26 Jun 2019 | Blog
When faced with the idea of mobile ordering and payment technology, a lot of business owners fear that this will disrupt the human interaction that goes on between staff and their guests. But the reality is, many staff find it difficult to deliver great service to their customers consistently, particularly when they are run off their feet trying to serve the needs of multiple patrons at once. So, we interviewed a former waitress to understand her experiences and get her point of view on whether technology like TableTime would have been helpful. Here’s what she had to say…
The perspective of a former waitress
As someone who was employed as a waitress for many years, I am intimately acquainted with the daily frustrations of working within the hospitality industry. Although I loved interacting with customers, and playing an important role in their dining experience, it was sometimes difficult to provide exceptional customer service. Especially when the café was unexpectedly busy, customers were annoyed, or mistakes were made. In retrospect, I wish my workplace had used a mobile ordering platform like TableTime to streamline the ordering process. I am sure that giving customers control of how and when they make their orders and payments would have allowed me to perform more tasks, focus on customer service and alleviate day-to-day stress.
Improving Time Management
Customer service is arguably the most important thing your business can do to create customer satisfaction, regular patrons, and stand out against the competition. However, delivering memorable and efficient customer service takes time and energy. Providing excellent customer service sometimes took a backseat when I was a waitress because so much of my time was spent taking orders from customers, feeding those orders into a computer, further explaining complicated orders to the kitchen, double checking that that food was what the customer had asked for, and then working the cash register. I would have loved the opportunity to engage with customers on an intimate level, going above and beyond to ensure they were having an enjoyable experience, but it was all we could do to just keep our heads above water, especially on busy shifts.
Working alongside a mobile ordering platform like TableTime, where customers can input their own orders and make mobile payments, would have freed up a substantial amount of time to perform other customer service duties, like ensuring the establishment was clean, food was delivered promptly, plates were cleared away at the appropriate time, and upselling by offering drinks and specials. Furthermore, this time could have also been spent getting to know my customers, forming relationships, and ascertaining their satisfaction with the service and food. I believe that focusing on relationships instead of manually entering orders would have created more regular customers, and would have led to more recommendations and five star reviews.
Avoiding Confrontations with Difficult Customers
Although working as a waitress was an incredibly rewarding experience, dealing with difficult customers could be very unpleasant. I still think about some of the nastier comments that I received from disgruntled patrons of a café I worked in. Almost all of these confrontations arose when customers had been waiting a long time for me to take their order. Although the issue was always the result of understaffing or an unexpected rush, I always took these confrontations personally, and sometimes carried that criticism with me for the remainder of my shift. This impacted my ability to work quickly and efficiently, and made it difficult to provide excellent customer service. I would have appreciated working at a business that had a mobile ordering platform, because it would streamline and simplify the ordering and payment process, and therefore avoid the issues that led to some of the more intense complaints.
Removing Human Error
Taking orders can be a confusing process, especially when customers are all talking at once, speaking quickly, or changing their minds again and again. It’s no wonder that wait staff often put orders through that are incorrect. At my workplace, even the smallest mistake could lead to customer dissatisfaction. Furthermore, extreme business or a sudden influx of orders could lead to orders being misplaced or staff forgetting to give the order to the kitchen. Using a mobile ordering app like TableTime would have ensured that orders were input correctly during busy times. It would also have put the customer in control of ensuring their order, and all the specific instructions that accompanied it, was correct and reached the kitchen directly.
Allowing the customers to make mobile payments also reduces the risk of staff and customers making mistakes when it comes to making a payment. When I worked as a waitress, customers would abruptly leave directly after they made a pay-wave payment on their credit card, but sometimes these transactions were denied! Furthermore, sometimes customers would forget to pay altogether. The beauty of mobile payments is that food won’t be prepared and delivered until the payment is made, so embarrassing human error can be avoided.
Hospitality staff can be put under a lot of stress, particularly during peak times. I remember that no matter if it was a quiet weekday lunch hour, or a busy Sunday brunch, patrons always expected excellent service, which put a lot of pressure on myself and the other staff members to move quickly, make no error and keep smiling. Using a mobile ordering platform like TableTime gives control back to the customers, but also gives control back to the staff. There is one less task for the staff to worry about, so they can get back to serving their customers’ food quickly, efficiently and happily.
Giving staff the time and the means to do their jobs to the best of their ability will keep them motivated and engaged in their work, especially when so many of us enter the profession because we love interacting with people and providing exceptional customer service experiences.