Self-ordering kiosks are no longer a nice to have - they can transform your restaurant

By Denise Bramhall

Put yourself in the shoes of a shift manager running a busy fast food restaurant on a Friday night.

You already know that the restaurant and drive-thru will be busy for evening service as people celebrate the end of the working week with a night off cooking dinner. But no one told you about the pop festival happening up the road and the classic car convention taking place next door.

Soon you are facing an army of hungry concert-goers and motoring enthusiasts all wanting their food fast. Traditionally, you’d have hit the phones to try and rustle up some staff to come in on their day off to help out.

Now, however, you have a new employee willing and able to take up the load straight away - the self-service restaurant kiosk.

Help yourself

At Fingermark™, we have helped restaurant chains install smart, touch-screen kiosks all over the world and seen how they can revolutionise customer service and improve the efficiency of a restaurant operation.

Kiosks are quick and convenient for customers to use, let you increase the value of orders through clever menu design and personalised options, and allow you to gather precious data that can inform your whole operation. You can also more efficiently deploy labour, letting kiosks do their share of the up-front ordering, while counter and kitchen staff focus on delivering the best dining experience possible.

Quick service restaurants are increasingly designing their restaurant fitouts to prioritise kiosks as the first point of order because consumers are demanding them. Surveys of diners show that around 60% say they are more likely to visit a restaurant if kiosks are an ordering option.

The millennial’s preference

The biggest benefit identified by customers is the ability to easily customise an order, followed by having a more visual representation of the menu items on offer and the ability to easily view specials and discounts.

Younger diners in particular opt for kiosks over counter service, preferring the user experience they are familiar with via smartphone and web apps and comfortable as they are with cashless payments.

This is why McDonald’s made the call in 2018 to have self-service kiosks installed at all of its 14,000 outlets across the US by 2020. Go into any McDonald’s restaurant in Australia and New Zealand and you’ll see kiosks prominently on display as you walk in.

Fingermark™ self-service kiosks are powered by user-friendly technology, cloud-based software and are easy to update and maintain remotely. Kiosks are a strategic investment for any restaurant owner looking to boost sales and customer satisfaction.

The concept extends to the drive thru and the digital menu boards that greet diners as they approach the drive thru. Digital screens no longer just display what's on the menu, but can give prompts directing customers to the fastest way to get their food, such as heading for a self-service kiosk, ordering through the app or hitting the drive thru lane.

Bringing it all together is EyeCue™, our drive thru customer journey system, which uses digital cameras and artificial intelligence to track a customer’s journey through the entire drive thru, helping restaurant staff overcome bottlenecks, reduce wait times and maximise sales by getting food to customers faster.

Despite fears of machines replacing humans, the rise of the self-service kiosk hasn’t meant major reductions in staff levels. What it has done is allow staff to be deployed where they are most needed, improving the experience for customers.

Integrating kiosks into restaurant operations requires careful planning and change management but is a journey every quick service restaurant should be on or at least considering.

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