Leveraging Back-office Restaurant Technology to Improve the Customer Experience

Your back-office restaurant technology can be used to help grow both guest loyalty and your business.

Restaurants are devoting time, energy, and marketing resources to improve the customer experience. However, the benefits of improving the customer experience go beyond just getting better reviews.

Ultimately, many of the same things that help your guest experience also end up helping support restaurant operations as well. You can use back-office restaurant technology to support a positive guest experience in areas such as payment, inventory and food costs, and staff scheduling.

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POS integration enables flexible payment options

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants implemented new safety measures designed to encourage social distancing and limit points of contact. Many of these protocols continue to remain important to guests, and some changes have also made the dining experience more convenient.

Today’s restaurant guests have different preferences that are still evolving. Offering flexible payment options that match new customer expectations, driven by your back-office technology, is critical.

To support this effort, your point of sale (POS) system, your payment methods, and your restaurant accounting system should all be fully integrated. With these POS integration connections, you can enable flexible payment options that meet customer needs.

Streamlining payment options is a win-win: your customers have a better experience, and you ensure that your operations and accounting data remains up to date. If you are weighing what payment options to offer, where should you start?

Leveraging QR Codes & Mobile Pay

The technology behind QR codes has been around for a long time, but the popularity of this tool grew exponentially during the pandemic. QR barcodes allow for “touchless technology,” minimizing the amount of contact needed for a transaction. With QR codes, guests needn’t touch a menu or even a paper receipt. The convenient solution allows customers to remain comfortable during a dining experience.

QR codes can be used to streamline how guests reserve a spot in line, as well as how a customer views a menu and places an order. According to the National Restaurant Association’s2021 State of the Restaurant Industry report,  since March of 2020, half of full-service restaurant operators have added a digital version of their menu that guests can access by scanning a QR code.

In addition, QR codes are also used to drive mobile pay options, where guests can complete payments and add tips via their smartphones. According to the same State of the Restaurant Industry report,  “to help avoid person-to-person contact, some 40% of operators across all six segments say they added a contactless or mobile payment option,” since March of 2020.

In many cases, mobile payment can even be more efficient than paying with a traditional card. Customers are already using mobile pay for online shopping and daily errands, so adding mobile pay to your restaurant can help make ordering from your restaurant just as convenient. Whether facilitated by a QR code or a mobile app, mobile payments can help attract and keep customers.

Offering Multiple Convenient Payment Options

You want your customers to be able to pay wherever they want, and whenever they want. Today’s consumers are already used to online e-commerce offering multiple payment options. Offering flexible payment options at your restaurant, from mobile pay to pay-at-the-table options, can help create loyal customers.

When mobile pay options are secure, reliable, and efficient, these options offer a convenient alternative that can help create loyal customers.

However, not all your customers may want to process payments on their phone. Some consumers may prefer another minimal-contact payment option, such as handheld credit card readers brought to the table. This can allow them to avoid waiting in line to pay, or waiting for the server to bring the check, run the payment, and bring back the receipt. For customers who are on the go, paying at the table can give peace of mind.

Payment options that are contactless or minimize contact may be here to stay. As a restaurant owner or operator, enabling these multiple payment options may even help your operations by both improving customer experience and offering operational efficiencies for table turns.

Tight inventory control ensures menu item availability

Other back-office restaurant technology tools impact the customer experience and can also provide business benefits.

Your inventory management software is key to managing both your food costs and providing a quality, consistent guest experience. With tight inventory control, your team can accurately track inventory and use that data strategically.

For example, up-to-date inventory numbers are the base of actual versus theoretical (AvT) food cost analysis. By comparing your theoretical food cost (what you should have spent to prepare menu items) to your actual food cost (what you spent, accounting for errors and waste), you can track the variance in costs.

Your AvT variance points directly to where you can improve your food cost. With this restaurant reporting information in hand, you are better positioned to streamline your food spend. Ultimately, a more efficient food cost allows you to focus your food budget on the best quality ingredients at the best prices, benefitting your guests.

In addition, leveraging restaurant sales forecasting can give your store-level managers a data-driven foundation for making inventory orders, helping prevent over- or under-ordering. When your restaurant can keep consistent, fresh inventory stock, you prevent negative guest experiences like “86’d” menu items or using ingredients that aren’t fresh.

Finally, restaurant accounting technology can also be used to optimize your menu for your guests. Menu engineering tools map out items by profitability and popularity, showing you how menu items compare. With this information in hand, you can make decisions about pricing or promotions that don’t negatively impact customer satisfaction.

Employee scheduling software helps staff restaurant appropriately

Back-office software tools also play a critical role in another significant part of the customer experience: staffing.

Because your labor cost is such a large part of your prime cost, it is important to work to optimize labor spend. Overstaffed schedules add up to a large labor cost over time.

However, understaffing can have a negative effect on the guest experience as well. In many cases, guests will remember customer service as much, if not more than, the actual food experience at a restaurant.

Back-office labor tracking and scheduling tools can help you find the optimal labor that balances efficiency and a positive guest experience.

For example, utilizing a tool like employee scheduling software can help streamline labor costs. A central labor dashboard can empower scheduling managers to make schedules faster, using templates and centralized shift request information from employees. Restaurant owners and operators can add in custom labor models and labor metric goals by location. A labor tool can also provide solutions like overtime monitoring or actual versus scheduled labor cost restaurant reporting.

If you can strategically utilize your labor where it is needed most, you can optimize your labor spend while still maintaining the best experience possible for your guests.

Conclusion

Your back-office restaurant technology isn’t just for improving operations. Modern back-office solutions can also be used to improve the experience that your guests have when they dine at your restaurant or order deliver and takeout. In today’s age of online customer reviews and ever-changing guest expectations, it’s more important than ever to use every tool you can to improve the customer experience.

If you would like to use back-office tools that can help you increase efficiency and boost profits, consider a comprehensive, restaurant-specific management solution. Restaurant365 is an all-in-one restaurant management system incorporating reporting tools, restaurant accounting software, restaurant operations software, inventory management software, payroll + HR software, and scheduling software into a cloud-based platform that’s fully integrated with your POS system, as well as to your food and beverage vendors, and bank.

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