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Tech Is The Way Forward For Restaurant Success

There’s one thing for sure coming out of the NRA show, everyone is re-evaluating how to manage guest expectations – how to match them and meet them.

David “Rev” Ciancio, Tim McLaughlin & Johann Moonesinghe covered a lot of ground; i.e., how guest expectations have changed since the pandemic; how that impacts restaurants and how operators’ response is impacting their guests.

Restaurants are having a pretty massive evolution – NRA show was incredibly tech oriented -Everyone is re-evaluating how they manage their guest journey.

Here’s a rundown of the questions and a few key takeaways. Check out the video. It’s an easy listen and you’ll learn a lot.

What is the most significant change in guest expectation since the pandemic?

  • Adoption of technology and customer expectation that they don’t need to wait to order or pay.
  • QRs went from a totally unacceptable technology to pretty much here to stay.
  • Expectations have been set in a new way- QRs that don’t do anything other than share a PDF are a net dis-satisfier. Guests expect to be able to control their experience using tech.

What is the lowest hanging fruit to improve efficiency of the guest experience?

  • Not forcing people to leave or stop their experience to place an order or get what they want. Giving them control through tech yields a 2 to 3x increase, particularly in large dining or entertainment venues.
  • Communication- 2-way communication via SMS is a game changer for service-focused restaurants (on-premises or off-premises); you should be able to trace every order back to a number that connects to a real person. Because instead of assuming the “Happy Path” for every order, you need to acknowledge that something is always going to go wrong, and you need to be able to respond to when it does.

What are some examples of broken guest journeys?

  • Gift cards that only work at POS, they don’t work online. That’s just not acceptable. Just because you have a different online ordering system and different POS, that’s not an excuse to inconvenience the guest.
  • Expectation Setting- On GoTab we tell the guest how long their order is going to take. If you were interacting with a server, they’d steer you to an option that fits your time. Why not expect the same from your restaurant tech platform?

What is the “Tech Stack” of the future?

  • Traditionally the POS was the foundation of the restaurant tech stack. Those days are gone.
  • From a guest standpoint, the phone should be viewed as the center.
  • When you start from the mobile phone, the next logical place is the CRM
  • With a CRM you get to know your guests more intimately. What they’re ordering. How to communicate with them. But that’s only if they use their phone in-venue.
  • Most restaurants generate the majority of their revenue in-venue but know less about them than they do the people who order online.
  • Enabling mobile ordering for dine-in will help you start to understand your customer better.

How do you design products to enable the guest experience?

  • Try not to be everything to everybody; restaurants have had to become sophisticated in their use of technology, to be able to get everything they need in one system.
  • inKind is great at funding restaurants, then partnering with the system of the restaurant so that the guest has a seamless experience. For example, guests using a house account can pay with GoTab.

How do you see technology being useful in higher end restaurants?

  • There are no high-end restaurants who put a QR on the table. But some of their customers would like it. We see a scenario where you can open a tab with a text message that allows the guest to pay without having to wait for a server. Paying is the worst part of the experience. Why make a guest wait around for that?
  • Another area is improvements in the kitchen. There is a lot of room for technical optimization- using kitchen displays for example- to help improve communication inside the kitchen.
  • Taking the kitchen management process away from the verbal to more predictive modeling of timing, queuing, etc. can result in as much as 30 percent efficiency gain in the kitchen and 50 percent on food running. Allow the system to do what it does best, which is sorting and batching information.
  • At a high-end restaurant, the chef should be spending time on the floor connecting with customers. Technology that allows the chef to be more efficient lets them get that face-time.
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