"A restaurant is the only establishment where the customer's credit card leaves their sight while they are waiting to pay," according to Leslie Truelove, Director of Marketing at Ziosk. Because of this system, several things can go wrong: the customer may sign the wrong copy of the receipt, the card might be misplaced, the customer can leave without paying at all or they may get frustrated waiting for the server to return. When they are ready to go, they are ready to go, especially if young children are involved. The payment process is the last experience the diner has at the restaurant. Ideally it should be just as positive as the greeting and the food service delivery; creating a holistic pleasant and hopefully memorable dining experience. With our traditional payment process of the server taking a credit card, leaving to process payment, returning to get a signature and finally returning the card, a pleasant departure process is not assured.
Tableside Payment Systems
Luckily, there is technology that can help. You may have already seen restaurants with tableside payment processing – if you go to Europe you certainly will. Tableside payments have several big advantages: quicker turn times, increased security, and patron convenience. While some people worry that tipping in front of a server can be awkward, consider the convenience when splitting checks and this qualm is quickly outweighed.
Tabletop Tablet Systems
Take the tableside idea a step further and you get tabletop tablets which are also growing in popularity. With tabletop tablets, once patrons are escorted to their table, they can begin ordering right away from the menu options on the tablet and of course can also pay from their table. This system allows servers to manage more tables and can decrease delivery time of food and drinks.
Tabletop tablets also allow for entertainment options. Families, couples and groups of friends can interact and engage at the table by playing communal games. Restaurants can even choose to design their own trivia games, increasing customer loyalty.
Ziosk, a leader in the tabletop tablet industry and a recent exhibitor at the National Restaurant Association conference has units in major chains like Chili's, Uno's and Olive Garden. They note that their system integrates with loyalty programs and can deliver surveys at the end of the experience to capture feedback and begin to establish consumer loyalty.
Restaurant technology continues to grow and change but convenience and automation continue to be driving themes that shouldn't be missed.