Restaurant kiosks serve up multiple demographics

| by Bradley Cooper
Restaurant kiosks serve up multiple demographics

Restaurant kiosks have been in the game for quite some time, but recently with McDonald's jumping on board, they have gotten a lot more attention.

Many media outlets have focused on the potential for kiosks to cut costs and employees, but few have focused on the true goal of kiosks, to improve customer experience through self-service. The restaurant technology company Tillster conducted a survey to discover kiosks' true customer experience impact.

In the study, the company surveyed 1,000 customers who had eaten at a quick-serve-restaurant in the last three months, according to Hope Neiman, CMO of Tillster.  "Wait time has really become a very impactful part of how they choose their experience. They are unwilling to wait a certain amount of time," Neiman said. In fact, the study found that only 36 percent of customers would wait in line if there were more than five people ahead of them.

Ordinarily, a customer would leave if the line was too long, however the study found 80 percent of consumers would order from the kiosk if the line was five people or longer and 61 percent would use the kiosk if the line was four people or longer, according to the study.

The study also argued that interest in self-service kiosk is growing across every age group:

  • 18-24 year olds are more than 70 percent likely to visit a restaurant if it had a kiosk option;
  • 25-34 year olds are 65 percent more likely to visit;
  • 45-54 year olds are 60 percent more likely; and
  • 55+ year olds are 40 percent more likely.

However, this demand for kiosks also comes with an expectation that the kiosk is always accurate, responsive and in good working order. This should come as no surprise to businesses, because no one wants to deal with a broken or clunky machine. However, it's not just about maintenance, it's also about having the right options for customization.

According to Perse Faily, CEO and president of Tillster, there are three key things you need to keep in mind to make your kiosk answer these demands. First of all, you need to make sure the ordering flow is smooth. No one wants to go through page after page just to add extra cheese to their burger.

Second, you need to build your kiosks to withstand everyday wear and tear. Restaurant kiosks need to be able to deal with bumps and scratches from consumers and employees alike. Third you need to know that, "Putting in kiosks requires reevaluating operations," according to Faily.

Faily gives two examples. Customers might not be aware that they can add certain items to their food such as jalapenos. So, when they see the option on the kiosk, they might order it in greater numbers. After all, customization is a key plus for kiosks, especially with the accuracy of kiosks. "Because the user is entering their order directly into the QSR kiosk, the accuracy of the order is improved, which increases customer satisfaction and encourages the customer to customize their orders on future visits," Frank Olea, CEO of Olea Kiosks, said in ablog.

However, to answer this demand for customization, the restaurant may need to stock additional ingredients such as Jalapenos.

Also, the kiosk may drive more sales, since the restaurant can handle a greater number of orders in a shorter time period. This is great for the QSR, but it may need to rethink its number of employees. If there aren't enough employees to handle this influx of orders, then your kiosk will make service slower not faster. Restaurants might need to hire additional employees to handle the stress.

One final note is that a good experience doesn't end at the digital interaction. It continues with any subsequent interactions with employees. An alternative payment method, whether it be kiosks or virtual currency, essentially frees the employee from the desk and enables them to interact on a more personal level with customers.

For example, an employee could deliver the food right to the customer's table and periodically check with the customer to make sure the food is satisfactory. Thus, the employees can help create an environment more similar to a sit down restaurant than a traditional QSR.

In the end, while kiosks can provide that boost to customer experience, it cannot hold it up on its own. The QSR needs to have its whole staff and operations on board to get the maximum value out of kiosks. 

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.

wwwView Bradley Cooper's profile on LinkedIn

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