Three Simple Ways to Increase Use of Restaurant Self-Service Kiosks
Self-service technologies for restaurants have been gaining popularity in recent years, with fast food and quick casual businesses as early adopters. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic amplified labor shortage issues and accelerated a shift in customer preferences for ordering and payment. . Now, even independent and full-service restaurants are realizing the benefits of self-service kiosks.
Kiosks allow patrons to bypass the traditional method of ordering and paying for their food and take control of the processes themselves. And customers respond positively to this increased control and convenience. In one 2019 survey, 65% of customers said they would be more willing to visit a restaurant if self-service kiosks were available. These systems, once viewed as impersonal technologies, have become a cost-effective way to improve customer satisfaction and combat the labor shortage. However, restaurants must make kiosks a part of an overall strategy to improve customer experiences, increase revenues, and operate profitably.
Positioning and User Experience
Part of that strategy is where kiosks will be located and how customers will use them. Restaurant self-service kiosks can be positioned on host stands near the entrance, as standalone devices or near a traditional ordering counter. Some are designed with smaller form factors that can be placed directly on the tables, offering dine-in patrons an even greater level of convenience. Giving the customer time to order from their table at their own pace as opposed to having a line form behind them at a kiosk will reduce their stress level, especially for first-time users. When they can enter their own order specifications and send them directly to the kitchen, accuracy and speed of service are increased, resulting in higher customer satisfaction. Furthermore, they are likely to spend more: ticket sizes, on average, are 12%-20% higher when ordering from a self-service kiosk rather than a cashier, and some restaurants report increases as high as 30%. One reason is that the kiosk will never forget to offer upsell and cross-sell prompts, and when these are presented visually on a touchscreen, they lead to a higher conversion rate increasing the average ticket size.
Training and Support
Some restaurant owners may be concerned about whether patrons with limited tech experience will be able to place their orders accurately and effectively with a restaurant self-service kiosk. You can ensure that your staff is trained to assist patrons and that you have at least one person available to do so, enabling customers of all ages and technology experience levels to utilize the kiosks with ease. Self-checkout lanes in grocery stores usually have an employee nearby to help customers as needed, and one person can monitor several lanes instead of running a single register. This kind of strategic deployment in your restaurant frees other employees from taking orders and running payments, allowing them to focus on other areas, such as food prep, waiting on customers, or busing tables.
Features, Features, Features!
Restaurant self-service kiosks have the potential to enhance restaurant operations beyond the ordering process when they offer features such as:
Customization: Not only can diners customize their orders, but you can customize the display with your branding. Add appealing photos of your menu offerings as well as detailed nutritional and ingredient information for customers. You can also customize the specials, promotions, upselling prompts, and discounts displayed.
Entertainment: Some tabletop kiosks offer interactive entertainment such as games to keep guests occupied while they wait for their food. This feature can be especially important to distract customers if you are experiencing longer than normal food prep times due to labor issues.
Loyalty Program: Enabling patrons to sign up for your loyalty rewards program right on the screen helps them to better understand the benefits and see the rewards they can achieve in real time. Making enrollment easy is one of the best ways to gain members.
Payment Options: Kiosks can accept a variety of payments, and customers gain peace of mind because their credit or debit card never leaves their possession. Kiosks can also efficiently accommodate tasks such as splitting the bill (and in a 2015 survey, 75% of customers rated the ability to split the bill as their most desired self-payment feature). Not having to process transactions by walking back and forth to a stationary point of sale (POS) terminal gives your staff more time to focus on creating the best customer experiences.
Ready to Try Self-Service Technologies?
The self-service kiosk, once considered an optional restaurant technology, is now closer to a must-have. Customers desire convenience and accuracy; and in these times of social distancing and safety concerns, many appreciate reduced human contact. Kiosks may also be crucial to filling gaps created by the labor shortage. According to an April 2021 survey by the National Restaurant Association, 84% of operators said their staffing was lower than required. Self-service technology can help you make the best use of the staff you have while continuing to provide the positive customer experiences that keep your business profitable.