What are mobile engineers’ top painpoints and priorities around building apps in 2024?

Get the report
Case Study

Puttshack kiosks net 30% performance boost in 90 days with Embrace

Key Results

  • Improved player registration success rate to >90%. With Embrace, Puttshack was able to ensure a seamless player registration experience.
  • Improved online reservation creation success rate to >90%. With Embrace, Puttshack players can confidently confirm their reservations and not miss a minute of putt time.
  • Improved QAing, release quality, and overall kiosk experience. With Embrace, Puttshack never has to worry about how kiosks impact the player or brand experience.

Customer

Puttshack is more than just a new take on mini golf.

With locations from Scottsdale to Boston, and several in between, Puttshack combines proprietary ball-tracking technology to bring mini golf into the 21st century, providing a player experience like no other. Add in one-of-a-kind courses, world-class cuisine and cocktails, and live DJs and music, and it’s easy to see why Puttshack players can’t stop talking about the “wow factor.”

TRACKABALL™ TECHNOLOGY is Puttshack’s proprietary tech that makes all the magic happen. The tech allows Puttshack to pair player profiles to the specific ball they’re using, so players never have to think about keeping score and can instead enjoy the unique Puttshack experience.

In order to make their TRACKABALL™ TECHNOLOGY as seamless as possible, Puttshack asks guests to register all players online, before arriving, and provides an easy-to-use tablet/kiosk experience to recall reservations, or even register new guests, once the party is present.

It’s here, at Puttshack’s kiosks, where mobile meets the real-world experience and where friction can create make-or-break moments for first-time guests.

Challenge

Before guests can pick up a putter or place their ball on the first green, Puttshack players need to locate their online reservation, or register their party, at one of their kiosks.

According to Puttshack Chief Information and Technology Officer Ben Shepherd, “When you visit a Puttshack venue and use one of our kiosks, we want you to be on the course as quickly as possible. If there’s an app error or you can’t look up your reservation, it’s a major issue.”

To provide an improved and more familiar experience to guests, Puttshack is in the process of replacing the original 32-inch screen kiosks — which were powered by Windows PCs — for iPad Pros that run Puttshack’s internal iOS apps.

Built in house from the ground up, Puttshack’s kiosk apps had the typical bugs and issues that any new app would.

Unfortunately, these issues impacted guests’ ability to look up their online reservations or register additional players, leading to more intervention required by Puttshack associates.

“During a busy Saturday night, for example, issues at the kiosk could lead to bigger queues and longer wait times getting onto the course, which is exactly what we strive to avoid,” Shepherd said.

Players that do encounter an issue can ask a Puttshack associate for help, who will then file a JIRA ticket with the Puttshack engineering team. Before Embrace, this ticketing system was one of Puttshack’s only windows into user behavior, making it exceedingly difficult to identify and resolve issues.

This lack of visibility made optimizing their app difficult and time consuming, ultimately pulling engineers away from time they could have spent building new features instead.

Solution

The JIRA service desk can be a powerful tool for mobile teams, but tickets filed by Puttshack associates sometimes lack the detail required to understand and resolve the issue.

“Our venue associates are incredibly busy, so the bug reports we get don’t always have screenshots, details, or timestamps,” Shepherd said. “This made the issues very difficult to reproduce and ultimately fix.’”

In order to make real, meaningful improvements to their kiosk experience, Shepherd and Puttshack knew they needed tools that could see what they couldn’t, and provide the details their associates did not.

“This is where Embrace comes in,” Shepherd said. “We were able to really zero in on user flows and moments that were critical to running successful kiosks. Embrace gave us visibility into our issues, as well as the ability to track the improvements we were making.”

A picture of a Puttshack golf course.

Embrace is a unique toolset for mobile engineers that provides unparalleled visibility into your mobile app performance by capturing 100% of user session data, and providing more than 90% of those insights right out of the box. Since Embrace doesn’t sample or rate limit your data, you never run the risk of having critical issues going uncaptured. Better yet, unsampled data means customers like Puttshack can get a play-by-play of every interaction and experience users have had with their app, making identifying root causes quick and easy.

“With Embrace we can see, in aggregate, network API traffic. We can see log messages by venue. We can see moments that matter to us, like registration success rate, sure, but also the average amount of time it takes for players to get through the registration flow,” Shepherd said.

For everyday users, like Puttshack Principal Engineer Vincent Guerin, Embrace has become an irreplaceable tool.

“For me,” Guerin said, “there have been multiple occasions where Embrace has helped me find issues that would have simply been impossible to catch with any sort of traditional QAing method.”

Results

When Puttshack decided to replace their original kiosks with new iPad Pros, they did what any smart business would do and tested the roll out first.

“We first deployed the tablet kiosks in our Houston venue with the grand opening,” Shepherd said. “Our success rates on our key metrics — player registration and new reservations — were not where we wanted them to be.”

A Puttshack logo.

They adopted Embrace in April of that year and saw an immediate difference.

With Embrace, Puttshack was able to identify underperforming APIs, inefficient user flows, and other issues and errors they were previously unaware of.

“Week after week we saw steady improvement with the changes we were making thanks to Embrace data, and by June we saw player registration success jump over 90% and online reservation success rates climb above 95%,” Shepherd said. The performance optimizations Embrace helped identify has given them the confidence to continue to rollout kiosks globally, he said.

“Those numbers remain steady,” Shepherd said, “and when we do occasionally see a blip, it’s been really easy to figure out why and remedy the situation. That 30% boost in performance has remained a constant.”

For everyday Embrace users like Guerin, working with Embrace goes beyond just finding needles in the haystack. With a play-by-play of every user interaction and no longer relying on JIRA tickets for visibility, the issues he’s been able to uncover have been eye opening.

“It’s helped me personally on several very specific issues that would have been absolutely impossible to identify without Embrace,” Guerin said. “There have been times where user behavior seems outside the realm of possibility, but we’ll add a couple of logs and within minutes we can see exactly what they did that led to their error.

“It’s helped us build a better app and improve the overall guest experience.”

Build better mobile experiences with Embrace

Mobile is the most personal and most familiar technology we have to date. It can enable incredible experiences, like the ones guests enjoy at Puttshack. But when mobile fails, it’s hard to ignore.

For social and entertainment brands like Puttshack, a bad mobile experience doesn’t just translate to lost revenue, but potential hit to their brand. Bringing mini golf into the 21st century requires an experience as seamless as their iPad Pro kiosks imply.

Building a kiosk experience worthy of the Puttshack brand required a level of visibility others couldn’t provide. It required a platform that engineers turn to when building better mobile experiences matters most.

See what insights Embrace can provide you and your team by requesting a demo today.

Embrace

Build better mobile experiences with Embrace

Learn how Embrace helps engineers gain complete context, surface every issue, and proactively monitor app performance with modern mobile tooling.

Request a demo

Build better mobile apps with Embrace

Find out how Embrace helps engineers identify, prioritize, and resolve app issues with ease.

icon-mouse

Embrace is how you make mobile mission-critical.

Understand what people need to fall in love with the things you build.
Go bigger, move faster, and don’t break things. With Embrace.