Today we continue our mobile point-of-sale short series. Yesterday we talked about the fact that newer, more advanced mobile capabilities are reinvigorating food and beverage service options in the hospitality industry. Today we’re sharing insights from operators who have embraced mobile POS.
True, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. With increasing adoption, common problem areas began to emerge. In response, we’ve outlined some insights from operators who have experienced these learning lessons first-hand.
The Right Tablet for the Job
Until recently, operators suffered from the misfit of consumer-based tablet technologies used in guest service applications. Although the slightly lower price points were alluring, IT departments were tearing their hair out when a model tested and rolled out had soon after been replaced, requiring re-testing. This resulted in support issues from the mashup of mixed models that were in use simultaneously. Make sure to select the right tablet for the job, that is, a certified POS tablet vs. an ordinary consumer tablet.
The infrastructure, Wi-Fi in particular, is sometimes a wildcard. What worked great when the wireless provider was onsite documenting heatmaps has hit-and-miss performance when the space fills up with lots of bodies, each consisting of 90% water, wireless’ greatest enemy. Complicating matters, those bodies each have their own wireless personal devices introducing cross-channel interference even when the POS is on its own private network. While many experience nearly flawless performance with POS mobility on their wireless networks, others struggle for the right combination and network configuration. Documented best practices are on the near horizon.
Service Staff Adoption
The more difficult challenge can be the actual users of the technology, not the technology itself. Server resistance to the adoption of mobile POS, if prevalent, can hinder the full potential if not managed well. Operators should identify a mobile POS champion, usually a lead server. This champion serves as an example, provides encouragement and sets the bar for others. Offering regular training, not just to new staff members, but ongoing to the group is equally important. With typical turnover rates being relatively high, a fully trained staff and robust training program can ensure a smooth transition to new technologies.
The most common service staff challenges, including observations about how operators are overcoming them:
- Conversational order taking – also called organic order-taking, requires a server to respond real-time while customers change their mind, amend and brainstorm their orders out loud all while navigating menus, items, choice groups, modifiers and special instructions. Those new to mobile POS should be trained and some amount of practice should be offered prior to engaging with customers.
- Perceived technology intrusion – Although sometimes referred to as the tablet getting between the server and guest, it is almost always an energetic problem, not a physical one. Learning how to present to guests instead of being preoccupied with the tablet while taking orders can prevent the perceived intrusion.
- Juggling – mobile POS requires hands. Small tablets usually require two hands – one to hold while the other taps. Some are trying to attach tablets to serving trays and others attaching handhelds to forearms, but some of these scenarios may offer problems of their own. These challenges are increased when servers need to juggle serving trays as well.
- Tip pooling – often the first issue identified, and may be a challenge even where POS mobility is not adopted. The full ‘guest-experience’ power of handheld tablets is realized when mobile devices and server-runner models are adopted together. Data is proving that higher revenue checks combined with higher tip percentages can result with such a model. This includes greater take-home of tips, and a stronger culture of success.
An expanding breadth of applications and integrations on a single tablet are enabling staff to address more guest needs. Most notable are the new technologies that arm front-line staff with the information necessary to take guest service to new levels. Couples celebrating anniversaries can be recognized upon arrival and throughout the dining or lodging experience, with details of their experience captured across a variety of touch points and shared throughout the enterprise.