The big names in the restaurant industry are starting to adopt technologies like kiosks and digital signage at a much faster pace. McDonald's, for example, has deployed "Create your own taste" kiosks at multiple locations, which allow customers to craft their own custom burgers. Restaurants in the fast casual industry are also beginning to see the benefits of deploying indoor and outdoor technologies such as kiosks and digital signage.
The Johnny Rockets restaurant chain, for example, deployed touchscreen kiosks, video walls and a digital board menu at its new chain, Johnny Rockets. The company is using these technologies alongside simple outfits for employees to create a "millennial-friendly environment." This story reveals a key to deploying tools such as digital signage; your tools need to craft a good customer experience.
"It's no longer about just changing your static menu to a digital sign with moving pictures," Jodi Wallace, chief marketing officer, Acrelec America formally known as HyperActive Technologies, said in an interview. "It's about having a strategic view of the entire customer interaction and how to integrate all the potential customer touchpoints (the drive thru, indoor environment, mobile ordering, customer loyalty, website and social media/marketing campaigns) to create a stellar customer experience."
Indoor digital overhead menus are one of the key digital signage applications for fast casual environments. Customers can look at those back-lit menus to get a good idea of what they want to order. These deployments, however, are "only the tip of the digital iceberg," according to Wallace.
"If you want to get someone’s attention and excite them about your menu, the menu has to move. Burgers have to sizzle, hot coffee has to steam, chocolate has to melt over the donut," Wallace said.
Fast casual restaurants can also use digital signage to promote certain items or update product information to create a more dynamic experience.
"Fast casuals can bring their menus to life, placing the attention where they want it. They can promote a new menu item, and even schedule for a certain daypart," Wallace said. "Digital menus make it easier for restaurants to change items, prices calories – all of that from one location."
Digital signage on the outdoor front can help provide a more focused menu experience for fast casual drive-thrus. With traditional displays, restaurants had no choice but to showcase their entire menu from breakfast to dinner. Digital signage can help solve this issue, Tegan Worral , marketing coordinator of VC Media & Design said in a blog.
"Digital menus can be adjusted and scheduled to change according to the time of day. For example, a breakfast menu can be scheduled to only appear between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., being replaced by the all-day promotion for the remainder of the day," Worral wrote. "It can also offer greater flexibility for promotions and help unclutter visually busy menu boards, which can accelerate order-taking and improve order accuracy."
Self-order kiosks can provide easy access to menus, enable customized orders and reduce lines. Kiosks, however, need several elements in play to work effectively. If more people are ordering food through the kiosk, restaurants need to have the right number of employees to meet the demand. If a kiosk causes service to slow down because too many people are ordering, it has harmed customer experience not helped it.
Kiosks also need to have a clear menu structure that is easy to navigate. No one wants to go through ten pages just to get to their favorite item. The kiosk also needs a good touchscreen to ensure order accuracy.
The key element
The key element at play, whether for digital signage or kiosks, is to craft a solution that improves the customer experience. To accomplish this, you to need to get a vendor "that provides hardware, software and service – all working together on a technology platform to manage the digital devices, software and content," according to Wallace.
The goal is to make the customer happy, not to deploy a fancy device.