Although many industries have readily embraced technology, restaurants have been a bit late to the party. That said, they are catching up quickly as they realize the benefits for their customers and in their ability to deliver service.
For example, Panera has spent $42 million on “eliminating friction points” to create a better customer experience – including reducing the number of lines that people need to stand in to order (sometimes up to four!). The popular quick dining restaurant isn’t alone. Chili’s is using computerized ovens and infrared technology, as well as tableside tablets for ordering desserts and alcoholic drinks, and Applebee’s is experimenting with online ordering and tablet payment systems.
Expedite, satisfy, serve. No matter what type of technology is being used, the goal is the same – helping to expedite the customer experience and increasing overall satisfaction. Chili’s tableside tablets are provided by Ziosk in exchange for a monthly service fee per tablet across the franchise. In addition to ordering capabilities, the Ziosk tablets also provide games and ask customer service questions so that Chili’s can improve the experience. These tablets can read coupons or also post to social media on behalf of the customers.
Similarly, Panera’s ordering kiosks provide the customers with many different options. They can add or subtract ingredients to their orders, save preferences for their next visit and swipe credit cards before picking up their meals at the counter. The result is one stop at the kiosk and one at the pickup counter – rather than multiple lines.
Now, to deliver. However, when it comes to technology, it isn’t always easy to deliver. For every app and device involved, there’s a risk that it won’t work properly. Customers can quickly become annoyed and frustrated instead of satisfied. There are multiple potential upsides, but the execution can be a challenge. If restaurant franchises can manage the switch smoothly, and keep the technology working right, the entire industry could look drastically different in the future.