Restaurant Hospitality recently circulated a report published by Technomic that identified 10 trends they believe will significantly affect the restaurant industry over the next year. Trend #9 on the Technomic report discusses integrating technology in restaurant ordering and service, which reminded me of a blog post from earlier this year about how to successfully introduce new technology in your restaurant while keeping a high level of customer service. Technomic says that technology can be used to streamline the ordering process for customers wanting a customized meal. One way to do this is to integrate an ordering system that can be used by the customer through their own mobile device.
9. For fast service, bring your own device. The fast-casual service model has hit a hiccup: customers specifying every ingredient in their burrito or sandwich make for a slow-service line. Operators in every segment are finding new ways to use technology for faster, more accurate ordering. iPad orders placed tableside will be a point of differentiation for a few tech leaders, but we’ll primarily see a bring-your-own-device system of advance and inside-the-restaurant ordering—as well as more customer feedback and interactive conversations. In the back of the house, increased use of iPad communication will make new menu items easier to roll out. (Restaurant Hospitality)
This trend could be a “win-win” for both restaurants and customers. As mentioned in the article, having this technology in restaurant ordering could be extremely useful for the back of house, especially if your staff is not used to customizing orders for customers. The fewer channels an order has to go through, the better chance there will not be a mistake made. It can also streamline the back of house operations and get orders out of the kitchen faster than ever.
This type of ordering would also be beneficial to the customers. They will have the opportunity to customize their order and take their time ordering it without feeling the pressure of standing in a line and having to make a decision quickly. Depending on the functionality of the ordering system, customers could save favorite orders, read reviews from other customers or even write their own reviews. Even though they are not having a face-to-face interaction, the interaction with their mobile device is a touch point that cannot be disregarded.
You might think you will be losing an important point of contact with the customer if you decide to use this technology, but you could also be gaining a more in depth interaction. Even though this interaction is not face to face, the engagement with the application could make up for it and then some. With mobile ordering technology you can ask for feedback, send messages and promotions, or even have open dialogue with customers. This is great because the customer will feel they have a place to voice their opinion of the restaurant and the restaurant can gain valuable feedback and insights from true customers.
Even though an order is placed on a mobile device, we can’t forget that there will still be an in person interaction: when the customer receives their food. If a mobile ordering system is put in place, it is important for the employee delivering the food to be fully trained in customer service.
At the end of the day, any technology integration that will help your operation become more efficient is definitely a win, but don’t forget about the customer. Make sure that all interactions, mobile and in person, meets your restaurant’ standards and will keep the customers experience positive so that they will want to come back.