Skip to main content

The Future of The Kiosk

Kiosks can help drive greater employee and customer satisfaction. Here’s how.
a woman standing in front of kiosk
With persistent labor shortages making it difficult to provide quality service, kiosks can help plug gaps while presenting new opportunities for personalized customer experiences.
Advertisement - article continues below

Many restaurant leaders have bought into the future of the kiosk, with major brands like McDonald’s and Taco Bell embracing kiosks as a way to streamline the ordering process. The latter has even experimented with all-digital locations.

However, other restaurant leaders view the kiosk as not being worth the expense and hassle of implementing.

While kiosks aren’t a perfect fit for every brand, restaurant leaders who write them off do themselves a disservice. With persistent labor shortages making it difficult to provide quality service, kiosks can help plug gaps while presenting new opportunities for personalized customer experiences. But to take advantage of the value kiosks can offer, you must ensure they are seamlessly integrated with the rest of your tech stack — and position them as benefits to employees, not replacements.

What sets kiosks apart from other ordering options?

Many restaurant leaders think they have all their bases covered when it comes to ordering options. Their digital menus display products, and mobile ordering allows customers more control over how they order — so why bring kiosks into the mix?

In reality, kiosks are the perfect middle ground between digital menus and mobile ordering. Unlike digital menu boards, which can only present a limited amount of information, kiosks give restaurants more space to display products and encourage customers to interact with the menu. Not only do kiosks enable restaurants to nudge customers toward specific products, the data they gather from these kiosks can help provide increasingly personalized recommendations. For example, if customers in a certain region generally prefer spicier foods, you can reflect that in the kiosk’s layout. Or if a customer orders breakfast items often, the kiosk can recommend a side of hash browns or a coffee in a future order.

Moreover, kiosks give customers who value the in-person dining experience the ability to control the ordering experience, the same way they can when using a mobile app. While mobile customers value speed and efficiency in the checkout process, customers ordering in physical restaurants are much more open to discovering new product offerings. Because kiosks allow customers to interact directly with the menu, they’re the perfect format to seed upsell opportunities.

Data-driven, timely product recommendations can pay dividends in improving the customer experience — and also offset another misconception related to kiosks: high costs. While it’s true that kiosk hardware is expensive, their significant ROI means you’ll be able to expand your kiosk footprint over time without breaking the bank. Additionally, options exist to pay kiosks off over time instead of committing to a steep up-front investment.

With labor concerns making it difficult to hire, kiosks can alleviate some of the burden off your existing employees. Many are stretched thin as-is and don’t have the bandwidth to offer customers the best experience possible. But kiosks can shorten the lines these employees have to deal with and assist both front-of-house and back-of-house employees. Front-of-house employees can engage more directly with guests, while back-of-house employees can help expedite the time it takes drive-through customers to receive their orders.


How to make your kiosk experiment a successful one

Intelligent kiosks offer tremendous benefits for restaurants looking to streamline the ordering process. However, implementing and maintaining kiosks in your restaurants can be a time-intensive, nuanced endeavor. If handled incorrectly, kiosks can cause unnecessary confusion for customers and leave your employees having to remedy these problems. To see success, you have to make kiosks intuitive and seamless for any customer to use.

Here are three main aspects of kiosk implementation that can influence their effectiveness:

  1. User experience

The user experience and design of a kiosk is perhaps the biggest contributing factor to its success. The UX thought process should begin with where the kiosk is located in the restaurant. Is it directly in someone’s line of sight as they walk into the restaurant or is it hidden away in a corner?

On the kiosk itself, the goal should be for each action to be as unambiguous as possible. For example, a kiosk with two screens may cause unnecessary confusion: If a customer selects an option on one screen, does the second screen then become unavailable? Make sure prices are clearly displayed from the beginning of the experience, and ensure you have error messaging in place that can redirect the customer back to the appropriate screen.

Lastly, just because kiosks provide upselling opportunities, that doesn’t mean you should flood the customer with offers. Many customers are short on time and don’t want to waste valuable seconds closing out pop-up ads and messages. Instead, focus on upsell opportunities that feel organic and personalized to the customer’s preferences.

  1. Integration with your tech stack

Even a kiosk with an intuitive UX can become burdensome and inconvenient if it isn’t properly integrated with the rest of your tech stack. Make sure that your kiosk connects to your point of sale (POS) system and that customers can access their loyalty program accounts from the kiosk.

Poor tech stack integration can lead to a domino effect of poor customer experiences. For example, say an ice cream machine breaks in the restaurant and milkshakes are no longer available. If this change isn’t reflected in a third-party delivery app, orders that the restaurant can’t carry out will continue to flood in. On the other hand, properly integrating your tech stack opens the door for more personalized recommendations, which ultimately leads to higher check averages. Instead of scrambling to clean up messes caused by poor integration, you can reap the rewards of timely upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

  1. Messaging to employees

The buy-in of your employees can make or break the success of any new technology, regardless of how well it’s designed or integrated. Some employees may push back against the idea of kiosks out of fear that their jobs are in jeopardy. It’s important to stress that kiosks are there to alleviate unnecessary stress on employees and allow them to focus on tasks that can drive more value than taking orders.

For example, lessening the need to take customer orders means more employees are available to assist with cooking during rush hour, making busier times of day more manageable. As a result, employees can put more emphasis on hospitality and focus less on juggling orders. By stressing the benefits of kiosks (and rewarding employees for encouraging kiosk usage) you can create a mutually beneficial partnership between your new technology and your workforce.

Kiosks offer tremendous potential for any restaurant that prioritizes in-person customers. But as with any technology, you need to approach implementation thoughtfully to see results.

Hope Niemann Tillster
Hope Neiman, CMO of Tillster

In the context of kiosks, this means seamlessly integrating them with your tech stak and workforce — and ensuring customers have a smooth user experience interacting with them. Ultimately, by optimizing your kiosks, you can give your customers more control over their ordering experience and make your employees’ lives easier.


About the Author 

Hope Neiman is the chief marketing officer of Tillster, a leading global player in the burgeoning restaurant technology space. Neiman and her team drive outcomes by combining data and technology to expand sales and increase consumer engagement in a measurable way." 

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds