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Staffing challenges. They seem to be an ongoing struggle in the world of hospitality and one that may be around for a while.

Automations and digital ordering can drastically reduce the strain on existing staff, but restaurant owners have an understandable fear: that digital ordering will take away from the personal touch they want their guests to experience. 

How restaurants are using digital ordering successfully

We asked restaurant customers who get more than 90% of their orders via customers’ mobile devices what they recommend for going to digital ordering successfully. Here’s what they had to say:

  1. Work on the welcome

“We try to greet our guests as they arrive, so we can seat them and explain how they can order and pay. If they want to use digital, we provide QR codes. If they don’t, the waiter can take their order. Or we can do both. That’s one of the best things about combining the customer self-service with the POS platform. But the important thing is to explain clearly in the first place how it will work.”

  1. Keep an open tab

“It was important for us to not just use any order and pay solution as our guests wouldn’t want to pay multiple times. We wanted to offer an open tab to make the experience as seamless as ordering via a waiter. We’ve seen that digital orders are typically of much higher value than via a waiter and we put a lot of this down to offering an open tab. It’s so easy for customers to spend, which we love!” 

  1. Let staff work to their strengths

“We’ve found that some waiting staff loved not having to do the more tedious parts of the job like taking orders and processing payments. They feel freed up to have much better conversations. This wasn’t for everyone, so some staff may be better suited to ensuring the speed of service delivering food rather than the customer welcome.”

  1. Get staff to buy in to the new guest experience

“It helped to explain that this technology was not aimed at reducing staff hours but was implemented to offer guests choice and to free staff up to provide better service. This really got our teams bought into the benefits and our customer satisfaction has actually improved.”

  1. Good signage

“In one area of our hotel, we wanted customers to pay in advance, in others we wanted to offer the open tab and a bit more waiter service. Introducing clear signage made it easy for customers to find the digital menu quickly, without having to wait for a waiter."

  1. Just make it easy

“We’ve found that customers love the ease of ordering. They spend more, don’t need to flag down waiters (particularly since we’re short staffed at the moment) and can pay when they are ready. We’ve tried to remove as many barriers as possible, and it works very well.”

  1. Make sure your payment options are integrated

“We thought that if our customers were ordering and paying themselves, we needed to make it easy to pay. Apple Pay and Google Pay let them do this with one click, but we also wanted our PMS to be integrated if the customer wanted to charge to their room. Our previous solution didn’t offer this and it led to problems.”

  1. Make sure staff can be tipped

“We were conscious that staff may not buy into the system as much if they thought they’d miss out on tips. The payment screen makes it so easy to tip that this hasn’t been a problem.”

  1. Make splitting the bill easy

“We thought this might be difficult if waiters aren’t there to help but we’ve found that the system is really intuitive. Guests can either split by value or by product. Waiters sometimes get called over to help, but they work off the same system as the customer so if some guests have already paid, waiters can just help the ones that need it. It works well!”

  1. Embrace it

“We were surprised by how it was used. For example, we saw grandfathers ordering desserts for their grandchildren as a surprise, and cocktail sales improved as guests didn’t need to wait by the bar whilst they were made. There are benefits where you won’t expect them!”