When someone walks into a restaurant, it’s the smell of the food and the atmosphere that make that all-important first impression. The welcoming smile of staff and the prompt attention of a host or hostess is likely next. Following that, of course, is the service surrounding the meal itself.
But no single factor affects how a customer feels about their restaurant experience as much as the quality of the food itself.
No one has ever pulled up Foursquare or Yelp to brag about the incredibly efficient cash register at the diner where they just had lunch. No one is going to snap a quick Instagram picture of the super-cool touchscreen console the chef was using to keep orders organized. Those are behind-the-scenes minutia that (hopefully) are barely noticeable in the overall experience.
But, for restaurant owners and staff, this technological infrastructure can either help or hurt the overall experience the customer does remember. So, for them, leveraging technology is an important consideration.
Improving the ordering and billing process
The ordering and fulfillment process at a restaurant can be fraught with human error. Between the waiter mishearing or misunderstanding the customer’s order, to writing it down wrong, to relaying it incorrectly to the kitchen, to the cooks making a mistake in preparation, to… well, you get the idea.
Even if the resulting food is delicious, the customer is going to be upset because it’s not exactly what they ordered.
Likewise, the resulting bill could spark disappointment if errors are made there as well. And since the waiter is usually responsible to enter the billing information, process the credit card or make change for cash, and they’re doing this for multiple customers at once, errors often occur at this stage too.
Enter tablet-based mobile technology designed to bring all these disparate areas together into one seamless, integrated process that eliminates nearly every window for human error.
TouchBistro is a leader in the restaurant point-of-service (POS) app industry. Their POS system for the iPad integrates ordering, kitchen order processing, and billing into one app that one restaurant owner stated, “can be taught to new staff members in under half an hour.”
As you read through customer feedback regarding the system, it’s hard to miss the fact that this simple but elegant technology tool has had a huge impact on the speed, efficiency, and quality of the service these restaurants offer. And, by extension, on the satisfaction of their customers.
Improving how the food is prepared
Behind kitchen doors, technology is playing a huge role in improving the customer’s experience as well. While fresh ingredients and talented cooks and chefs will always be key factors in the quality of the food the restaurant serves, the equipment that’s used also plays a part.
In 2014, the National Restaurant Association (NRA)’s Kitchen Innovation Awards winners “included combination ovens that saved energy and reduced cook times by as much as 20 percent, ice machines that sanitized themselves with ultraviolet light oxidation, and dishwasher technology that reduced water use and sped up drying times.”
These technologies help restaurants remain competitive without sacrificing food quality or the quality of the experience offered to customers. As noted by Senior VP of the NRA’s research and knowledge group, B. Hudson Riehle, the challenge for restaurant operators is “to remain high touch in a high tech environment.”