So many dining establishments use an online restaurant reservation system. But are they doing it right? If you’re looking for ways to upgrade the efficiency of your restaurant, consider investing in a new tool set that doesn’t include an independent reservation system. The steps below will help you review what you have, assess your needs, and pick the right vendors so you don’t have to manage dozens of applications.
1. Take inventory – consider all the software you might need
Writing two simple lists will help you figure out where your software needs are lacking:
- A list of all tasks that could be completed with software and automation
- A list of your current software systems and what they can accomplish
By comparing these two lists, you might see two things. First, some gaps where your current software doesn’t live up to – like an integrated reservation system. Keep these gaps in mind when you’re researching new software and look for systems that will fill in any existing voids.
Second, there most likely will be more applications than you’d like to manage. When consolidating and shopping for new software, ensure you’re able to get max benefit from each tool in your technology stack. For example, even top-rated reservation systems don’t include features like:
- Loyalty programs
- CRM integration
- Personalized communications and reminders
- Omnichannel communications
- Automated surveys and feedback analysis
- Phone answering with natural language processing (NLP)
With a programmable communications tool, you can utilize all these features and more to help reduce the number of applications you use.
2. Research and consolidate your systems and software
After analyzing current software and the available tools on the market, you’ll know what to look for. It’s time to make a shortlist of software options. When doing so, ensure that applications will be able to integrate with each other and handle all your needs – both immediate and those anticipated in the future. Be sure to consolidate as many tasks into one tool as possible.
A software platform that allows you to automate your communications can consolidate many contact channels, such as voice, social media, and customer service tools into one. It can automate reminders and loyalty programs, too. This frees up front-of-house staff to concentrate on providing exceptional experiences that keep customers coming back.
Even FAQ calls can be handled without taking up an employee’s time. NLP and bots can answer questions like, “Do you have gluten free vegan dishes?” over the phone, on social media, or via text. Today’s communication automation tools are even smart enough to get a staff member involved if questions require a more human response. Plus, automated follow-ups can help boost your restaurant’s ratings and reviews by either guiding a customer to post positive feedback to online review sites or informing you of a negative experience for human intervention.
The best part is that, with some vendors, you often don’t need a developer to set up numerous communication workflows. Drag-and-drop apps are clear, save time, and can be changed or updated in minutes. And if you do want to have an advanced or customized app, the best vendors will help set them up, tailored to your company’s needs.
3. Choose the right vendors with great customer support
Through your research, there might not be a perfect tech stack for all your needs, but you’ve likely found a solution for most. And by consolidating vendors as much as possible, you’re down to a short list of the most effective tools to help your restaurant run as efficiently as possible.
When making your final decision, consider:
- How and if services need to integrate with each other
- Quality and speed of customer service
- Software rating and reviews
Casual dining and high-end dining rooms need more than just an online restaurant reservation system. You probably need a communication platform as an efficient customer service tool that easily integrates applications. A comprehensive system can save time and money, plus free up staff to focus on customers. Compare different solutions for the one that meets your needs and choose from a consolidated list of vendors that are fast and flexible for you.