Building a Fast-Food Restaurant Self-Order Kiosk Platform Your Customers will Love

When it comes to the conversation of how to go about introducing kiosks to new or existing fast food or QSR outlets, we hear a lot of talk about customer benefits of queue beating, increasing revenue and up-selling.

If you are reading this, you are no doubt already convinced by the business case and believe it is right for your customers. But how do you go about actually building a self-order kiosk, payment and CRM system?

Faced with a myriad of relatively new kiosk vendors all selling you the “solution” comprising of software and hardware, how do you know what is really right for you and the strategic thinking and planning to build the right platform for your individual site or estate requirements?

From my work with Tossed, Chiktopia and Magic Wrap to name just a few, no matter the individual nature of your IT architecture, systems, store design, integration or technical stack requirements, there is one common denominator that always shapes the build of a successful self-order kiosk platform.

Your customer.

At the heart of every hospitality operator’s business is the customer experience like no other business. And developing a self-order kiosk, payment and CRM platform is no different. Your customer comes first no matter the technology.

Everything from your UX strategy, UI design, app functionality through to hardware type, enclosure design and payment options, must be customer centric.

A customer centric thought process should lead every element of your project strategy:

  • Technology stack to create your touchscreen user customer experience
  • Milestones to kiosk deployment
  • Custom software development solution Verses off-the-shelf solution

Creating Value in Your Self-ordering Kiosk Experience

Our latest story of how Chiktopia created its self-ordering kiosk offering explains the customer centric approach very well. Founded and led by some of the UK’s biggest names in food hospitality, Chiktopia was created with a vision to establish a rival fast food brand to exceed the likes of KFC and Nandos.

As a new concept, the business strategy was firmly founded in a customer centric approach to meet the new and future generation of digital diners. Chiktopia, like most others, knew kiosks would reduce order queues, that was obvious.

Its focus was to deliver outstanding quality fast food chicken dishes to compete with Nandos but at the speed of KFC, with a level of customisation, convenience and customer autonomy like no other operator in the UK.

Just as other projects I’ve worked on, the key to building Chiktopia’s unique self-ordering kiosk offering was to initially look beyond the technology and to define what Chiktopia’s customers’ needs were and align them with the core values of the Brand’s service.

To do this, it is always essential to understand your target customer’s pains and needs and build your kiosk solution to meet these. Everything else – UX strategy, UI design and functionality should be built based on your core value. In the case of Chiktopia, this was to marry outstanding taste with the latest technology to offer good value food that customers would crave and advocate.

When it comes to getting self-order kiosk design right, we always work with our customer to really understand their customer profile and ask a few very simple questions and create a value proposition.

Just like many other operators who have gone down the self-order kiosk road, enabling food ordering to be made frictionless and as quickly, conveniently and customisable as possible, whilst maintaining that all important human service touch and flexible payment options.

Chiktopia Example:

The 3 Key Milestones of Self-order Kiosk Provisioning  

With the customer firmly in the centre of how the self-order solution needs to be shaped like to create true value for guests, there are a number of key stages to developing the self-order kiosk system and decision to be made as to whether an off-the-shelf solution or a bespoke solution will be required.

1. Designing the User Experience

The self-serve technology must provide outcomes that your customers value and consider worthwhile with the role in processing their own order. With this in mind, the UX interface must be immersive and intuitive to avoid customer frustration and staff intervention.

The platform must enable quick and easy editing for new products and promotions.

The UX must be perceived by the customer as being ultra-convenient, providing more choice and giving the user control of the experience.

Whilst each kiosk UX will be slightly different dependent on the customer needs, there are a few things many operators are choosing to include:

  • Get help button: No one wants customers frustrated by not knowing how to use the self-order kiosk. So, in addition to staff availability, many interfaces include a get help button to educate the user, whilst also alerting staff to come and help.
  • Eat in or take away: Giving diners the option at the order point to eat in or take away enables the provisioning of table service by order tracking for dine in customers, whilst also allowing for kitchen preparation of how food to delivered.
  • Customisation: Giving guests the freedom to tailor shape their meal is fast becoming an essential ingredient. From portion size, to sides, sauces and meal deals, creating an intuitive customised order journey is key to UX success.
  • User interface-design: Crafting your interface-design is an art. It needs to reflect your brand whilst working on a digital screen that will be pleasing the customer – and sell your food and beverages. From colours, graphics, fonts and sizing, the user interface-design takes time and skill to get right.
  • Payments: For many operators, providing both cash and cashless payment options is important to cater for different customer demographics. Deciding on integrated payment terminals, wireless receipt printers and printed QR codes for cash payments at a till, is an important step.
  • CRM: In the modern world of omni-channel customer purchasing, getting the right CRM system is vital, not only to collect critical customer data, but to enable cross platform loyalty programs, personalisation and click and collect.
  • Kiosk Enclosure: This is an area some people do not focus enough on. But if we are being truly customer centric, then we need to accommodate for different needs of customers whilst ordering. How long do we envisage they will take to browse and order? Do they need privacy or a ledge to place personal items? Do we need to accommodate for disabled users? And we mustn’t forget our Brand. The self-serve kiosk should become native into the interior and Brand style of our business.

2. Operations and IT

Whilst the customer is king in kiosk self-order solution design, ensuring all key operational and management tools and tech are present, is just as important if the order to delivery is going to be smooth and an enhanced customer experience delivered.

  • Admin Dashboard: Getting all the features you need to make operational management easy and quick is a must. From remote and onsite product editing, price setting for eat-in and take out, table service, receipt type, return resolutions to real time head office data viewing, working out everything you need now and in the future is a priority.
  • Integrating the technology stack: With decisions made on all key software applications, kitchen management, bump bars, BoH and PoS requirements, next comes the fine art of weaving everything together into seamlessly data hub. Depending on how open your existing vendors are to integration, whether the APIs are open or closed, determines the complexity, cost and timescales to achieve this process. But with the right kiosk software design and consultancy, this shouldn’t be impossible.
  • Network Infrastructure: With everything in place, ensuring your network infrastructure has the capacity for the kiosk offering is essential. No business or customer wants to the system down due to internet network failure.

3. The Pilot

Testing the Kiosk self-order solution onsite is crucial. Following a thorough process of internal and technical testing, it can be a good idea to invite friends and family to the first outlet as a pre-pilot to try out the new self-order kiosk and food delivery. Their feedback can be invaluable with all bugs or customer frustrations ironed out before the official pilot.

Next comes the public opening of the pilot site to truly test the success of the kiosk customer journey. At this stage it is important to capture all customer views and experiences from staff and through an incentivised customer feedback process.

With all good and bad comments, customer pain points and gains gathered, and operational and management learning acquired, the kiosk software solution is ready for final tweaks and adaptions.

Round-Up

So, to sum up the best approach for building a fast food and QSR self-order kiosk platform with customers at the heart of it:

  1. Make sure you know what your core values are and your target audience
  2. Every decision you make on UI/UX design, features and payments should be driven by your customers needs and how you want your brand to deliver value
  3. Private and public testing is an absolute top gather real user feedback to enable you to create a kiosk customer journey of distinction.

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