Despite the rise of delivery, take-out and online ordering technologies, restaurant still value the physical experience. In fact, U.S. businesses lose an estimated $83 million annually due to poor customer service according to Parature, and 62 percent of U.S. consumers have switched brands in the past year due to poor customer service.
In other words, restaurants that don’t provide an engaging experience in-house could encourage customers to order online instead or choose another establishment all together. It’s important not to “put all your eggs in one basket” – restaurants require engagement both in-house and online in order to be profitable.
Rather than relying too heavily on technology – or worse, not using it at all – restaurants should maintain a healthy balance of both to drive engagement. The key, though, is to not just incorporate the latest technologies but to use them to provide value. That’s the kind of engagement customers are looking for.
Some proof: According to a recent study from Technomic, customers want to see new technology integrated into their dining experiences, especially if it will speed up the process of getting their meal or paying their bill. Half of the study’s respondents said it’s important for restaurants to start using the latest technologies, and they expect to use technology to order food more often.
How to improve in-house engagement
Restaurant operators, the first step is to assess your restaurant’s potential. This means determining how you will encourage customers to engage, how that engagement will provide value to them, and how these techniques will boost profits.
Start by asking these questions: What qualities make our restaurant unique? How can we showcase and leverage them? When are our best selling opportunities? How can we take advantage of them? It can be difficult to answer these questions, because the only accurate way to do so is with hard data. That’s when your POS software can come in handy. With an advanced restaurant management system, you can use its reporting features to analyze your restaurant’s overall performance, strong suits and best selling opportunities.
Once you’ve answered those questions and created a plan, the next step is to determine which technologies are needed to accommodate your plan.
Here are a few examples of restaurant technologies that can improve in-house customer engagement:
Self-service kiosks allow customers to place – and pay for – their own orders. They can enjoy the same convenience of online ordering or delivery while they are in the physical restaurant. Rather than engaging with an employee, they can engage with your menu items and take their time looking through them.
Kiosks are ideal in fast casual or quick service restaurants because they contribute to quick, accurate orders and reduce crowding or bottlenecking. Orders will almost always be correct because customers are inputting them themselves, and they don’t have to wait in line to do so – a benefit for customer service, too. With shorter lines, employees can focus more on delivering valuable person-to-person exchanges rather than keeping things brief to keep the flow of people moving.
Like self-service kiosks, customer-facing screens or displays can be integrated with your existing POS infrastructure to provide more value to your customers. Using these screens, they can browse menu items, prices, ingredients, nutrition information – whatever you choose to put on them. It’s a way for them to become more familiar with your brand and interact with your offerings. Customer-facing displays are easy to deploy; they can be as simple as a touch screen mounted on a counter top.
Customers have come to expect this kind of innovation in their favorite restaurants – to not only make their dining experience more exciting, but also more convenient. It’s important to show them that you’ve recognized their needs.