Have you ever wondered what restaurants will look like in the future? While we don’t envision every restaurant being Taco Bell by 2032, as predicted by Sylvester Stallone’s “Demolition Man” (1993), we do see a future where full-service eateries and QSRs have a massive internal network of technology that helps customers have a smooth, efficient, and comfortable dining experience, whether they’re jetting through the drive-thru lane, picking up an order, or sitting down at a table.
That day is already here.
Social distancing, contactless interactions, worker shortages, and a surge in online ordering have driven restaurants — and their patrons — into embracing the latest technologies faster than most people anticipated. The result? Improved customer experience in 2022.
Survey says: Restaurant customers like options. They’re increasingly preferring — and expecting — ways to customize their dining experience to their needs. Thankfully, technology is making that possible while also helping relieve labor shortage issues.
Improved digital signage boosts customers experience
Digital signs aren’t just about displaying a menu board that’s easier to update every month. In fact, if that’s all you’re doing with it, you are seriously underutilizing the power of digital signage.
Don’t just put them behind your counters. Stick them around your restaurant to advertise daily specials, featured items, appetizing videos, and more, and you’ll see your customers’ eyes go right to them. Place them on the outside of your restaurant and draw people in. Use them in your drive-thru lane to help your customers decide what to order. Or go big and install a video wall to turn your dining room into an artwork
Kiosks enhance accuracy and reduce the need for workers
Kiosks may have a reputation for seeming impersonal, but the reality is, most customers are so used to using their smartphone to make orders that operating a self-ordering kiosk is familiar and comfortable. Set up strategically, kiosks can reduce customer wait times, improve order accuracy, boost upselling, and keep your hard-working staff focused on other areas of need.
Self-ordering kiosks come in many shapes and sizes, too. Put them on your counter, mount them to a wall, or order a free-standing one. The versatility of kiosk designs allows you to place them strategically.
Online ordering, meal delivery, and pick-up still leading the way
Restaurant owners take pride in creating a dining room experience that takes customers out of their mundane environments and gives them an enjoyable space to reflect and socialize. But the reality is, even though Americans are returning to dine-in experiences, more of them prefer to eat restaurant meals at home than before the pandemic.
In Dec. 23, 2019, before COVID-19 protocols hit the U.S., 62% of Americans still preferred dine-in over delivery and takeout, according to the 2019 Vixxo Restaurant Survey. Less than two years later, the number of Americans who are more likely to order takeout had skyrocketed 70%, even though most dining rooms in the U.S. had reopened and rigorous safety practices had been put in place.
Having the technology in place to allow and receive online orders in a quick, accurate, and efficient manner has become a make-it-or-break-it for many eateries.
Guest WiFi: Everyone expects it now
Yes, cellphone data speeds and coverage continue to improve, but inside the walls of your restaurant, your patrons can still experience internet speeds too slow or connections too unreliable to get work done on their laptops or show a video to their friends on their smartphone. Poor internet access will lead to fewer regular customers.
But simply providing guest WiFi isn’t enough. It has to be fast and reliable, especially when multiple patrons are connected to it at once. Plus, your guest WiFi and restaurant WiFi may be feeding off the same connection, so your network has to be able to handle that much traffic with ease, otherwise you might find that your guests’ internet usage is hampering the operations of your establishment.
Pay-at-the-Table is more popular than most people realize
Pay-at-the-Table POS systems are rising in popularity. They allow customers to get attention right away, offering upselling opportunities, keeping them entertained while they wait, and allowing them to pay without waiting for someone to hand them the ticket.
Another benefit? In the era of rampant identity theft, many customers prefer not to see their credit card disappear in the hands of a stranger and go out of sight for several minutes before returning.
How to get the tech you need to win in 2022
Do you need help getting the latest customer-facing restaurant tech for your business? Or do you need help with your infrastructure design and installation? Staley Technologies is the experienced partner you need to keep your restaurant up to speed with your competitors. Give our experts a call at (800) 280-9675 or contact us online to see how we can help you better leverage technology in your business.