By Christine Kern, contributing writer
New system is part of growing trend, designed to improve customer service and efficiency
Microsoft announced that Hardee’s will be piloting a self-order kiosk solution to improve customer service at its restaurants. The kiosks are designed to allow customers to customize and place their own orders.
“Hardee’s is changing the way it interacts with its customers, making the ordering process more streamlined, personal and fast,” Tracy Issel, general manager of Worldwide Retail, Consumer Goods, Hospitality and Travel at Microsoft, said in the press release. “This is just one example of how Microsoft is giving retailers new ways to reinvent the customer experience.”
The pilot is scheduled for 30 initial restaurants, with roll-outs to additional restaurants over the next few months, though no specific timeline was announced. The kiosks offer POS purchasing, order entry and menu updates, as well as reporting and personnel management capabilities.
“Our target market of young, hungry millennials, as well as younger and older customers, love the new ordering kiosks,” Tom Lindblom, senior vice president and chief technology officer at CKE Restaurants, said in the release. “The self-ordering kiosk gives the customer a fun, interactive and user-friendly way to control their order. At CKE, we understand that customer expectations are changing quickly, and our relationship with Microsoft allows us to enhance the restaurant experience and better serve our customers’ needs and expectations.”
According to CKE, deployment of the kiosks produced a dramatic reduction in wait times and an increase in per-ticket totals at Hardee’s restaurants, while giving customers control over their customized order.
And one out of every three customers at the Nashville location is using the kiosks. Increased sales and more efficient work streams throughout store operations have also been generated by the kiosks, and shift workers are able to focus more time on customer service.
The chain is hoping that the kiosks will provide a positive ROI, and boost sales and reduce costs. As a blog post from Kiosk Marketplace points out, kiosks have a number of benefits, when properly implemented, including improving the customer purchasing experience, increasing customer base, reducing costs, gaining efficiency through diverse applications, and boosting job satisfaction among employees.
In fact, Kiosk Marketplace explains, order kiosks are making a comeback in the restaurant industry, particularly in the bid to win over the Millennial crowd. NEC Display Solutions Vice President of Product Marketing and Solutions Operations of Americas Richard Ventura explained: "Let's be honest: when you're dealing with millennials, they want quick, easy transactions and communication on their level. Technology is on their level – they aren't going to go back and forth from a counter. Kiosks give them the opportunity to interact on their level of comfort," Ventura said.
"For example, an older couple will approach a restaurant counter and take their time when they order. They're going to think about what they want. Millennials already know and they've made their decision by the time they get to the counter – there are no opportunities for upsell, and millennials, being accustomed to technology, like a sensory experience – to touch and feel things. Kiosks give them that opportunity."