Personalizing the Restaurant Guest Experience: Past, Present, and Future
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” — Dale Carnegie
It’s well-documented that people like to be treated as individuals, rather than as representatives of a group. Using someone’s name in conversation is a way of showing respect and making them feel important. Remembering the details of someone’s life is a surefire way to build trust. And catering to a person’s preferences can make them feel like they’re the only person in the room. These rules apply as much to the hospitality industry as they do to personal relationships.
Restaurants have long relied on their front line of employees to develop a friendly rapport with loyal patrons. However, the human brain can only recall the names and faces of about 150 people (fivethirtyeight.com). With fast casual and QSR concepts serving thousands a day, that model of personalization becomes obsolete in the first hour of operation.
Today, providing a personalized guest experience is a scalable endeavor. Smart restaurant tech can provide a customized experience to every single guest it serves. And people have come to expect it: “One-way marketing messages (brand to consumer) are less efficient than they used to be, as consumers now desire and often expect one-on-one, personalized engagement and conversation” (Deloitte). Marketing doesn’t end once you’ve got a guest in the door: building a sense of loyalty in your customers is the key to a successful concept, and ensuring that guests have a great experience with your brand while they dine with you is the way to do it.
Strategies for Today
By implementing some of the Self Order Kiosk strategies you’ll find below, the guests at your fast casual or quick service restaurants will feel catered to and more satisfied with their experience. What can you do — right now — to make personalized experiences a reality for every single guest?
Make guest order histories useful and actionable.
Which Wich gives guests the option to repeat a previous order by entering their phone number or inserting their credit card. Guests will then be presented with their 3 previous orders and given the chance to repeat them. Not only does this shave time off the order process, it also helps create a customized, efficient experience for each guest.
Allow guests to tap into a menu tailored to their lifestyle.
Met with this introductory screen, guests at UFood Grill experience an order flow that meets their specific needs: whether that’s vegan, gluten free, low sodium, vegetarian or high protein. By organizing and automating the menus this way, guests feel like they’re getting a customized order experience. It may be useful to segment your customers’ current behaviors to identify which user journeys will have the highest impact.
Let guests choose menus by their tastes and preferences.
Jars Juices gives personalization a playful air: on the introductory screen, you have the option to let Jarvis assist you. From there, you’re guided through a series of screens that narrow down the menu according to a guest’s preferences or whims. It’s a custom menu flow that lets guests feel that they’re on a journey of their own making.
Make a “build your own” menu fun and easy.
Give guests the power to choose, like BurgerFi did with their “Build Your Own Burger” Option. A “build your own” menu can sometimes be unwieldy for operations, but when the process is automated through a Self Order Kiosks, guests can reap all the benefits of a custom meal without imposing a burden on your staff.
Strategies for the Future
As a business owner, you’ve got your eye on the horizon: good strategy requires a long view, and the suggestions above are only the beginning of the personalization that technology will make possible. So, what does the future hold for NEXTEP technology?
Reading Facial Geometry
Soon, our Self Check Outs, Self Order Kiosks and Touchscreen Drive Thrus will be able to recognize an individual guest by reading their facial geometry. There will be no need to insert a credit card or enter a phone number. Instead, the camera will read your face and pull up your order history. It will know if you’re gluten free and make appropriate recommendations. It will pull up your saved payment types and let you pay with one tap. Once we roll out facial recognition capabilities to the NEXTEP product suite, the guest ordering experience will be a highly refined and efficient exercise in the ultimate guest experience.
Guests at Self Order Kiosks will soon be able to interact with menus in a new, but familiar way: to generate smart meal recommendations, they will be able to swipe left or right through a series of images that represent their preferences. The swipe has become a ubiquitous gesture, and bringing it to the order flow will inject fun into the guest experience.
Expanding Payment Options
In the near future, guests will be able to pay with wearables. Once the kiosk recognizes a guest’s Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other wearable, it will be able to pull up their order history and give them access to their saved payment preferences. This passive customer recognition will speed up order time significantly, as well as give guests a truly customized experience.