Balancing Customer Demands for Service and Technology

We live in an increasingly technologically advanced world. The advancements in technology are also reshaping the way restaurant customers think about service and convenience. From self-service technologies to third-party delivery systems, restaurant customers are increasingly in control of their restaurant experience. This puts restaurateurs in a precarious position where they must decide whether to cede control over customer experiences in favor of technology. 

According to Forbes Magazine, Three Chick-fil-A franchises in Texas recently installed Kallpod devices which allow customers to call a server to the table when they’re ready to order with the push of a button. On its face, the technology may seem like a natural extension for the company which already boasts a successful mobile app. But, what Kallpod has done for the company is unparalleled in terms of boosting both revenue and service.

An area manager for the company told CNBC in an interview that revenue for two of the three stores with the technology has increased by 500 percent—yes, you read that right. He said that customers are enjoying an easier way to order their meal, but the technology has done more for the company than bring in higher revenues.

Those deeply ingrained in the hospitality industry have undoubtedly heard of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index’s rankings. Service is one of the key factors in determining how high a company is rated on the Index. That’s one reason why Chick-fil-A has been the highest ranked restaurant on the Index for the past three years. Giving their customers more control of their own experience will undoubtedly contribute to them staying on top of the Index.

Industry research conducted by the National Restaurant Association has shown that customers increasingly want more control over their dining experience. 69 percent of respondents to their survey said they use free WiFi; 64 percent say they would use tableside payment options if they were available; and 59 percent said they’d use touch-screen ordering kiosks at restaurants as well.

As millennials and Gen Z increase their spending power, restaurants would be wise to be nimble to their preferences. Technology will never replace service altogether, but it has already redefined it. Accepting that technology may replace the services of some restaurant workers will go a long way to helping restaurateurs stay relevant with younger demographics. 


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