Are kiosks worth it for your restaurant?

RestoConnection discusses the benefits and challenges of installing self-service kiosks.

Self-order kiosks are on the rise in restaurants across the UK. This means an increasing number of customers are becoming familiar with using kiosks to place orders quickly and efficiently when dining out. If you’re considering installing them in your restaurant it’s important to look at both the benefits and the drawbacks before deciding if a kiosk will enhance your business.

A self-service kiosk will integrate directly with your EPOS, providing you with a seamless way for customers to place orders in-store without the need for a cashier. 

Benefits of Kiosks
1. They Increase Efficiency
One of the great things about kiosks is that they give you the opportunity to focus on other areas of the customer experience. They should free up a significant amount of time so you can allocate resources to other aspects of the business. This could result in orders being fulfilled more quickly, or tables being cleared faster, ready for the next customer.

McDonald's is a great example of a chain that’s consistently adding more self-service points but making no layoffs. Instead, they are allocating cashiers to different parts of the business, like table service.

2. They Reduce Queues
Kiosks are generally very quick to use and you can set-up multiple kiosks depending on the demand in your restaurant. This can drastically reduce typical queue times, and as a result, increase customer satisfaction.

Kiosks can also be used for reservations and queue management in busy restaurants where customers are willing to wait for a table. If customers can see exactly where they are in a queue, they tend to be more patient and understanding.

Drinks dispenser kiosks are another example of this, allowing the customer to return back and purchase another drink without the need for queuing and paying first.

3. They Increase Order Value
When customers place orders via a self-service point this can often eliminate embarrassment around ordering certain items.

A Florida based McDonald’s restaurant experienced a 30% increase in the average order spend when customers used kiosks. It seems to be true, that customers will order more food, (as well as more items that are difficult to pronounce) when they use self-service.

This is one of the driving factors behind McDonalds decision to increase self-service points so rapidly. McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said: “What we’re finding is when people dwell more, they select more. So there’s a little bit of an average check boost.” That could be as much as 5-6% the first year”

4. They Give the Customer Complete control
When a customer places an order using a kiosk it gives them complete control, usually reducing mistakes. The customer can clearly see the final order listed in front of them before paying. There is no opportunity for incorrect order items due to mispronunciation from customer to staff member.

5. They are Better at Upselling
A kiosk will never forget to upsell, plus the type of upsell items can be better targeted based on the menu items added to the basket. 

The Challenges of Self-Service Kiosks
1. They Can be Intimidating

Some customers don’t appreciate having to place the order themselves. A self-service kiosk is after all still ‘self-service’ and that means the customer needs to do some of the work. Certain groups of customers might feel uncomfortable using technology, particularly if they are not accustomed to it.

The best way to address this is to make sure the kiosk is as simple as possible to use, as well as visually inviting. It needs to be clear just by looking at the screen, what the customer needs to do.

There will always be customers who prefer a friendly face when they place an order. The question is, will they prefer their experience if it’s quicker and more efficient overall? Self-service technology is not without challenges, but as a whole, there seem to be a host of benefits that should outweigh this. 

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSRMedia UK. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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