When people think about automation in foodservice, they often picture cold, indifferent efficiency—the last things any operator wants to provide in a great customer experience. In reality, automation brings valuable efficiency gains to labor-strapped operators while also helping them provide better customer service. It does so by saving time and energy for employees so they can focus more on what humans do best: making every guest feel welcome, ensuring the food is delicious and ultimately improving the overall experience by offering more ways for customers to engage with their restaurant and staff.
A good example of this dual benefit is the use of digital ordering kiosks. They save time for employees at the counter by diverting some customers out of the line. This makes employees less stressed and busy, so they can serve more customers easily. At the same time, kiosks provide an easy shortcut for customers by letting them place their own orders without waiting in line. This improves order accuracy and even eases anxiety for customers who aren’t comfortable speaking loudly or who want a little privacy for upsizing their order.
What about the customers who may be intimidated by technology? The kiosks still improve their experience because with shorter lines, their wait is shorter. The employee serving them can take a moment to greet them with a smile, be patient while taking their order and make their experience more enjoyable. Everyone wins.
Another fast-growing use of automation is food pickup lockers. With the continued popularity of digital ordering and third-party delivery, pickup lockers solve the problem of managing dozens of bags and drinks at the pickup counter or shelf. Like kiosks, they also have benefits far beyond labor efficiency that improve the experience for both off-premise and dine-in customers.
Why it makes sense to automate order handoff
For restaurants struggling with labor shortages, adding automation to the order handoff process is an easy decision. Operators recognize that their old system of simply setting bags on a counter or shelf no longer works, and it doesn’t make sense to have a dedicated employee to hand out orders or spend time walking orders outside for curbside pickup customers.
Smart food lockers replace a haphazard collection of bags and drinks on the counter with an organized, secure system in which every order is automatically delivered to the right person at the right time.
Using smart food lockers such as those from Apex Order Pickup Solutions also streamlines order fulfillment for employees. They simply place the order in a compartment, press a button and their work is done. They don’t have to check back later, because the order can only be accessed by the person with the pickup code. No worries, no hassles.
Smart food lockers also virtually eliminate the chance that someone will accidentally (or deliberately) take an order that's not theirs. This greatly reduces remake and food costs for operators and gives employees less to worry about. Instead of having to deal with upset customers and delivery drivers whose are missing their orders, employees can focus on helping those customers who need it, delivering on the ultimate goal of restaurant hospitality: serving great food with friendly service.
How automation makes customers happy
Food lockers create the kind of pickup experience that mobile-ordering customers want—reliably fast, easy and efficient.
Off-premise customers are often busy, so making good use of their time is a priority. They want a quick, efficient experience, with no uncertainty or confusion. They especially want to know their order will be there when they arrive and that the bag they pick up will be theirs.
When restaurants use smart food lockers, customers know they'll get a notification as soon as their order is placed in it. They get a message on their phone when their order is ready, then they can go to the restaurant, scan their code and pick up their order in less than 10 seconds. There’s no standing around, awkwardly trying to get an employee’s attention to find out if their order is behind the counter.
Remember, hospitality is about comfort, and smart food lockers give customers comfort in knowing their order will ready when they arrive, they won’t have to wait, they’ll know exactly how to find it and no one else will have touched it. Talk to Apex Order Pickup Solutions to discover how easy it is to make great customer experience a priority for off-premise customers.
This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions