Self-service kiosks are interactive computer terminals that give customers access to information, such as inventory availability, menus, queuing, travel plans and more. Prior to kiosk technology becoming widely adopted, cost-conscious businesses had to choose between a faster checkout or fewer employees working the floor. Now kiosks make it possible to do both without sacrificing growth or profit margins.
There are different types of self-service kiosks, ranging from ruggedized tablets in secured enclosures to free-standing stations. Businesses are loaded with hazards, ranging from liquids, steam, temperature fluctuations, to food particles and rough handling. A device’s IP rating will tell you the level of protection the unit has against damage from particles and liquids. A higher number means a more tightly-sealed device that will last longer. Kiosks are used heavily, so they typically have an IP64 rating to protect against dust, splashes, drops and damage.
Self-Service Technology Doesn’t Replace Workers
It’s an urban legend that self-service kiosks can replace living, breathing employees. Kiosks are great for processing orders, but they can’t take the place of staff needed to assist customers, prep orders, stock shelves, bus tables and answer questions. Here are four reasons why kiosks shouldn’t replace your existing staff:
Assist with tablet POS solutions:
Instead of standing behind the counter, associates can be reassigned to the sales floor, where they can use tablets to quickly assist customers looking for an item.
Troubleshoot tech issues:
Customers are going to need help when they run into problems with self-service technology. The machines can’t fix themselves and guests won’t get it right every time, so you’ll need staff on-hand to assist them.
Kiosks are effective solutions to placing restaurant orders quickly or processing transactions from the sales floor, but people will still want to ask a human if something they’re ordering might be too spicy or where to find an item.
Reallocate employees to the back of house:
Kiosks are a great substitute for additional workers at the front of house. This gives you the option to reallocate labor to the back of house, without adding to the payroll.
Why Does Your Restaurant Need Self-Service Kiosks?
Self-service kiosks reduce wait times, engage diners during the ordering process and facilitate more informed choices by displaying ingredient lists, substitutions, and modifiers. Not convinced? Here’s a closer look at why you need kiosks in your restaurant:
Shorter wait times
A self-order kiosk is a line-busting solution that puts your customers in control of the ordering and payment process. Self-service stations help alleviate wait times as additional counter employees would by keeping the lines moving and sending orders to the kitchen as quickly as possible. Although some people may prefer to wait for a person, most people are comfortable with, and will even seek out, this alternative ordering method.
Higher average ticket size
Millennials and technology fans will flock to technology every time they’re presented a choice. The average ticket size for orders placed by kiosk are larger than those taken by employees, because they upsell/cross-sell on every screen and every transaction, without needing reminders or incentives. Automated prompting encourages diners to try new add-on items they usually wouldn’t order.
Enhanced order customization
Sometimes diners have complicated requests, so an employee may need to enter several items and do a lot of clicking between screens, which is an invitation to make mistakes. But self-order kiosks give people the chance to see a full list of modifiers and make more informed choices, so it tastes perfect every time.
Improved order accuracy
Entering orders directly into a kiosk eliminates errors made while transferring written orders to the POS terminal, which cost time, money and resources to correct. Instead, the order goes from the customer to the kiosk to the kitchen. There’s little chance for error while entering the order and it eliminates the need for kitchen staff to decipher someone’s chicken scratch.
Kiosks don’t replace workers, but it gives the restaurant owner or operator the flexibility to redistribute labor to other job codes like prep, running, or bussing. Kiosks mean orders may come in quickly, and people need to be there to handle the rush.
Benefits of Kiosks in the Hospitality Sector
Self-service kiosks are permeating every industry, including hospitality, where they’re being used for everything from checking into a flight or hotel to finding entertainment and booking a dining reservation.
Tired travelers appreciate having a kiosk to simplify the check-in process. These terminals also function as a concierge, helping guests order room service, book a spa treatment, or find local attractions. Kiosks are always open and available, so they’re a good alternative when the concierge desk has a line.
Self-Service Kiosks in Movie Theaters
Every movie starts with a ticket purchase, and instead of waiting in line, moviegoers can bypass the wait by purchasing tickets at the kiosk or online and printing them at the kiosk.
Once inside the theater, it’s time to wait in another line, this time for popcorn. Movie-goers comfortable with kiosk technology can place and receive their orders faster by self-ordering, rather than waiting for a counterperson. Using a self-service kiosk to take orders at the concession stand also eliminates errors that can occur when employees mishear customers’ instructions. Getting orders correct the first time means a more streamlined order delivery process, so guests can be in their seats before the previews.
Labor is one of hospitality operators’ biggest expenses—and movie theaters are no exception. Implementing a self-service kiosk or two allows you to reassign a few staff members to areas that need more hands, rather than hire additional employees.
Shorter lines enhance the customer experience, boost guest satisfaction and hike revenues across the board. Leveraging self-service kiosks so customers can order, receive their concession items and still get a great seat means they’re likely to return for the next blockbuster.
When customers use self-service kiosks
Kiosks don’t need to just look pretty; they have to be functional. Customers are going to seek them out, so make sure your self-service stations have the features people want.
People love to have control over the ordering process, so they can read the menu and view modifiers without feeling rushed. People want to see calorie counts and nutritional information so they can make informed decisions.
Diners are becoming more wary of handing over their credit and debit cards to servers so payments can be processed. Implementing a self-service kiosk within a more traditional POS payment setting allows customers to complete their own payments, so the credit card never leaves their hand.
Customers want several payment options at a kiosk, including mobile wallet, app, and split-checks. Split checks among two, three or even four people are extremely common, so a self-service kiosk should include all these functionalities.
Ingredients for Successful Kiosk Implementation
Regardless of what type of business you operate, web-based applications and wireless connectivity have made kiosks a flexible, cost-effective technology. When it’s time to finally go live, don’t let it be spoiled by a poor implementation plan.
Here are some top tips for a successful kiosk integration:
Consider the work environment
Choosing the right kiosk for your business depends on your industry, environment and business needs. Determine how many stations you’ll need, how they’ll be maintained, and what peripherals are required. If the environment is hazardous to electronics, purchase ruggedized equipment or enclosures.
Choose the peripherals
Make a list of the tasks the kiosk will perform and what interactive applications you’ll require, like check-in systems and interactive catalogues or menus. Accomplishing these tasks may require additional peripherals such as touch screens, speakers, printers that generate take away collateral, barcode scanners and magnetic stripe readers for processing payments.
Develop an action plan
- Setup: A pre-existing software package may be limiting, but building an application from scratch or using web applications allows more flexibility in the kiosk’s platform, compatibility and functionality.
- Location: If the kiosk will be situated in a high-traffic environment or used to process payments, it would be a good idea to choose ruggedized hardware.
- Management: If data will need to be stored in a central database or remotely accessed, then businesses might want to consider connectivity options that allow them to do so, including cloud computing functionality.
- Support: Know what your service options are, what connectivity is required, and how much content the kiosk can store.
The retail, hospitality and restaurant industries have been implementing self-order kiosks to reduce wait times, improve the customer experience and generate higher profits. Movie theaters, restaurants, stores, and hotels have been implementing self-order technology successfully and reassigning staff to new duties without expanding their payroll. Although kiosks can’t replace live workers, this popular technology will enhance your business so customers can have the control they want and the positive experience that will make them return soon.