Hospitality operators are rapidly turning to contactless ordering and payment solutions to help navigate the long road back to normal from COVID-19’s impacts. While it’s a smart innovation that some say is long overdue, the reality is operators are responding to customer demand. According to a recent study by Mastercard, “79 percent of respondents worldwide say they are now using contactless payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers.” In fact, Mastercard estimates “over 40 percent growth in contactless transactions globally in the first quarter of 2020."
While contactless ordering and payment is here to stay, many operators remain concerned about how this new service model will impact their guest experience. Following are a few simple steps hospitality operators should consider:
Remember that Guests Come for the Experience
Restaurateurs are facing a herculean effort just to produce and serve great food in this environment. But we also want to deliver a hospitable experience because we know that’s what guests crave. With so much focus on “going contactless”, it’s important to take steps to make sure guests feel welcome and supported in their dining experience. Yes, ordering and payment is important. But it’s really a small component of the overall dining experience. In this new environment, take steps to:
- Elevate your servers to guides. Be intentional about how servers greet and introduce your guests to your establishment now that the ordering and payment process has changed.
- Be attentive to your guests’ needs. Just because they can order on their own, it doesn’t mean they don’t need your support navigating the menu or finding something new to experience.
Make Staff Training a Priority
Contactless ordering and payment involve a significant change in front-of-house operations for your guests and your staff. The most successful operators make an early and ongoing commitment and investment in staff training.
- For guests, the goal is to make the experience so seamless that, beyond the enhanced control and flexibility they gain from browsing and ordering on their phones, they barely notice a difference. In order to accomplish this goal, the front-of-house team will need to learn about the experience from the guests’ perspective. Plan to have staff practice the new order and payment process as if they are guests. Make sure that your contactless order and payment provider offers a demo environment for this purpose.
- For staff, take time up front to eliminate unnecessary steps and find ways to maximize contactless interactions with guests. For example, when guests order for themselves, they experience fewer order errors. That makes it possible for staff to spend more time on other tasks that make the dining experience safer and more enjoyable, such as enhancing sanitation practices in restrooms and other common areas, and consulting with guests on menu and cocktail/wine pairing recommendations. These process changes need to be carefully reviewed with your team so that they’re clear on where to maximize their time.
Map Traffic Flows and the Physical Layout of Your Space
Depending on local guidelines, your venue(s) may be operating with limited outdoor and indoor usable square footage and reduced staff. This makes for a challenging combination of juggling new traffic patterns while trying to reduce the physical and mental burden on staff. With contactless ordering and payment, think about the strategic placement of tables and their respective QR codes using a logical pattern that your staff will find easy to understand and recall.
If your venue supports dine-in, take-out, and delivery, use clear signage and staff guidance to make it easy for guests to know where to go for what.
Ensure QR codes are Customized and Properly Branded
With so much changing in the dining experience, make sure that the QR codes you use fit well with your physical space and your brand. There are a variety of creative ways to do this tastefully and cost-effectively.
Depending on your guest demographic, you may find a significant segment still prefers to browse a paper menu. Feel free to provide disposable menus. When designed well, your guests may find them easier to read. Because they follow the “natural order” of a meal (i.e., appetizers/salads, entrees and desserts), new guests can find comfort in having a paper menu available to browse.
Plan for Virtual Help and Real-time Feedback
Contactless ordering and payment platforms will make it easier for your guests to communicate with you. Whereas before they may have flagged a staff member down to ask for a new order, make a change, or ask a question, now they may prefer to use the same device they’re ordering on to communicate with you. Make sure your staff are prepared to respond to in-bound texts and emails and have a process in place to address ones that can’t be answered in real-time.
Also, be prepared to receive direct feedback on the experience, both the good and the bad. The best hospitality operators obsess over the guest experience. Contactless ordering and payment will give you the opportunity to get more feedback on a timely basis. This is valuable information that, if acted upon, can make a real difference in guest satisfaction and important factors like willingness to recommend and return visits.
Incorporate Rich Imagery and Multimedia
Because you can customize your contactless menu with engaging imagery, you can get beyond simply displaying your menu to actually selling it. With a user-friendly menu design complemented by high-quality photography, you can make the menu browsing experience both informative and enjoyable.
And you’re not just limited to photography. Savvy operators are incorporating video into their contactless menus to make the browsing experience more immersive and engaging.
Amp Your Social Presence with Ecommerce Features
Your contactless ordering and payment platform can also serve as an ecommerce storefront. Take advantage of the same rich imagery you share with your brand loyalists on visual platforms like Facebook and Instagram by directing followers to where to buy.
While it may not generate a significant revenue stream, particularly in the beginning, it can offset some of your social media costs and provide new ways to maintain brand loyalty.
Get Cozy with Your Data
Your contactless ordering and payment platform should allow you to get a holistic view of customer and sales information. Consider monitoring metrics such as:
- Sales Per Hour & Per Shift (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
- Tabs Per Hour & Per Shift
- Top Selling Items & High Margin F&B Items (Greatest Hits & Platinum Margins)
- Product Mix (PMIX)
- Customer Feedback
- Purchase and Repurchase Patterns
Savvy operators are gaining greater insight and control of their end-to-end customer experience using metrics like these to manage their operations, improve their customer experience, and increase their profitability.