Today, tech touches almost every aspect of restaurant operations. There are mobile inventory apps that place automatic orders – eliminating 86 risks. Cash registers are old news; digital POS systems are trending. Now, tech is taking over the guest ordering process. The result? Surprisingly, it’s a more personalized experience for the guest.
The customer really is king. Nowadays, they want to eat where they want – and when they want. Ideally, they’d come into your venue for a meal. But it also pays to customize the guest experience outside your four walls. That’s where customer facing ordering technology comes in…
Whether it’s ordering from a restaurant tablet at the table, or placing a to-go order from their Smartphone, show you care about building a bespoke experience for your guests. Here’s how to do it.
Guests Want More Tech on the Menu: 4 Key Reasons Why
Before exploring how customer facing ordering technology could fit into your operation, let’s look at why guests want it so badly.
- It’s Convenient
Whether it’s placing an order from their Smartphone or using a kiosk or tablet to place an order in your venue, guests are all about convenience. In their opinion? Technology delivers. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 79% of today’s guests believe tech – like customer facing ordering technology – makes for a more convenient experience.
In 200 years, customer facing ordering technology may be no big deal. For now, it’s still new and exciting – which is why the same NRA study found that 45% of diners said “it made dining out more fun.”
- It’s a Competitive Advantage
Guests are so eager to use customer facing ordering technology and other digital services that 35% said it will make them choose one restaurant over another. Yes, it’s another stat from the NRA study.
- It Drives Loyalty
Personalization and customization drives guest loyalty. A 2017 Accenture Loyalty Study revealed that 54% of millennials are more loyal to businesses that let them “create something unique to me.” Customer facing ordering technology lets guests plan out their perfect meal.
So, What Exactly is Customer Facing Ordering Technology?
Simply put, it’s a digital system – not a human – that takes the guest’s order.
No worries, robots won’t be running your restaurant.
Yet this customer facing ordering technology delivers key operational benefits while driving up guest satisfaction. Everybody wins. The robots haven’t taken over.
Here are 3 examples of customer facing ordering technology in action, to put your mind at ease.
1) In-Venue Ordering
Many fine dining and casual restaurants are bringing in touch screen tablets. These tablets let guests order from a digital menu – and even securely pay. Here’s proof of just how powerful customer facing ordering technology can be. It creates a customized, personal experience that seriously boost sales.
Olivia and a group of her closest friends are out to dinner in your restaurant. They’re browsing your digital menu on restaurant tablets, preparing to order entrees.
Because customer facing ordering technology on restaurant tablets allows you to include photos of each dish, Olivia spots the juicy chicken wings. She clicks on the photo for a longer description.
“Hey, these are made with locally sourced chicken…and come with a house-made blue cheese. Oh, and the celery is organic. It also says this is their most popular appetizer. Maybe we should order appetizers first?”
With customer facing ordering technology, the guest can explore your menu – on their own terms. Plus, you can fit long descriptions that otherwise wouldn’t make it on your menu. And those descriptions sell. Cornell University found that vivid, lengthy descriptions of menu items lead to a 27% increase in sales for those items.
Wondering where the server was? He was taking care of other tables, since customer facing ordering technology frees up servers to cover more tables. It’s a great way to save on labor costs. When Olivia’s server arrives, he can chat and bond with her party, instead of waiting while the table figures out their game plan.
Customization for Guests Means Increased Sales for You…
Here are 3 more ways that customer facing ordering technology can benefit you – and your guests:
- Impulse Buys: Since guests don’t have to wait on a server, they’ll be more likely to order that next round before changing their minds. Olivia and her friends loved those chicken wings so much, they ate them in 7 minutes – and quickly ordered another round.
- Specials: Customers may have been planning to order a specific dish when they sat down. But, by placing a picture of today’s special on your customer facing ordering technology, they may be tempted to add that item to their order.
- Quick Order: Customers can place orders right away, reducing the chances that they’ll forget to order that extra side or dessert they’ve been eyeing.
How to Try In-Venue Customer Facing Ordering Technology
- Many POS systems now include mobile tablets that let servers take digital orders. But you want to look for tablets with customer facing ordering technology.
- If you just want tablets to showcase your menu, try software like iMenuTech. But to truly let guests customize their experience with you, give them the power to place orders as well.
- Try Buzztime restaurant tablets. With 30 years of experience in the bar and restaurant business, they offer customer facing ordering technology and even secure self-payment on handheld tablets. These tablets also give guests access to digital games and trivia.
2) Online Ordering
Adam is a busy father of 3. He’s about to leave the office, and wants to bring dinner home to his family. Like 81% of restaurant patrons, he checks your website.
Instead of viewing your menu, then writing down a long order (his daughter is allergic to wheat, his wife is a vegetarian), he uses customer facing ordering technology.
Adam spends 10 minutes customizing his order on your website, confirms it, and hits send. Adam just saved your host 10 minutes of taking down a complicated order – which would have been easy to mix up.
Adam isn’t alone in preferring customer facing ordering technology.
According to a study by Fast Casual, 93 percent of guests placing an order for a family or group prefer online customer facing ordering technology – instead of a phone call.
Don’t Forget About Delivery!
What if Adam was in a really big rush? If your restaurant could help him out by delivering food to his family’s doorstep, you’d be a hero. There are many affordable, 3rd party delivery services that can integrate with your customer facing ordering technology and POS system.
How to Try Online Customer Facing Ordering Technology
- First, talk to your POS system provider. Many modern POS systems – like Toast POS – include software and apps that integrate directly into your website.
- If your POS system doesn’t offer customer facing ordering technology for your website? No problem. Just check out these steps to get your website set up with the right system.
- In addition to ordering from your website, many guests use 3rd party customer facing ordering technology on websites and apps – like GrubHub. In 2017, GrubHub announced integrations with top POS systems like Oracle’s Micros, Toast, and Breadcrumb. When you update your menu on your POS system, your menu items will automatically be updated at GrubHub.com.
3) Mobile Ordering
It’s similar to online ordering, but with a mobile twist. Mobile customer facing ordering technology caters to the Smartphone carrying crowd. Today, that’s nearly 75% of American adults.
With mobile ordering, your customers can place an order any time…anywhere…from your restaurant’s app. This means more orders for your restaurant, even when the dining room is at capacity.
Picture Zach, a college student studying for finals. He’s seriously hungry – and so are his roommates. He pulls up your restaurant’s app on his phone, finds his “usual” order and hits “resend my order.” Talk about a customized experience! It’s like your restaurant remembered exactly what he wanted (5 subs and an order of that antipasti salad). But it was the customer facing ordering technology at work.
One of the key advantages of creating a mobile app that includes customer facing ordering technology? Your restaurant’s logo appears on the guest’s phone. It’s like 24/7 mini billboard. Plus, you can send “push notifications,” alerting guests of specials. A push notification sends an alert to the Smartphone user, and studies show that an impressive 98% of push notifications are opened.
You can even integrate your mobile customer facing ordering technology with your loyalty program. That’s where the magic happens. Customers can easily track how many points they earn, and may be incentivized to order more so they can reach a certain loyalty program status or prize.
How to Try Mobile Customer Facing Ordering Technology
- Again, your POS system provider may be able to help with a turnkey solution.
- Don’t be intimidated by the thought of creating your own app. It’s more affordable than ever with DIY app makers like AppiePie and
Technology is a powerful tool for restaurants. With the right POS system, you can streamline sales. With the right inventory software you can reduce waste and increase profits. And with the right customer facing ordering technology, you can let guests customize their experience while boosting your bottom line.
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Trusted by thousands of bars and restaurants in North America since 1984, Buzztime integrates trivia, card, sports games and live events with innovative tablet technology. While we don’t take ourselves too seriously, this is pretty serious business.