8 Ways Customer-Facing Dining Tech Improves the Guest Experience


Today’s restaurant guests are hungry for more than a meal. They’re craving digitally enhanced dining.

According to Toast POS, 73% of restaurant customers believe that tech improves their restaurant visit. The National Restaurant Association even found that 35% of patrons seek out eateries serving up the latest tech.

No worries. Robots won’t be running your restaurant (although robotic drink delivery is a thing). The right customer-facing dining technology, like restaurant tablets, creates a more personalized experience for guests – and profit potential for you.

Wondering if you should bring restaurant tablets to your tables? Take a closer look at 3 tablet types and 8 key benefits. Let’s talk tablet…

3 Options for Restaurant Tablets

1) Order and Payment on Restaurant Tablets

True or false. Only waitstaff should use your point of sale (POS) system. Today, that’s false.

Fast-casual restaurants are putting guests in charge of ordering and payment: from chains like Panera to indie concepts like Sweet Green in NYC. The action happens on tablets mounted on kiosk stands at or near the counter. It’s like a POS…for guests.

Full-service restaurants are also letting guests pay at the table with restaurant tablets. These tablets are equipped with credit card readers and even NFC “contactless” systems (so guests can use mobile apps like SamsungPay and ApplePay).

2) Stop Chasing Paper: Go Digital

Instead of a paper menu, restaurants are bringing their menus to life on touchscreen tablets. Again, it’s not just for big fast-casual chains. Real Seafood Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan switched to menu restaurant tablets in 2012 – and never looked back. This independent fine dining establishment used menu software to turn iPads into digital menus.

3) All the Bells and Whistles

Restaurants like Chili’s and Outback Steakhouse are going all in for customer-facing dining technology. At many locations, guests can use restaurant tablets to browse a menu, order, and then pay.

In early 2018, Buffalo Wild Wings locations in Minnesota and California even rolled out restaurant tablets that give guests the “menu, order, payment” trifecta. Plus, patrons can access free trivia and games – all on one restaurant tabletop tablet.

The point is, you’ve got options when it comes to customer-facing dining technology. For the best ROI – including these 8 benefits – seek out restaurant tablets that include all of the above.

8 Key Benefits of Restaurant Tablets

1) Bring Your Menu (and Revenue) to Life

Let’s be honest. Unless you have a massive printing budget, featuring photos of every dish on a paper menu isn’t realistic. (Some experts also think photo-heavy printed menus are very uncool). You can’t tell the story behind every dish unless you want your menu to look like a magazine.

With restaurant tablets, you can show the pictures – and tell the story. And yes, the story sells.

Cornell University found that guests were 27% more likely to choose menu items with vivid descriptions – and will gladly pay 10% more for them.

Not everyone will do a deep dive on each dish. But restaurant tablets function like websites. See something that catches your eye? Just click to see more.

Restaurant tablets are also meant to stay at the table: keeping your drink menu within reach. In fact, iRiS Software Systems claims that their customer-facing dining technology results in a 15-20% boost in premium wine sales. Why? Because guests like reading up on the terroir and tasting notes of each wine.

2) “I Want it, and I Want it NOW”

Aside from toddlers, you won’t hear that from guests. But that’s what they’re thinking. Restaurant tablets let guests give into instant gratification – without waiting for a server.

We’ve all been there. We order a round of nachos for the table…and it’s gone within 2 minutes (maybe 3). With tablets at the table, guests hit “reorder” and boom – the order goes straight to the kitchen.

Another event that triggers the impatient toddler in all of us? Waiting for the check. Restaurant tablets equipped with a credit card reader allow guests to view their bill, securely pay, tip, and go.

3) In Restaurant Tablets We Trust: Secure Payment

It’s an unfortunate fact of life in the restaurant biz: unsavory servers steal guest credit card numbers. We hope it never happens to you. To reduce your risk, turn to restaurant tabletop tablets.

With restaurant tablets, the guest’s credit card never leaves their hands. Plus, most customer-facing dining technology on restaurant tablets includes secure EMV (aka “chip”) card readers.

These extra layers of protection act like a security blanket, easing the (valid) fears of guests. From identity theft to hackers, guests are on high alert.

Plus, when you take steps to safeguard their financial data, 85% of customers will be more loyal to you, according to an Accenture Loyalty Study.

4) Upselling Made Easy (Not Sleazy)

Now back to more upbeat benefits of restaurant tablets. Like great servers, restaurant tablets have mastered the art of persuasion. Most come equipped with tools to program “suggestions” for guests as they place orders.

If a customer decides on the pasta carbonara, the tablet might recommend extra bacon for $4. Listen, even your best waiter can’t tell guests about all extras and add-ons. But restaurant tablets can.

5) Embrace the Customization Nation

So, about your menu. Today’s guests view it like a list of ingredients, just waiting for their creative touch. (Don’t tell your chefs.)

Need proof? Look to some of America’s fastest-growing chains like Blaze Pizza (build your own pizza) and CORE Eatery (build your own grain or broth bowl).

Restaurant tablets are the ultimate customization machines. A guest can go wild building out menu items to their heart’s content. And that goes a long way with millennials: 54% are more loyal to businesses that let them “create something unique to me.”

The result of ordering on restaurant tablets is a personalized guest experience that’s “all about me.” P.S. As guests build out their dream burger, saying yes to grilled onions and extra cheese, you’re building revenue.

Perhaps what’s most compelling about restaurant tablets is that win-win factor. You increase guest satisfaction and business profitability – all at once.

6) Cater to Vegans, Celiacs, and Paleo Dieters

No, they’re not just picky eaters. Folks following a dietary lifestyle are in it for health reasons. Restaurant tablets show them you care by featuring menu modifications that factor in their restrictions.

Consider the fact that 1 in 5 restaurant guests look for gluten-free menu items when dining out. On restaurant tablets, guests can click to see all gluten-free swaps and options.

7) Do More with Less: Restaurant Tablets to the Rescue

Remember, restaurant tablets won’t replace your servers. But tablets will let them cover more tables – saving you serious cash on labor.

Instead of taking complicated orders and running credit cards to the POS, servers can handle an extra table or two. The time servers do spend with guests becomes “quality time.” They can chat ‘em up and answer menu questions. After all, bonding with patrons is crucial to bringing them back.

Another bottom-line benefit of restaurant tablets? Tables turn faster…naturally. When guests call the shots, they check out quickly – freeing up tables.

8) Raise Your Fun Factor

On top of the latest customer-facing dining technology, today’s guests have another request for restaurants. Can you add fun to their visit? They promise to be more loyal in return. Facebook asked over 14,000 adults to describe their favorite businesses. The most-used word used was “quality” followed by “fun.”

To integrate entertainment into every visit, choose restaurant tablets that also include digital arcade games and trivia. As an added bonus, an independent Arbitron study showed that those who play games on restaurant tabletop tablets spend 21% more per table check.

(Or, you could always see if the Salt Bae would pay your restaurant a visit?)

Ready to Go Digital?

We’re living in a digital world where the only constant is change. Technology is transforming what it means to dine out. Get ahead of the curve – and the competition – by exploring restaurant tablets for your business.

About the Author:

Buzztime has delivered on its mission statement for over three decades: bring the best in-venue entertainment to businesses – and the guests they serve. We achieve this by constantly evolving with new technology and integrating the latest trends into our in-demand products.

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