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Will Tablets Replace Restaurant Servers?

[ 0 ] Jan. 24, 2014 | SBO Editor

Tablets versus restaurant servers

Restaurants across the country have been rolling out tabletop tablets recently. In doing so, these businesses have been improving the overall casual dining experience for everyone involved – guests, servers, and operators alike – resulting in increased guest satisfaction, efficient staff and growing revenues.

Ziosk put together the following info on tabletop tablets vs. servers.

While the initial thought may be that these tablets will replace servers, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When looking closely at the entire dining experience, there are several points that prove the contrary.

There is an expectation of the guest to be greeted and served throughout the meal and this will continue to be true, even with a tablet on the table. The point of a tablet is to make things faster and easier for the guest – sometimes, this means that a guest should utilize the tablet, like when diners are trying to quickly paying their bill at the so they can get back to the office. In other instances, it will be faster and easier for the guest to speak directly with the server.  For example, with one tablet per table, its not convenient or expedient to have a table of 4 or 6 all place their order individually. Also, certain orders need additional attention or have modifications, things that are much easier translated by a server than a tablet.

Another example for the need of a server is the order of an initial alcoholic drink. While tablets are great when it comes to reordering drinks, the order of the first alcoholic beverage demands age verification and it must be done by a server to make sure the recipients of these beverages are indeed of legal drinking age. Once age has been identified, diners can use the tablets to reorder additional drinks. One of the most difficult tasks as a server at a casual-dining establishment is knowing the precise moment to ask a guest if they’d like another drink. Everyone drinks at their own pace and the server can’t be standing there every second waiting for each person to finish. Tablets are the perfect complement.

Another hugely convenient feature and guest benefit of the self-service tablet is enhanced security. One of the most common spots for identity thieves to steal credit card numbers is at restaurants. The tabletop tablet solves this problem by offering guests the ability to pay on demand on the table. This not only improves security by ensuring that the credit card never leaves the diner’s hand, but it also means that diners are less likely to accidentally leave their card behind or forget to take it out of the check presenter before leaving. Paying this way is not requirement for guests.  Some patrons may still want to pay the “old fashioned” way and to accommodate those guests, they will need a server to complete the checking out process.

With tablets popping up everywhere, a question remains on what the benefits are to servers. A great benefit of these restaurant-ready tablets is that they help servers do a better job SERVING their customers. Tablets do not replace the need for servers, in fact, it is quite the opposite – they help ensure that a waiter or waitress can spend more quality time with their tables, providing guests a higher level of attention and service. When tasks like running back and forth to the POS to print the check, swipe the credit card, reconcile the tip are removed, servers have the time to refill those water glasses and replace the fork that was dropped on the floor.

Tablets have also been impressively effective at improving the wait staff’s take-home pay, an increase of around fifteen percent at restaurants utilizing the tablets, a big benefit for servers. Patrons who get what they want when they want it leave happy; happy patrons order more food and leave better tips. The tablets also have an automated tip calculator built right into them.  The calculator defaults to a suggested percentage of 20% and that calculation is made on the total before any deals or discounts, encouraging guests to not forget to tip on the regular price of their order, a feature servers love.

Tablets are changing the face of casual dining, and it seems certain that they are affecting a trend that is here to stay – to the delight of both the restaurant industry and their patrons. But its important to note that the restaurant server, a time honored part of the dining experience is here to stay as well; now, they just have a tool to help them do their job even better.

About Ziosk: Based in Dallas, TX, Ziosk® is the first entertainment, ordering and pay-at-the-table tablet for the casual dining restaurant market. The technology, featuring a 7-inch tablet and encrypted credit card reader, resides on each table and gives guests control over their dining experience. Visit www.ziosk.com for more info.


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Category: Features