We know what those "friction points" are. In the Navy the process was called “hurry up and wait”. In Hospitality it is similar – all that down time, mindless vacuum, endless space, lost time – as our guest waited to check-in or have their food order processed. The wait was a lull they expected, planned for, and were subtly discouraged by. It was an irritant!
So, we courted technology to remove those barriers with the restaurant industry leading the dynamic. It appears to be working, particularly with the fast food sector. Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera Bread, is now a believer and innovator. As stated in a New York Times article of June 21, 2014, “Hi, I’m a Tablet. I’ll be Your Waiter Tonight”, he shared the goal: “…to eliminate friction points so that customers have a better experience, because if they have a better experience, it will help our business”. Pretty straight forward that!
We have three primary functions here: product ordering, entertaining the customers and payment for the food. Each has a bounty of options and execution challenges, starting with the point that a customer just might be put-off by technology. Of course, if they are accompanied by anyone under fifty, this might not be a problem.
Ownership of my order, as I click away on my hamburger supreme – forget the pickle, medium rare, slaw, not potato salad, Diet Pepsi with two ice cubes. Apply my coupon to the order, too! I got the power.
I am further engaged as you entertain me. I like games, links, awards, promotions and the like. Enter me in Trivia, let me connect with Facebook, even write an e-mail, catch up on my favorite blog, post a selfie. Just do not delve too deeply into my privacy.
An easy swipe of my credit card. Bam, and I am out the door. The enterprise might even catch my preferences for the next visit, for I will return.
So, at least at Panera, most of the “Friction Points” have been removed, certainly waiting in line. At restaurants where new technology has been installed, orders are up as well as profits. But, there is always room for a smile and a thank you!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, servicing our clients from offices and resources in the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions and helping clients such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the National Football League, Avis Budget Group, Madison Square Garden, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit www.LRAworldwide.com.
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