The restaurant business may have changed forever thanks to COVID-19. It will be several years before we know for sure what the ‘new normal’ consists of but, odds are that things will be changed at least for some extended period of time.
What we do know for certain right now is that a sizable portion of customers still feels uncomfortable eating in restaurants. What can be done to make them feel comfortable when dining out? Here are five ideas:
1. Offer greetings and instructions
When guests come through the door, it’s important to greet them even when it’s not a pandemic. But, when it is a pandemic, it even more important. That’s because it’s the first time you get to make a first impression. And, you want that first impression to inspire confidence that the restaurant is clean, conscientious and attentive to guests’ needs. The greeter should exude those qualities and also tell the guests about any special rules your restaurant may have in place to ensure everyone’s health and comfort. If there’s social distancing in place or a need to access menus via a smartphone (see #2), the greeter can provide those instructions.
2. Introduce mobile menus accessible through smartphones
Do menus have germs on them? Who really knows but some guests will think there are so let them access your menu via a smartphone. If necessary, you can create a simple PDF version of your menu and upload it to a link on your website. Make the link easy to remember and type so that the wait staff can say it and spell it if needed and the guests can find the URL easily.
3. Let guests use self-order kiosks
Self-order kiosks have lots of benefits and not just during pandemics. When guests can order for themselves, there’s less of a chance of making a mistake because the guest is entering the order themselves. And, research has shown that guests will order more when using a kiosk than they will when ordering from a fellow human. Of course, during the pandemic, you can make the guests feel better by having the staff wipe the screens down before the guests order. This will make them feel more comfortable.
4. Introduce tableside payments
Remember that EMV mandate from a few years back? Well, now might be a good time to speak with the company that helped with your EMV implementation and ask about using EMV terminals for tableside payments (like they do in Europe). Again, bringing the swipe (or dip) terminal to the table, allows the guest to use the card themselves. In turn, the wait staff never needs to worry about handling the guests’ cards. The wait staff should, of course, wipe down the equipment after the guest leaves and before the next guest needs to use it.
5. Provide contactless payments
For bonus points, there’s no need for guests to use cards at all. If possible, set up contactless payments for guests who prefer not touch anything. Many kiosks already contain this technology and they can accommodate contactless payments. Or, you could go the tableside route and ask your EMV provider if they can help facilitate contactless as well as chip card payments.
Want to learn more about how restaurant technology can help ease guests’ fears during this COVID-19 pandemic? Contact us today for a demo.