Self-Service Kiosks and Customer Behaviors

A major factor for success in the restaurant industry is understanding your customers — what they want (in terms of products and services), what they need, and how they think. This can be a challenge because customer preferences are ever-shifting. It is interesting to observe how changes in certain areas (such as technology) can affect people’s psyches. Kiosks, for example, have been changing the way customers behave over the last several years. Using self-service kiosks to allow customers to manage their own ordering at your restaurant can have several effects on the way they purchase and how they interact with your business.

1. Removing Social Pressures

It is common for people to feel self-conscious when placing a food order with a stranger (cashier or wait staff). They worry, rightly or not, about being judged for what they are ordering (“Does he really need the extra-large fries?”) or for how long they are taking to place their order (“She’s holding up the line with her questions about gluten-free items”). Making self-service kiosks an available option removes these sources of stress.

Additionally, in recent years, customers have shown an increasing preference for transactions that do not involve interaction with other people. 65% of customers reported being more willing to visit a restaurant if self-service kiosks were available. For many people, since then world events have reinforced the desire for social distancing and reduced contact.

When their social anxiety is reduced by ordering via kiosk instead of cashier, customers also tend toward higher ticket sizes. They order more food than they would normally because they aren’t concerned about someone being critical of their choices, so they get what they really want. This satisfaction will keep them coming back.

2. An Increase in “Special Instructions”

Besides the limited interaction and reduced social pressure, other advantages of kiosk ordering that people have come to appreciate and demand include convenience and efficiency. Self-service orders go directly from the customer to the kitchen, reducing or eliminating the possibility of errors. The knowledge that they can (to paraphrase a famous burger joint) “have it their way” and get their order prepared correctly has led to another change in customer behavior. On average, there is a 14% rise in special instructions when people use kiosks. Extra onion, sauce on the side, no pickle? No problem!

This increase can also be attributed to the flexibility in the amount of time spent placing an order.

Often, people don’t want to be a bother when speaking to a person (nobody wants to be seen as “THAT guy”), so they choose to limit the complexity of their requests when ordering at a counter. With self-service kiosks, they can relax and specify exactly what they like — feeding not only their bodies but their level of satisfaction with the dining experience.

Restaurant Revenue Boosting CTA3. Increased Growth in Orders of Less Popular Menu Items

The ability to order the amount of food they actually want and customize it the way they prefer fuels an increase in spending: customers spend up to 30% more when using self-service kiosks. Another factor in this behavioral trend is the ability of a kiosk to upsell. Self-service kiosks can be programmed to consistently upsell by offering information about deals, discounts and combos. They also provide more product information (such as ingredients or nutritional values) than is available on traditional menus, as well as tantalizing images of the food to stimulate impulse buys.

Savvy restaurant owners can use this spending behavior to their advantage. Want to sell an excess inventory of particular items, or promote meals that you’re trying to get to the top of your “most popular” list? Upsell these items on the kiosks while your customers are placing their orders.

Influence Customer Behavior with the Ordering Options They Want

The old adage that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” can be applied to consumers. The lifetime value of an existing loyal customer almost always outweighs the potential value of a new one. One key to retaining your customers (besides offering great food) is understanding what they want and how they will respond to certain options. Use your knowledge of the customer psyche and the influence of self-service kiosks to your benefit. You’ll boost revenue and customer retention by implementing these restaurants kiosk solutions.