Kiosks Coming to a Restaurant Near You
This article originally appeared in Volume 2, Issue 3 of <theScript> Quarterly digital magazine.
As technology becomes more commonplace in everyday life, it’s making its way into places we frequent. And it’s completely changing the customer experience in the restaurant industry.
On July 26, fast-food giant McDonald’s introduced a new model of customer service with the launch of “Global McDelivery Day.” McDonald’s is now providing door-to-door service from 7,800 of its restaurants in 47 countries — 4,200 of them in partnership with UberEATS.
And that’s just the latest development in the digital transformation overtaking the restaurant industry.
In March, McDonald’s announced it would optimize its customer experience through in-store kiosks, food delivery, a mobile app and curbside pickup. The rebranding effort is dubbed “Experience of the Future” and indeed sets up the company to be successful in the future. McDonald’s expects to install kiosks in 2,500 of its stores nationwide by the end of the year.
Repositioning vs. replacing
Intended to eliminate human error, not replace employees, these kiosks allow for customized ordering and self-pay, freeing workers to perform other important jobs in the restaurants. One such job is food delivery to customer tables, enhancing the customer experience even more. Another is delivery to people in vehicles who skipped the drive-thru line by ordering via the mobile app.
Sales have already increased at stores outside the United States where kiosks have been installed. And sales are expected to increase 5–6% in the first year at stores showcasing the machines.
Hamburger restaurant Wendy’s is implementing a similar initiative and plans to deploy kiosks to 1,000 of its restaurants by the end of 2017. Wendy’s also intends to automate repetitive tasks, such as making hamburgers, in its kitchens.
Panera Bread pioneered restaurant ordering kiosks in 2015, freeing customers to personalize their orders and skip the line. The digital technology has been so successful that Panera has hired additional employees to handle the influx of orders resulting from the self-serve kiosks and a mobile app.
Stepping up their game
Not to be left out of the digital age, sit-down eateries are embracing restaurant technology to stay relevant to patrons today, too. Many, such as Red Robin, are pushing order-ahead incentives that encourage use of the chain’s mobile app to order food for pickup. Others, including Red Robin, Chili’s and Olive Garden, feature touch-screen kiosks on each table that allow customers to order drink refills and self-pay for their meals.
Restaurants in Canada are taking service up a notch with a device affectionately referred to as “the machine.” It’s a portable, self-pay unit the wait staff can take to a table when a customer wants to pay for the meal via credit card. This machine offers two major advantages:
It safeguards personal data by keeping credit cards in sight of their owners. The wait staff puts the card in the machine while the customer watches. The customer is then prompted to enter further information regarding a tip. The device prints a receipt for the customer to sign and one to take, if so desired.
If you ever go out to a restaurant with a group of friends or co-workers and you all want separate checks, this machine makes it easy for one waiter to handle all of the payments without trying to remember whose credit card goes with which face or seat. The waiter simply takes the machine from customer to customer around the table until all of the payments have been made.
The key to success
Modern restaurant technology is made possible — and effective — by unified branch infrastructure. Connecting each branch location, this type of foundation enables a seamless customer experience from one branch or store location to the next — regardless of the device used.
Whether on premises or in the cloud, a unified branch infrastructure provides security, consistency and insight into the business. And it makes for an engaging, enjoyable customer experience.
Be on the lookout. If you haven’t seen them yet, kiosks will be coming to a restaurant near you.