By MikeWior, co-founder and CEO of Omnivore
Technology is already playing a larger role across every facet of the restaurant industry. Applications tied to virtually every element of dining out are improving the customer experience, but apps — and the technology behind them — can also provide incredible insights into restaurant operations and create customer service efficiencies in a more streamlined and profitable way.
Apps focused on increased customer satisfaction provide advanced solutions, but they can't create a seamless experience on their own. In order to close that gap, communication between the restaurant, the app and the customer is critical.
App surges, often caused by the same ebb and flow seen in a restaurant's brick-and-mortar location, can lead to kitchen demands so high that backups occur and customer service is impacted. Balance is vital, and without the kitchen delivering information to providers on order status, customers are left in the dark as they become increasingly impatient and agitated.
Improved communication can help solve this problem. However, historically, the various pieces of technology needed to achieve that improvement operate independently, limiting the role data can play in streamlining operations. By enabling a restaurant's point-of-sale system to speak with other pieces of technology, restaurants can better control a diner's experience without impacting restaurant operations — both in-restaurant and through delivery.
The problem is that the analytics most operators have access to only allow them to react in hindsight. Armed with real-time analytics, restaurant owners and operators can engage customers quickly and solve problems more responsively.
Connecting POS systems, apps and ordering systems with one another is now possible, but very few systems can integrate smoothly. That's where the concept of a universal access point — known as an application program interface, or API — comes in. By utilizing a single connection point for all of the technology powering a restaurant's operation, operators can ensure a seamless experience.
This is the future of dining: endless and exciting possibilities when all elements of the future dining experience are interconnected.
Consider the following dining experience in the not so distant future: It's 3 p.m. when you begin searching on a reservations app for exciting restaurants nearby who have an open table that evening. As you book the reservation, your phone schedules a ride through your favorite ride-sharing service to ensure you get to the restaurant on time. The restaurant's POS system also knows you're coming and can predict what you might order based on your previous preferences saved through your reservation profile. That tells the kitchen what products and ingredients they are likely to need more of for the evening, improving the service level you're likely to receive from the wait staff. After your meal, payment can easily be accomplished from your phone, eliminating the wait for a bill. Your ride sharing app receives an alert that your check has been paid and you are likely done with dinner and can have a car nearby waiting to take you to your next destination.
In the above scenario, the entire experience is streamlined and improved for the customer and the restaurant. Customers will arrive on time for their reservation using a scheduled ride-share and when they arrive, the restaurant has a better understanding of their clientele's preferences providing targeted upsell opportunities to the waitstaff. Pay-at-the-table guests have the ability to leave when they want and reducing table turn times by 12 minutes on average, increasing satisfaction and tip averages by 3-5 percent. Finally, the ride-share home or to their next destination relieves liability and ensures your customers get home safe.
Open APIs make all this possible today for interconnectivity of communication between the customer, restaurant and other third-party services. The ability to build new seamless experiences for the future is virtually limitless. Activating multiple access points through a universal API like Omnivore provides streamlinedreal-timeme analytics that help systems anticipate and prevent a bad experience before it happens and the opportunity to quickly solve them when they do.
Restaurants slow to implement advanced analytics face the prospect of being left behind by the competition. But, those who embrace this new information outlet stand to be rewarded through streamlined operations that will ensure that the dining out experience of the future is better than ever before.