Seamless Omni-Channel Ordering Tops Strategic Goals for Restaurant Tech
Providing a frictionless ordering experience for diners is top of mind for restaurant operators. The customer’s definition of convenience is constantly shifting and diners now want to order food, make reservations and manage loyalty in a myriad of ways, across multiple devices. For their part, restaurants must make sure that they are meeting both the needs of guests and operations.
According to Hospitality Technology's Restaurant Technology Study, 23% operators agree that enabling seamless orders across all channels is a top strategic goal for technology.
In this executive roundtable, HT asked technology experts, and sponsors of the 2017 MURTEC Executive Summit, to share insights into common mistakes and best practices that should be taken for a successful omni-channel strategy.
Rob Graves, Vice President of Sales, Datatrend
David Pettit, Vice President of Sales, Agilence
Bryan Wang, Director, Marketing, Givex
John Moody, Co-Founder, Restaurant 365
Jon Siegal, VP/GM, Stellar Loyalty
What are some mistakes restaurants make when addressing omni-channel and how can they avoid these missteps?
GRAVES: While many operators are primarily focused on new technology solutions when deploying omni-channel ordering, we find that it is the human element that can make or break these initiatives. It is important to teach employees about your organization’s technology initiatives and related changes to business practices, as employees unfamiliar with new technologies may undermine efforts to provide a seamless guest experience.
MOODY: Not considering the significant advantages to integrating mobility for back-of-house and how that can ultimately impact customer service is a mistake operators often make. Today’s connected diner is greatly impacted by technology, and integrating mobility into the overall fabric of your restaurant positively impacts service and experience in many ways. With a cloud-based restaurant management solution like Restaurant365, operators can seamlessly track everything from inventory to food and recipe costing, and that data seamlessly ties into accounting and operations. This means less time spent thinking about technology and more time available for focusing on customers.
SIEGAL: A common mistake we see is the “quick fix” to solve a guest experience issue one channel at a time. Perhaps it is a mobile payment app, or a social engagement program, or a basic web loyalty program. Either way the mistake often made is ignoring the value of designing the end-to-end strategy and approach to solving for the entire guest journey across multiple touch points – both digital and non-digital -- and purposes. For instance, while they may get mobile ordering right, they have failed to tie in the rewards and recognition program that would make the interaction truly meaningful for the guest. The missed opportunity in this case for the restaurant: capturing order information as part of a guest interaction profile which can be analyzed and used in a promotion campaign.
In addition, most restaurants fail to effectively bridge the gap between digital and physical, and internal and third-party. All these guest signals are critical and can be transformed to create a differentiating and competitive advantage. Restaurants must capture all of their guests’ interactions and use this complete customer profile to understand and motivate guest behaviors.
WANG: As restaurants plan process workflow, they assume that they can bridge gaps between separate systems with staffing (e.g. an online order pops up on an iPad and an employee must catch it and manually enter it into the POS). Misusing a restaurant’s most expensive resource in this way not only becomes costly as the business scales, but also creates another potential fail point when orders are manually keyed in and reports must be reconciled.
What must restaurants take into consideration regarding restaurants’ network or infrastructure to ensure a robust, frictionless experience for guests?
GRAVES: Maintaining clear and strong executive leadership support for your company’s omni-channel strategy will help keep your employees focused on the customer during unavoidable times of disruption and change. Even though teams might be fully prepared for the new changes, speedbumps may arise and customers will quickly abandon poorly designed or unreliable omni-channel solutions, negating efforts to provide diners with a better experience. Be sure to employ an active feedback loop for your diners and employees to quickly mitigate any challenges when deploying new solutions. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than a faulty technology solution without an easy-to-leverage help system.
PETTIT: How do you analyze and measure your omni-channel sales? Start there. If you do not know how to measure this data then you might want to reconsider the investment until you have a measurement plan in place.
SIEGAL: Many restaurants have not made the spending shift from maintaining old POS and back-office systems to next-generation omni-channel customer engagement, ordering and loyalty systems. Today, actionable analytics and segmentation is a challenge for many operators. Restaurants need to invest in the technology and expertise required to make the digital transition if they are going to keep pace.
WANG: From the start, carefully evaluate the technological options that can provide that seamless guest experience and plan a workflow based on automation. Your POS and online ordering system should be pulling information from a shared item database – if you add a menu item or change a price, it should instantly be reflected in both places. An order placed online should be automatically queued in your Kitchen Display System or production area at the appropriate time. Evaluate potential vendors based on how well they can support a seamless workflow across multiple business areas and clear reporting that is easy to understand.