Technology can also help avoid embarrassing situations where customers are dissatisfied if a dish suddenly becomes unavailable. Conversely, staff can improve profits by using it to upsell relevant dishes.
Once upon a time, the idea that you could sit in a pub with your mates, order and pay for a round of drinks and have it delivered to your table would have seemed ridiculous. Companies like Zonal have made this scenario a seamless reality, solving the time honoured problem of being able to handle the needs of more people, even with limited bar space. Of course, this will involve a change in business process, but the upside is increased sales.
In an era when the consumer is king, the key is offering the choice that is right for them; they are the ones that will ultimately decide how technology will influence their lives and how they interact with brands.
Looking ahead I can say with some confidence that the pace of change in terms of technology will continue to be dramatic.
The key is offering the choice that is right for the consumer.In the years to come, there will be more interaction and increased knowledge of the consumer and their habits, enabling operators to better tailor the customer experience so it perfectly reflects the personal needs of each individual.
It may sound the stuff of Hollywood but the way products and services are marketed to us is already here in the form of personalised retargeting: the technique used online to recapture consumers who visit a site and leave without making a purchase, and cookies that enable tailored ads.
One tool that is very much in the present day is social media.
A recent report from the Foodservice Consultants Society International, UK & Ireland (FCSI) and Allegra Strategies reveals that social media is expected to become an even more important influence in where consumers eat out.
So, a web reservation could be linked direct to your Facebook profile, the table and kitchen management systems, the ordering and payment devices and the customer’s feedback via any medium.
This will enable a totally connected journey that is tracked and monitored in real-time – a truly integrated, seamless process.
• Stuart McLean is CEO of Edinburgh-based Zonal.