These days technology affects every area of our lives and that includes the restaurants we eat in. Used correctly in a restaurant, technology can greatly improve a customer’s experience. And in many ways, it makes the restaurant more profitable. You’ve probably spotted some of the ways technology is used in eateries, but some of them may surprise you.
What is Technology in Restaurants: Tools and devices used in restaurants and cafes to make the business more efficient, increase profits, and improve the customer experience.
1. Menu Technology
Electronic menus can be used in a restaurant in several ways depending on the type of restaurant. Fact-food joints like MacDonald’s are now using self-order touch-screen stations or kiosks so customers can order their food without the help of a staff member. In other restaurants and cafes, customers are seated and then presented with an electronic menu that looks like an iPad. The diners can then scroll through the screens to find the items they want to order. Some restaurants bring their menu right to your Smartphone where you can place your order.
Advantages: e-Menus make it faster to order, and restaurants need fewer staff members.
Disadvantages: Unless e-menus are combined with tableside servers, you can lose that personal touch. Also, customers will have a hard time asking questions about the menu or requesting changes to their orders.
2. Payment Technology
Being able to get the check fast, pay, and leave the restaurant quickly after a meal is very important to customers. Many restaurants are introducing their own apps so they can bill their customers directly from their Smartphones. And in addition, customers can often pay their restaurant bills with mobile payment apps like Apple Pay, Venmo, and Google Pay.
Advantages: Fast easy payment.
Disadvantages: This option will only suit tech-savvy diners.
3. Restaurant Chairs and Technology
Obviously, the longer customers stay in a restaurant the more they will order. But no one wants to sit on an uncomfortable chair. One way of getting customers to linger is to provide comfortable restaurant chairs. Technology is being used to design ergonomic chairs for restaurants. Ergonomic chairs are specifically designed to be comfortable and efficient. Although you normally hear about ergonomic chairs for offices, now they are being used in restaurants. They are made to fit the inward curve of your lower back. Often these chairs will also have a scooped seat for maximum comfort, armrests, and a high backrest.
Advantage: Extra comfort for your customers.
Disadvantages: These chairs are usually more pricey than regular restaurant chairs.
4. Smart Wear for Servers
Front-of-service staff in restaurants are using Smartwatches to communicate efficiently and provide better service. For example, the waiter could be notified by the chef of a menu change, via a Smartwatch, and immediately inform customers. This quick, easy method of sharing information between staff also helps with registering complaints, bookings, and to change orders. Of course, there is also an electronic booking system, and computerized seat plans.
Advantages: Fast, efficient communication.
Disadvantages: You still need to rely on your staff to check their Smartwatch notifications.
5. Automated Restaurants
Some restaurants are completely (or almost completely) unstaffed. Instead, there are machines that do everything. Customers can read the menu from an e-menu online, on their Smartphones, or on a screen. Then they can place their order through a touchscreen. And collect their food from a hatch, conveyer belt, or vending machine.
Advantages: Higher profits for the restaurant owners who have less staff to pay, and lower prices for the customers.
Disadvantages: No human interaction. A sterile, cold environment. And it is extremely difficult to fix any misunderstood orders or accommodate any special menu requests from customers.
Should Restaurants Use Technology?
Restaurants should use technology if they can do so without intruding on the customer-staff relationship. You can’t replace customer service with a machine, but you can use technology to improve it. It also depends a lot on the type of restaurant. For a fast-food restaurant, self-service booths, and R2D2 servers may be appropriate. But high-end restaurants will not be sacrificing their one-on-one customer service any time soon. We haven’t seen the last of traditional service although restaurants will be introducing more and more technology to their dining rooms in the future.