What do restaurants really mean when they say they are using "contactless" methods?

What do restaurants really mean when they say they are using "contactless" methods?

Even at the best of times, succeeding in the restaurant business is extremely difficult. Now that we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, many eateries have been forced to close their doors. Meanwhile, those lucky enough to continue serving customers are using so-called “contactless” payment methods. Understanding exactly what this entails can help you to decide whether you can implement similar programs in your own eatery.

Contactless dining defined.

The coronavirus has changed the way that most of us choose to interact with the world. Since COVID-19 is highly infectious, restrictions have been put in place that require physical distancing between patrons, cleaning protocols for the disinfection of surfaces, and the wearing of face coverings. In order to adhere to these new rules, many establishments have made drastic changes in all aspects of their food delivery systems.

In order to minimize customer contact with the frequently touched elements in a restaurant, many have instituted the following contactless policies:

  • Reservations and pre-ordering of food to minimize queues in the restaurant lobby.
  • Instead of a paper or plastic list of available food offerings, customers can scan a QR code into their phone in order to read the menu.
  • Contactless ordering through the restaurant’s app.
  • Contactless payments (EMV and NFC) via the app.
  • Feedback about a customer’s experience can even be gathered safely via online systems.

All of these components combine to provide patrons with the safest and most stress-free pandemic dining experience possible.

The benefits of contactless dining.

Once a restaurant has instituted contactless solutions, the advantages quickly become apparent. They include the following:

  • Paperless menus and bill books are good for the environment and more hygienic.
  • Diners’ experiences are more seamless and hassle-free.
  • Patrons have more control over when they place their orders, and wait times are minimized.
  • Contactless payment processing for restaurants makes the billing and checkout experience easier for diners and staff.
  • Increased efficiency and faster table turns. 
  • Staff capabilities are optimized when servers do not need to focus on ordering and payments.
  • Servers can establish positive relationships with patrons since they have more time to answer questions and recommend food items.

Other contactless, COVID-related measures instituted in a restaurant can make your customers’ dining experiences even more memorable. These include instituting appropriate physical distancing, requiring the use of face coverings and shields in accordance with state and local laws, offering single-use utensils upon request, and regularly disinfecting frequently-traveled areas.

Contactless technologies available for your restaurant now.

The pandemic has vastly accelerated the adoption of electronic technology in numerous aspects of our everyday lives and restaurants are no exception. If you’re looking to bring contactless methodologies into your eatery, consider incorporating the following types of touchless systems:

  • Contactless payment equipment. Users simply set up a digital Google Pay or Apple Pay wallet in their smartphones that contains their secure credit card information. When the time comes to settle their bill, they need only place their wallet-equipped phone next to your near field communications (NFC) reader. Within seconds, the transaction is processed securely and safely, without any physical contact between consumer and merchant.
  • Quick response (QR) codes. These matrix barcodes are read by smartphones through their built-in cameras or by using third-party apps and can contain digital information such as menus. This eliminates the need for non-hygienic paper or plastic menus.
  • Curbside pickup. When your staff delivers a customer’s order directly to their car, there is no need for them to come close to other patrons by entering your eatery.
  • Meal kits. Because many of us are staying at home these days, there are generally more people around the dinner table. On the nights when no one wants to cook, someone can pick up a meal kit with all of the ingredients for a low-effort yet delicious dinner. This solution marries convenience with your restaurant brand, ensuring that you remain at the top of your best customers’ minds even during these difficult times.
  • Reservations. You might also consider asking guests to wait in their cars until they receive a text from you indicating that their table is ready.

As a restaurateur, you know that without happy customers who keep coming back and recommending your establishment to their social and work contacts, you will not survive in the industry’s cutthroat environment. These days, there are more factors than ever in running a successful restaurant. In addition to providing stellar delicious food and stellar customer service, you also need to demonstrate a strong commitment to the health and safety of your guests.

Incorporating stringent cleaning and social distancing protocols into your everyday operations is only the beginning when it comes to protecting your patrons and your profits. In addition, it makes a great deal of sense to institute systems that are as contactless as possible. This is what successful restaurants are talking about when they advertise themselves as adhering to contactless strictures. Now, it’s your eateries turn to join them.