December 2, 2023


Professional waiter experts

How restaurant technology is changing customer service forever

As restaurant “help wanted” advertisements arrive at a fever pitch all through the industry’s latest labor disaster, an early draft of the 2022 restaurant model may possibly glance like an oversized vending device with robots in the back again and food items pickup slots out front. But even though automation technologies is on the increase along with ballooning business turnover charges, dining establishments are not offering up on buyer support: They’re just transforming the occupation description.

1 BurgerFi location in Jupiter, Fla., for illustration, has released a robotic server named Patty that can deliver foods, permitting human servers to tag-team some of their responsibilities and even observe the robotic all over to make sure it is undertaking its job appropriately. Patty uses digital camera technology to maneuver its way close to a cafe and avoid obstacles like chairs or compact children.

“When we introduce technological innovation, it is not just for the sake of carrying out it,” BurgerFi main technology officer Karl Goodhew explained. “We want to believe about it, make guaranteed it’s undertaking what it is intended to be executing and that the staff members and prospects are happy, somewhat than just rolling the robotic out to all of our stores with no screening.”

Patty15.jpegPhotograph: BurgerFi has introduced a robotic server named Patty that can deliver meals.

Patty may well be at only just one BurgerFi locale for now, but there are a great deal of other client company-linked technologies that the burger chain has released at its more than 100 models in excess of the previous calendar year to shift personnel responsibilities and generate a additional easy practical experience. 

The firm has also been introducing kiosks, which whilst not new to the market, have adjusted the way BurgerFi’s workforce run. With a 75-80% client adoption price, workforce are now a lot more most likely to expend time answering concerns and supporting customers navigate in-retail store technological know-how than manually having orders. BurgerFi’s new tableside QR codes with created-in NFC chips have had the exact same outcome on shopper-server interactions.

This summer time, BurgerFi will roll out in-auto purchasing to shopper autos with 5G technology, a vital piece of off-premises tech that will further relieve worker tasks, as staff will be able to know when customers arrive and tell them when their food stuff will be prepared, reducing various actions from the service system.  

But irrespective of these new technologies, Goodhew reported that there has been no minimize in labor hours or decreased variety of staff members at a retail outlet. The new technologies in its place let for redeployment of jobs.

“You can now divert all those labor hours from getting orders to extra price-add routines these kinds of as serving prospects who will need exclusive awareness, upselling, heading all over the restaurant, generating positive that clients are pleased,” he said.

Goodhew emphasized the great importance of the human element of consumer provider interactions, even if the certain jobs evolve. Nonetheless, he did acknowledge that in the quickly-relaxed organization, there are constantly clients that want to restrict human interaction as much as achievable.

“If a client would like fingers-off interactions, we let for that buying their food items will be fast and productive,” he mentioned. “But if a shopper needs to talk with an individual and inquire what personnel recommend, and so on., we can do that way too.”

Tom Ferguson, CEO of 16-unit, Durham, N.C.-primarily based Increase Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken, has found that the former variety of consumer is turning into far more typical in the age of electronic usefulness engineering. Over the earlier calendar year, the most significant technological transform the emerging breakfast chain released was heated food stuff lockers to simplicity the increasing off-premises demand of its clientele.


Emerging breakfast chain Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken is rolling out heated food lockers.

Although the foods lockers are not obtainable at all outlets nonetheless, the technology is by now earning employees’ life a lot easier. Now, when a shipping driver displays up, an personnel punches their identify into the food locker so they’ll be in a position to determine wherever their foodstuff is (or if it is all set but) with out any further ways or interactions with employees. The corporation also added kiosks recently, which took absent an additional degree of interaction involving employee and buyer.

Ferguson does not feel that any level of client service good quality has been missing as a result of these adjustments.

“From the kitchen area viewpoint, it manufactured all people operate closer as a staff there is not your classic battle between front of the residence and again of the dwelling simply because all people is back again of the home,” he mentioned. “The meals likely into the lockers just tends to make the client choose care of on their own. We’ve stripped absent steps for the employees, and each and every piece of technological innovation we have added is intended to make their lives less difficult.”

For each new piece of technological know-how Increase adds, he explained, the firm designed a commitment to get two assistance components away so that his employees’ employment do not come to be a lot more complicated.

The variations have improved place of work dynamic, but also, Ferguson feels like buyers really do not need to have the very same level of classic hospitality as they experienced in the past. For case in point, when Increase included the food stuff lockers, the enterprise also phased out curbside pickup and went cashless.

“As lengthy as the food items is there, warm and correct, then the buyer is pleased,” he mentioned. “I didn’t really comprehend how a lot of people today truly did not want to converse to any individual in the retail outlet anyway.”


For just about every new piece of technological innovation Increase provides, the firm requires two company things away.

Around the earlier yr, due to the fact introducing the kiosks and foods lockers, corporate retail outlet product sales grew by 30%, whilst gains doubled. On top of that, customer complaints have dropped drastically.  

“Instead of the cashier messing up an purchase or currently being snarky that day, [the kiosks] modified the whole dynamic,” Ferguson reported.

Scott Lawton, CEO and cofounder of rising taco chain Bartaco, fully improved the restaurants’ operational dynamic through the pandemic. As dining places started reopening final calendar year, Bartaco added tableside digital ordering and swapped the hourly server position absolutely for a salaried assistance chief posture.

Beforehand, the 22-device Californian taco chain utilized 10-15 waiters for each location who collected paper order kinds from patrons and punched them into the pc. Now, each cafe has about 4 to six assistance leaders who act as know-how guides for patrons with questions about QR code purchasing.

“They’re a cross between a waiter and an Apple Retail store staff,” Lawton mentioned. “They’re also there to do all the other hospitality things that a waiter could do, like examine in with you and make absolutely sure you’re pleased.”

Bartaco did not lay off any personnel to reach this new dynamic the company rehired the workers who arrived again immediately after pandemic-associated lockdowns and just did not have to recruit any much more staff like several other places to eat struggled to do.

“I would say it was almost certainly the top rated 3rd of our waitstaff, the people today who did this for a dwelling and really cared about it, have been the types that became the salaried positions,” Lawton explained. “We invested a ton of time focusing on these assistance leaders, and … I feel they are the ones who make the dynamic [at Bartaco]. We did not attempt to replace humans with technology, we just reallocated the human beings so they can actually lean into the customer working experience.”

Lawton recalls how one particular tech-averse consumer in Boston was a short while ago confident by a services leader to give QR code purchasing a try soon after some big hesitation.

“I needed to dislike this,” Lawton recollects the client indicating. “But I faucet my cellphone and my margaritas and guacamole present up.”

Call Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]

Abide by her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi