The Role of the Kiosk: Finding Its Rightful Place in Your Restaurant

How Kiosks Can Fulfill the Goal of Giving Every Guest A Great Experience

Kiosks are the talk of the town in the QSR and fast casual world. This shouldn’t come as a surprise really—any discussion of self-service kiosks is bound to bring up a wide range of topics on both the practical (labor costs) and theoretical levels (machines replacing people1).

While these discussions are still relevant, much of the conversation around kiosks can lose sight of the end goal: the guest experience. This is evident when the conversation centers on the consumer demand for kiosks.

For your guests, kiosks are a means to an end, and that end is not the opportunity to interact with another screen. It’s for a fast, easy, and fun experience in your restaurants.

As modern consumers transition between screens all day, the line between digital and analog is blurring. So it’s often not that consumers are craving a more digital experience in your QSRs; they’re just craving a better experience—one that fulfills the founding QSR goals of speed and convenience.

The good news is that kiosks can help you accomplish these goals, but how do you strike the right balance between human and machine so you stay focused on the end goal? Let’s explore how kiosks can fulfill the goal of giving every guest a great experience.

A Better Ordering Process

Waiting in line and placing orders can be one of the biggest sources of friction for QSR guests. Not only do self-service kiosks reduce time spent waiting in line, they also provide a more seamless ordering experience.

When guests place orders at a kiosk, they gain a level of control that gives them the freedom to explore your menu, customize their orders, and see nutritional and caloric information in a way that traditional ordering doesn’t allow.

This also allows QSRs to serve up complementary suggestive selling that’s tailored to a customer’s order. When the suggestive selling process is automated and built on business rules and logic, QSRs can highlight the relevant items that complement the guests’ order. This level of customization is difficult to achieve in the real-time back and forth reality of ordering from a crew member. Also, a kiosk never gets tired of suggestive selling.

With this process, your guests receive a customized recommendation that fits their order, and you can build this logic based on the best high-margin items that drive up average ticket sales. And let’s not forget that order accuracy also improves when guests key in their orders for themselves.

Free to Serve in New Ways

For your guests who have their favorite food already picked out, the ordering process is purely transactional. When this transactional process is outsourced to a kiosk, it can free up your crew to serve customers in new and exciting ways.

Crew members, for example, can serve guests in the dining area, refill drinks, and be available to the needs of your guests in ways they could never be when they were tied to the front counter. And in a competitive landscape, this level of service can be the game-changing difference maker that builds lifelong guest loyalty.

Valuable Data Insights

One of the key differences between a self-service kiosk and traditional ordering is data. When guests interact with kiosks, each keystroke can be tracked, and this provides a wealth of valuable data that can then be used to adjust for the best possible ordering experience.

For example, if a guest struggles to order and gives up and walks to the front counter, the data from their interaction can shine a spotlight on pain points that other guests might encounter.

On another level, guests can also interact with more of your branded content on kiosks and provide valuable marketing insight on the issues and topics that resonate with your audience. Ultimately, kiosks give you and your teams insight into a metric that you were never able to see before.

The Best Experience

As much as a guest might enjoy the improved ordering process on a kiosk, it’s not the technology itself that keeps them coming back. It’s a great overall experience built on speed, accuracy, quality food, consistency, personalization, and human connection.

For example, when the creative team at Pixar started to create the first full-length computer animated film, Toy Story, they knew if they focused just on the cool new technology, they would lose sight of the thing that really keeps people engaged for hours and ready to return for the next Pixar film: a great story2.

That’s why at SICOM we’re focused on helping leading QSR brands and franchisees apply the right technology to help them achieve their goals of providing great guest experiences and growing their business.

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Ryles Dodd
August 1, 2018

Ryles is responsible for all things front of house at SICOM, including point of sale, kiosks, and kitchen displays. Ryles has over 20 years of experience running restaurant technology groups for enterprise quick service brands such as Arby’s, Wendy’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, and The Capital Grille.

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