5 Tips for Implementing a Restaurant Kiosk

So, you’re thinking about implementing a self-serve kiosk in your quick service restaurant. Brands like Johnny Rockets, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell are realizing benefits including higher sales, shorter wait times, and increased customer satisfaction, so why shouldn’t yours?

While you may be tempted to dive in as quickly as possible, a rushed or poorly executed quick service kiosk program can be an even greater missed opportunity than choosing not to adopt the technology at all. After all, if you provide a solution that is hard to use or doesn’t meet customers’ needs, then they will likely opt to dine with your competitors instead.

Here are 5 tips for running a successful kiosk initiative to help you get started successfully, improve the customer experience, and ultimately expand your competitive advantage.

Tip #1: Customize Kiosk Technology to Your Needs

Your brand and value proposition (hopefully) differ from any other restaurant. While off-the-shelf applications are usually designed for simplicity and out-of-the-box implementation, they don’t offer the flexibility of a custom solution. That means that off-the-shelf kiosk software probably won’t allow you to keep your unique flavor.

The decision to go with an off-the-shelf solution is usually driven by two considerations: seemingly lower cost and faster time-to-market. Yet while they may seem like the better alternative, off-the-shelf apps can actually cost as much as, or even more than, a custom solution when you factor in the costs of configuring and updating. While speed is also an important consideration, it shouldn’t be at the expense of creating the right tool for your brand. Not to mention, what about all of the time spent making changes when your off-the-shelf app doesn’t meet your future needs?

Instead, look towards customizable software that allows you to tailor the digital ordering process to the standards and tastes that already differentiate your brand. Owning the strategy and design will allow you to deliver a true extension of your brand that offers the features and functionality your customers want and integrates with your existing systems.

Tip #2: Run a Pilot Program

You’ve just spent thousands of dollars and hours of time designing and developing your solution, but how do you know if your customers will actually use it? While performing user testing during your design phase is a great start, you should also consider rolling it out in a limited pilot program to source additional feedback and identify opportunities for optimization.  Late last year, McDonald’s rolled out their “Create Your Taste” kiosks to 2,000 locations in the U.S. after a successful pilot program in Australia and has, unsurprisingly, continued to realize success.

Tip #3: Plan for Operational Changes

Make no mistake: the implementation of quick-service kiosks will bring with it major operational changes to your business. These changes will likely be for the best - 86% of Panera restaurants that have implemented mobile initiatives including self-serve kiosks report improvements in overall operations – but they are changes nonetheless. For example, you may see a decrease in the need for employees working cash registers but an increased need for employees in other capacities as your restaurant begins process orders faster and more efficiently. Understand that your kiosk implementation will change every area of your business from your staffing needs to the way you process orders and plan accordingly.

Tip #4: Integrate Kiosks with Your Multi-Channel Digital Strategy

Panera was able to increase its loyalty program’s active user base to 17 million by integrating these efforts with their quick serve kiosks; loyalty members can easily access order history to quickly select their favorites. These results prove the importance of seamlessly blending your kiosks with your multi-channel strategy, just like you would any other digital platform. Because kiosks act as a point-of-sale and can integrate with promotions, rewards, giveaways, and contests among other marketing efforts, they offer one of the best opportunities for understanding customer behavior and tracking the ROI of your multi-channel campaigns.

Tip #5: Budget for Growth and Improvement

Implementing quick-service kiosks should not be viewed as a one-time expense. In addition to obvious expenses, such as the cost to scale your solution to more locations, you must also factor in the price of ongoing enhancements to ensure your app continues to meet your customers’ needs. In addition to technology updates, your kiosks will also require regular maintenance which could be performed by retail employees, contractors or W2 employees. These costs can be limited through preventative maintenance, a cost many businesses overlook.

Despite the QSR moniker, there are no quick wins when it comes to kiosk implementation. It’s a process that requires careful planning, an astute understanding of the customer and business model, along with a willingness to invest in the technology over the long haul, and not as a one-time experiment.

For more guidance on implementing kiosks—whether it’s strategy, design or development of a custom solution—be sure to contact Mobiquity today.

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