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Point. Click. Enjoy. Simple electronic interactions are what today’s restaurant guests crave. They want to eat out the same way they bank, travel, and shop — with clicks, taps, and swipes. Apps for making reservations and placing to-go orders are no-brainers if you want to compete in this emerging arena of the restaurant business, and tablets at every table aren’t far behind. Will all this technology in restaurants lead to the end of personalized service? No, and here’s why: Service will always be the most important thing you sell.

While it’s true that technology is changing guest’s expectations for how they eat out, it can never change their end-game. Guests still want they’ve always wanted: great food and great service. It takes people to make that happen — your people.

Service is a thing more often felt than seen. It’s a magic act, an illusion, a perceived value that accompanies an exchange of goods for money. As you’re embracing technology tools in your restaurant, think of them not as replacements for service-related tasks, but enhancements that will help your staff do even more. Here are some examples of how to make technology in restaurants work for you:

Online reservations streamline the guest experience while offering unique opportunities for your staff. Use your online system to promote specials and ask if guests are celebrating a special occasion. Greeters should welcome guests who have made reservations online with personalized service that uses the information gleaned from the reservation. Restaurants that have easy-to-use apps for online to-go orders have seen a spike in takeout service. People ordering takeout expect efficiency, so don’t let them down. Service is just as important at your takeout counter as it is at the table. Increase sales by having some desserts and appetizers available for grab-and-go impulse purchases. Table-side tablets for ordering are best used for drinks, appetizers, and desserts. Guests can be served quickly, giving servers more time to wow guests with expert meal suggestions that complement the choices they’ve already made. When it comes time for the guest to pay the check, technology is your friend. If a guest has had an amazing experience all evening, then has to wait too long to get the check or reconcile the tab, it can ruin the night (and the server’s tip). When you give them the tools to pay the bill at their own pace, everyone wins. Need ideas to help your staff adapt to technology in your restaurant? Our “52 Ways” series of books has ideas for every week in the year. Check them out!

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