The boom in takeout and delivery is giving rise to new postions in the restaurant industry, as well as a revamp of some seemingly retro ones. These roles cater to a crowd wanting digital innovations, but demonstrate that operators aren’t losing focus on that personal one-on-one customer service aspect in dining. Here are some recent additions to the off-premise workforce at restaurants, from QSRs to casual dining.
A personal touch
Although technology is a driving force of many restaurants’ off-premise initiatives, some operators are hiring staff for roles that fulfill a relatively old-school function, but offer a more personalized approach via call centers, telephone ordering and curbside pickup.
Olive Garden’s new Delivery Specialist personally assists customers placing catering orders via phone, helping them pick the best selection for each diner’s needs. Previously, Olive Garden only offered pickup for catering orders, but these delivery specialists also deliver the meals, bringing that personalized service right to a customer’s door.
Red Robin’s focus on off-premise includes an increased push for call centers that accept phone orders. In May, CEO Denny Post told investors that guests prefer to speak to a human to make sure orders are accurate given the level of customization Red Robin’s burgers offer. Employees at its call center submit orders directly into an integrated KDS system through an online platform. Currently, Post said, the call center services about 100 units with the brand continuing in batches to expand the reach across the country.
Red Robin has also introduced To-Go Specialists, team members at each corporate store to help facilitate these off-premise orders. Their role includes bringing orders to customer’s cars curbside, something the chain’s guests—especially moms with young children—have expressed interest in, Post says.
From behind the counter to the floor
McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook has discussed reallocating labor positions in the fast-food giant’s restaurants, saying that “[w]e need less people behind the front counter taking orders.” One change Easterbrook has suggested is designating select staffers as “hospitality service employees.” These team members will help customers who place orders through options other than counter service, such as kiosks, which are part of the burger giant’s Restaurant of the Future rollout.
A similar role, Guest Experience Leader, exists in McDonald’s Canadian locations already, where staffers assist customers ordering at kiosks on-site. As automation and digital ordering becomes more the norm, McDonald’s is increasing its focus on face-to-face customer service in-store and not just at point of sale, including a push in recent years of returning to tableside service.
An integrated future
Emphasizing the rising importance of integrated technology for brands, Wingstop recently created a new position of Chief Experience Officer. The role—filled by Stacy Peterson, Wingstop’s former chief information officer—has a strong focus on customer service and guest experience throughout Wingstop’s social media channels, which includes social and voice-activated ordering on digital devices. Wingstop credits these types of social off-premise innovations for a digital sales increase to more than 20% of the company’s total sales. The Chief Experience Officer role will utilize customer feedback to develop Wingstop’s digital strategy from corporate all the way to back-of-house and guest-facing operations as well.