Jurgen Ketel, Managing Director EMEA, Givex, discusses why kiosks are increasing revenues for restaurant businesses
The best technology is sometimes described thusly: “It’s not the thing – it’s the thing that gets you to the thing.” A computer is only useful if it can let you use a word processor, get on the internet, play games, or undertake whatever other activities you had in mind. A telephone is only interesting because it allows you to have conversations with people. And so on, and so forth.
For most consumer-facing industries, the maxim still applies, though in this case we can also say “it’s the thing that brings the thing to you.”
We’re entering an age where the human employee is doing less of what they used to do, and letting machines pick up the slack. Kiosks are, increasingly, driving purchases at a rate that leads to 20% higher revenues compared to ordering from a human server.
The advantages of using more advanced technology in your restaurants are many and varied. Not all of them are obvious: we might know that Deliveroo lets customers order directly to their houses from restaurants that don’t traditionally offer takeaway options, for example. What we might not know is that apps like these are one part of a rich, data-driven ecosystem that allows us to get more and more information on customer preferences.
So, what are some of the less obvious advantages of using kiosk technology in the modern restaurant?
A comprehensive overhaul of customer experience
Customer experience is one of the main areas where an in-person visit to a restaurant or shop is indisputably better than the app. Instead of a driver wordlessly handing you a delivery bag, the customer gets the benefits of soaking up the atmosphere – ideally with friendly, helpful staff – and a product that isn’t in any danger of getting damaged or lost en route.
Kiosks are one part of this, to be sure. Many customers feel judged when they order an extra side, or a heavy dessert, or purchase ready-made meals at the supermarket. Being able to place this order without interacting with a human server eliminates this problem. But beyond making them comfortable, it’s an opportunity to provide an experience that they could only get with your brand. That means personalising interfaces and it means staff that are unencumbered by the need to manually process orders and are fully focused on their customers.
Greater efficiency and accuracy
When you digitise existing kitchen processes, you have a clear opportunity to drive up efficiency, accuracy, and consistency of experience. Take restaurants for example. By using a kiosk, you can keep orders coming in and queues moving – and with a kitchen display system, those in the back office will have a greater idea of which tables are due meals at which times.
There’s also the very real benefit of reducing errors. When machines take orders from customers, they’re not likely to forget things,, write down the wrong thing, or mix up tables. This maximises customer happiness, minimises wasted staff time and food wastage, and helps you get the most out of your labour force. If the wrong thing arrives, it’ll be because the customer tapped the wrong thing, not because your staff were too busy to give them the right level of service.
Finally, by integrating all of your systems into one – your EPOS, your kiosk, your KDS, and app purchases – you can collect a treasure trove of data about your customers and your staff: giving you the opportunity to better understand how your employees are performing in a high-pressure environment, and to more effectively drive sales.
Data is at the heart of providing an excellent customer experience. It means upgrading your kiosk with interactive features like opinion polls and surveys – allowing customers to leave valuable, direct and unvarnished feedback that allows you to gain deeper insights into their preferences on a macro and individual level.
Not every technology is going to suit the needs of every business, and we shouldn’t expect it to. Nor should we aim to implement all these tools at the expense of other technology like online shopping or delivery apps: strategies should be created that maximise the value we gain from both.
But if we think about what’s wrong with efficiency, customer happiness, overheads and the general experience that’s provided, it’s safe to say that technology can drive improvements in each area. All we have to do is embrace it.