Understanding the customer perspective

How QSRs can benefit

Have you ever really thought about what buying or ordering from your hospitality business is like from the customer perspective? I am sure the answer is yes, but really think this through and you will find that technology plays a massive part in the ‘order flow’.

I speak to new and existing businesses every week about what we can do for them to increase revenues, improve controls and processes, and manage costs by implementing effective technology. But considering what the customer’s experience is like and how the technology can improve this, is equally as important.

Let me give you an example. As a customer in 2016, if I want to buy a wrap or a hot box from your business I have many options – simply visit the store, order on the web, use my smartphone or even take advantage of self-service kiosks … on top of this there is the debate on how your customers ‘pay’ for their goods, but don’t get me started on that one…PayPal, Yoyo, Apple Pay, or the simple contactless card.

Gain competitive edge

One or more of these revenue platforms (let’s call them) may not apply to your business, but for the customer, the choice out there is bigger than ever, and in an extremely buoyant and competitive space, thinking outside the box on how to leverage these other purchasing methods may just give you the edge.  It may also enable you to reduce or capitalise on your monthly operating costs.

Of course, to be able to offer these options to your customers, the technology behind the scenes and ‘in the cloud’ must have the ability to support them all, not just stand alone, but as a completely integrated and unified solution.  Your customer doesn’t care how you do this, but if you want their attention and you want them sticky to the brand you have spent the last couple of years developing, then their experience must be fluid. If not, then it’s too easy for them to spend their cash with the next business.

What does an integrated solution look like?

No matter what platform your customer uses, it should at a basic level always look and feel the same.  This encourages peeps to progress through the check-out process subliminally. Getting this part right is a challenge and one of the easiest starting points is the website design.  Having created the website and established a look and feel, this can then be replicated (fonts/colours/branding) on the other platforms.

Outside of the customer-facing aesthetics, functionality such as storing customer details, storing tokenised card details, and offering PayPal are crucial. Then there’s the ability to quickly access historic orders, whether you are online, or instore on a self-serve kiosk. This is all possible with cloud solutions that are hooked into each other via the core EPoS solution.

By taking advantage of an API your customer facing platform can easily be linked to the PoS solution.  This is also crucial for business intelligence.  With standalone it becomes very difficult to gain visibility on the revenue platforms and the business as a whole, whereas integrated enables you to see the big picture from a web-based reporting suite that is also linked into the above solutions, enabling you to make decisions in real time.

One question that does then need consideration though is reliability.  If all of the systems are integrated and reliant on one another, then the system must be robust, proven and be able to deal with the demands of multiple 3rd party links and data flowing in every direction. It’s easier said than done, but when it does work it’s beautiful, and your customer will thank you for it.

Retain business, repeat revenue and lower costs

This of course doesn’t replace traditional walk-in orders and the customer experience when interacting with your team – which remains a significant percentage of the business you do, so I am not suggesting that an integrated solution is necessary for everyone, but if it does apply then take heed.  This is changing rapidly and the concept of fast technology in hospitality is shifting. 

As the best properties become increasingly in demand and more expensive to operate (& obtain) new ways to operate your QSR at a lower cost and more efficiently should be on your radar.  Investment in technology that delivers smarter ROI is a real game changer to retaining business, delivering repeat revenue and offering opportunities to lower your costs – if applicable to your business you may want to consider tablets, collection points, smart phone ordering and self-service kiosk automation – all once the domain of the tier 1 operators, but not any more…the need and time for an integrated solution is already here and it’s considerably more accessible in 2016.