Using technology to boost customer service

Restaurant owners are increasingly looking to the world of technology and mobile communications to find ways to attract and retain customers. From tabletop checkouts to online ordering systems, these innovations increase the speed of service, boosting the number of covers that can be dealt with.

Reducing the time it takes for customers to get to their table, order their food and pay their bill has always been key to the success of any restaurant. The minutes saved not only reduce potential frustration but also allow more customers to be served during the same time period, increasing profits.

For restaurants that don’t take reservations, busy periods can be chaotic with large numbers of customers having to crowd around the entrance to ensure they don’t miss their name being called out when a table becomes available. Pager systems make this entire process far more efficient by allowing customers to spread out over a wider area without fear of losing their place in the queue.

Menu boards

Although customers can also be informed using text messages, this method is more labour intensive and less reliable. Numbers have to be taken and checked and any disruption to the network or signal strength can lead to delays in tables being assigned. Pagers are more reliable and come in a variety of sizes, colours and designs, adding an element of fun to the dining experience.

Technology can also help pass the time for those diners who are waiting to be seated. Digital menu boards not only ease the task of adding specials or changing prices but can also be used to provide entertainment and useful information to customers in the waiting area.

When it comes to ordering, fast food restaurants and particularly pizza parlours have taken the lead in innovation, producing apps that allow customers to make their selections with ease. Other restaurants are experimenting with self-service kiosks that make it possible to skip queues and place orders directly with the kitchen.

Card readers

A major source of frustration for diners is waiting to catch the eye of a member of waiting staff when they have finished their meal and wish to leave. The use of mobile card readers has proved extremely popular as it not only speeds up such transactions but also removes the need for waiting staff to take a customer’s credit card away from them, eliminating any concerns about fraud.

The next development is likely to see the introduction of self-service checkouts where customers have access to keypads at their tables and can either order additional items or settle their bills without having to wait for a member of staff to take their payment.

In challenging economic times, increasing the level of customer satisfaction is an excellent way of ensuring repeat business and therefore maintaining profitability. Taking full advantage of the wide range of technological innovations available to the restaurant trade can be of great assistance when it comes to achieving this goal.

Peter Smith writes regularly on technological innovations such as online ordering and pager systems for a number of catering-related blogs and websites. A huge fan of Italian, French and Greek cuisine, Smith enjoys assessing the food in the restaurants he visits almost as much as he enjoys assessing their technological requirements.

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