Adding ordering and payment options through self-service kiosks can bring new benefits to your restaurant. But are the current systems a good fit for the customer experience you are trying to create?
Before investing in self-service POS, you’ll need to decide whether or not a kiosk ordering system fits your brand. Ignoring the drawbacks could lead to a difficult transition period or even lost business if you and your team are not prepared.
Does a Kiosk Fit Your Brand?
Benefits of a Kiosk System
1) Upgrade Your Customer Experience
Kiosk systems, like any new restaurant technology, are designed to improve your restaurant’s guest experience. Easy access to detailed menu information in an interactive format makes the customer experience more convenient. The time saved with these ordering systems shows guests that you are actively trying to improve their visit, which promotes customer loyalty and retention.
2) Increased Cost Per Order through Customization
McDonalds and other chain restaurants have found that self-service apps and kiosks also lead customers to spend more money through customization. In February, Taco Bell announced that the ability to add extra ingredients was making orders through their new application 20% more expensive than orders through human cashiers. Self-service POS systems at Chili’s and theater chain Cinemark led to similar increases.
3) Quicker Turnover for Customers and Menu Items
Empowering customers to order through a kiosk will speed up ordering, as well as overall restaurant turnover. Even if the customized orders take longer to prepare, the time saved by instantly sending a customer’s order to the kitchen – combined with increased revenue through extra ingredients – will benefit the restaurant in the long run.
Similarly, committing to a digital interface will allow you to change out menu items, and even individual ingredients, in moments. Abandoning paper menus means that chefs, managers, and bartenders can make as many updates as they want without costly reprintings.
4) More Efficient Operations
The technology that powers restaurant kiosks allows restaurateurs to streamline many other aspects of their operations. Kiosk Marketplace notes that these applications can include credit card processing at the table, email sign-ups for customer loyalty programs, purchasing gift cards and even accepting job applications. Providing these services through an intuitive system allows both guests and staff to accomplish multiple tasks from a single point of entry, which adds to the user experience and customer satisfaction.
Drawbacks of a Kiosk System
1) Less Human Contact
One reason that restaurateurs have been hesitant to join the kiosk bandwagon is the uncertainty inherent in replacing the personal interaction between servers and guests with technology.
DineAbility says that kiosks will probably bring about the end of in-person table service as we know it. While some customers would rather speak to a server – or prefer not to use technology during their meal – most will embrace the role of the kiosk, forcing servers’ roles to evolve.
2) Efficiency Leads to Customer Indifference
As the waitstaff’s place in your restaurant changes, customer impressions of your restaurant can be affected by new technology as well.
Less personal interaction could devalue the effort that goes into both the food and the restaurant experience in the customer’s mind – even if your operations are more efficient and customer-centric than ever.
“A lot of these technologies are designed to basically obscure work from customers. In order to make them feel comfortable using an automated technology, we try to make it look as easy and fast and seamless as possible,” said Harvard Business School assistant professor Ryan Buell. (Buell studies the intersection of operations and customer behavior, and discussed the impact of kiosks with Harvard Business Review.) “In doing that, we strip away the customer’s view of the effort that is going on behind the scenes. When customers aren’t able to see that effort, they appreciate the service that’s being delivered less, and they value the service less as a consequence.”
3) Generation Gap
New technology in the restaurant only appears if the dining public is willing to accept it. The good news for restaurateurs is that younger generations are overwhelmingly willing to let kiosks and other digital devices into their restaurant experience – especially Millennials who have grown up with modern technology. The bad news, however, is that older generations are less interested.
This infographic from QSR Web breaks down the generational preferences in more detail:
Kiosks are becoming more ubiquitous and, over time, will become more intuitive and easier to use. While the technology may not yet fit your restaurant’s brand, expect to see more glowing screens in a dining establishment near you soon.