experience. DNA had the ability to build something that was scalable and reflected the way we wanted to train.

“Most importantly, we wanted the experience to be enjoyable (even fun) while gaining the required knowledge and skills.”

DNA portfolio director Josh Burt says the purpose of the Mojo Hub programme was to ensure staff upheld high standards in their customer service across an efficient and extensible platform.

“Mojo as an organisation are working in a pretty competitive field both domestically and internationally – they invest a lot in their product, they invest in their store environment – but what they wanted to do was build greater consistency in customer experience and service standards across their store,” he says.

To find out how to digitally design around this experience, DNA embarked on research to find out what a consistent Mojo café experience looked like.

Burt says the challenge in creating consistency was around enabling Mojo to best manage the diversity across their offer.  

Locations for Mojo’s stores were diverse and bespoke, ranging from high-traffic environments like locations in close proximity to train stations, to more value-based environments like the Auckland Art Gallery.

DNA met with people who worked on the tills, in the kitchens, team trainers, store managers,  senior management and even aspiring baristas to get a range of viewpoints on what they need in order to add value and be at their best in their given roles. The jobs, pain-points and opportunities they experienced at various levels of their tenure, from the on-boarding process to maintaining performance standards, were explored.

“What was really clear to us is that the systems that operate within those different stores are finely tuned and if there’s one break in the system, the system is broken,” Burt says.

“If there’s 100 coffees going through at a peak hour and someone gets the wrong order, the knock-on effect is quite critical. Anyone coming into Mojo had to have a really clear understanding of what their role is and add value to that chain very quickly, while the pace they need to operate at to meet standards is high.”

DNA decided the best solution for this was a custom-built, internal performance programme that can be accessed by phone, web or tablet called the Mojo Hub.

Each staff member gets an individual profile and can access different levels of content depending on what level of the organisation they’re at.

“From a training perspective it offers Mojo a scalable solution to build critical baseline competency right through to established mastery. From a business perspective it helps Mojo attract, retain and nurture talent whilst adding critical systems value to what is a rapidly growing organisation,” Burt says.

The solution includes training courses, formal exams, quizzes, and videos on hand, as well as the capability of a social connection aspect – for example, staff in Auckland can chat to staff in Japan through the app.

A staff leaderboard also creates a bit of “gamesmanship” or friendly competition between different stores and people, while push notifications can alert all staff to new products or opportunities.

Burt describes the Mojo Hub as like a “digital performance tool” for its staff.

“It helps you identify people’s progress through an organisation and where they’re best suited to meet the organisation’s needs,” he says.

“It’s more targeted than an intranet and more practical and extensible than a learning management software system. It really allows people within the organisation to engage at different levels and provides a macro and micro view around the talent they have.”

Since the Mojo Hub has been rolled out, Gianoutsos says there’s been an uplift in communication between staff and managers.

He says there’s also been a high level of engagement, considering the platform provides a beautiful, seamless experience.

“We strive everyday to deliver the best cup of coffee to our customers and hands-on training will always be at the core of our training. The Mojo Hub is a part of a larger performance programme that allows our hands-on training to be more effective,” he says.

“Managers feel good that we’ve provided a platform for them to train their staff more efficiently. They find it easy to use, track, and improve their performance.”

Burt says the Mojo platform is all about extending and improving the customer experience.

“We see it as helping position Mojo as a destination of choice, rather than one of convenience,” he says.

“Mojo recognise the quality of product and beauty of their store environment will only get you so far – if there’s not a good experience in-store, customers won’t come back. This solution will help improve service standards across the industry, create a high benchmark and hopefully share a little taste of New Zealand to the rest of the world.”

Elly is Idealog's editor and resident dog enthusiast. She enjoys travelling, tea, good books, and writing about exciting ideas and cool entrepreneurs.

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