The use of Information Technology (IT) and technology is inevitable for any business in this era. Especially so for the food industry. As consumers find it so much easier to get any information about just about anything and become more tech-savvy, they get more and more demanding. They expect the best, quickest service but also expect a superior quality at a decent and attractive price. Technology and IT is expected for better quality products and services.

Cashless payment solutions (here: RFID Wireless Payment system) such as counter devices, drive-thru window devices, and kiosks handles all types of payment media.

The use of these systems will make restaurant operations more efficient, appear to be high tech and can gain them a competitive advantage, and in the long-term will result in significant cost-savings. It makes the restaurant manager’s job more efficient and manageable systematically and securely.

In a way, the use of IT will greatly eliminate or reduce the need for human resources, especially in the use of self-ordering (touch screen systems, wireless and Bluetooth ordering). Will it make workers like waitstaff, waiters and cashiers go out of jobs? According to Self-service World magazine, it does not. Technology will replace jobs, but they are repetitive and machine-like in nature kind of tasks. If for example, checkout lines in a hypermarket are eliminated and being replaced with self-checkout, there might be disgruntled customers who still need assistance with things like handling big items, packing and so on. The truth is, employees displaced by self-service should be redeployed into customer service roles. In a retail store, for example, knowledgeable workers are still needed to ensure excellent customer service and support to customers.

Wireless Ordering System using PC tablets has allowed waitresses to stay on the floor and has almost eliminated any wrong orders being delivered to tables.

Another popular misconception is that older adults and those not born during the technology and information age might be technology resistant or even be technophobic (afraid of technology). The best example is my mother, she doesn’t even know how to use the internet or even bothers to do so, and prefers the traditional methods like writing on sheets of paper instead of using Microsoft Word, and going to the counter to order fast food instead of going through the drive-thru service. But, when approached the right way, this demographic provides some of the most loyal and repetitive users of self-service. In this business, age doesn’t necessarily define acceptance. Older people might not be risk takers to new systems, but they appreciate that kiosks usually provide a faster, easier transaction or service. An elderly woman left a self-ordering kiosk and commented: “I always know how long it’s going to take me”. She patted the kiosk and said, “Plus, this thing doesn’t have an attitude.”

Use of IT systems also do not guarantee success if you do not know how to use it well. In my opinion, IT in the food industry should be designed to satisfy customers better, in a way to make them loyal. For example, a self-order can remember the customer ordering details and preferences and customize and suggest an item for the subsequent orders. This is something a person cannot do. Also, integrating self-service into the business should be an extension of good customer service, not a replacement function. Is it really what a customer wants?

As a conclusion, business rules regarding human interaction are still the same, which is “The customer is always right”. Customer-service principles and how to make them happy must be in practice whether or not IT systems and technology are present. In the end, it is the human personalized touch that differentiates one company’s service from the other.