by James O’Sullivan, CEO, Kobas
Technology, in general, has reached new heights in the last decade. With that came the evolution of the Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) and working in the front-lines of the cross-space between London’s web technology scene and the burgeoning hospitality industry in the UK puts us in a wonderful position of watching this advancement.
From a customer perspective, the last 5 years have brought an explosion of different apps for different kinds of transactions, such as reservations, feedback, payment processing, click and collect ordering, loyalty programs, and third-party deliveries. Each of these apps, in their own right, have brought a benefit to operators, but monitoring and maintenance have become a serious time drain.
Some of the most notable developments in the last few years have focused on the integration of all these apps with EPoS to ensure that the systems work together. In some cases, such as loyalty programs and payments, these integrations happened out of necessity and in others, such as obtaining guest feedback, it’s the next evolution. Outside of the day-to-day system applications, EPoS now also integrates with third-party apps such as Yapster and HasteePay to make operations run smoother.
Taking all the above into account, operators need to be careful to avoid a situation where they are running too many different apps, sometimes 7 or more, but don’t have every facet of the apps integrated. Even a small function that has to be duplicated or done manually, such as creating a user account in each system, at best, could add hours to the overhead of the overall system and, at worst, is forgotten, which could lead to a broken experience for the customers and staff.
So how can operators take advantage of the development of EPoS and apps to provide a better experience for restaurant staff and customers? At the end of the day, staff and customers want the same thing and that is for the experience to be rewarding.
Operators can use technology to streamline and automate as many of the mundane tasks as possible in order to spend more time with the customers and provide optimal, customized service. Some of the tasks could be incorporating predictive ordering into the system, creating and reviewing rotas remotely on mobile devices, or creating digital to-do-lists and checks that prevent double input from when transcribing data from paper to spreadsheet. When staff and management are not worrying over mundane operational undertakings, they are focusing their energy on the day-to-day task of providing great service to every customer that walks in.
With such an oversaturated industry, customers are no longer just searching for restaurants with great menus. Rather, they are looking for efficiency, flexibility in ways they place and pay their order, outstanding customer service, and feeling valued by the establishment. They want hassle-free visits when they can order and pay ahead during a busy lunch, order deliveries, or use contactless or pre-paid features. Customers also want to be rewarded for their visit, usually through loyalty programs. EPoS and apps have come a long way and loyalty programs are now embedded into the system, so customers, in most cases, need only to show their unique bar-codes to collect loyalty points on their mobile phones.
All of the day to day tasks of an establishment is easy to accomplish. Although not all will apply to every operator, the more you can do with a single, seamless system, the better it will be for your customers, staff, and company.