Self-Ordering Kiosks: Signaling a Quality Restaurant to Customers

The kiosk is a multifaceted technology that offers a variety of inarguable benefits to a restaurant’s bottom line. Between increasing efficiency, optimizing upselling and improving customer satisfaction, the self-ordering kiosk can convince customers to come back for more. But what about getting customers in the door, in the first place? Kiosks might be able to help with that, too.  

Asymmetric Information and Signaling Mechanisms 

First, we need to take a quick dip into the basics of economics and explore the meaning behind “asymmetric information.” In economics, asymmetric information is one of the restrictions to a perfectly competitive (and perfectly hypothetical) market. It occurs whenever the buyers and sellers of a product do not have the same information. A common example is the used car market – buyers do not have as much information on the car as sellers and therefore cannot tell whether they are paying too much for the car’s true value. 

Even if a business is not trying to hide information, buyers and sellers will inherently have different information. To remedy this, some businesses use “signaling mechanisms” to demonstrate unobservable quality with some observable signal. At retailers, a store might promise “money-back guaranteed” to signal their confidence in a product; in the job market, candidates might include certificates or degrees to signal their level of competency and drive. So how can restaurants signal the quality of their overall business?  

Transparentize Your Restaurant 

The self-ordering kiosk acts as a signaling mechanism for your restaurant. Although the restaurant industry has become more transparent with review platforms such as Yelp or Trip Advisor, there are still a variety of unknown factors that reviews might not address, such as a restaurant’s accessibility or how often its surfaces are sanitized. A restaurant with self-ordering kiosks can indirectly signal to customers that it cares about and has taken steps to address such factors.  

When a customer walks by or sees an image of a restaurant with self-ordering kiosks, they immediately associate the restaurant with speed and efficiency. For customers concerned about accessibility, self-ordering kiosks signal increased accessibility with technology that is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Diners who are concerned about their health and safety – particularly during post-COVID dining – will gravitate toward self-ordering kiosks, since they can visually observe a restaurant wipe down its ordering surfaces and, furthermore, limit person-to-person contact if desired.  

Building Brand Credibility 

In addition to signaling specific advantages, self-ordering kiosks can also signal an overall quality business. Self-ordering kiosks demonstrate a certain level of capital wealth and therefore financial success. By installing automation technology, a restaurant can signal to customers that it is an established business that has enough money to invest in advanced technologies.  

Self-ordering kiosks can also communicate an established and credible brand. A restaurant that invests in self-ordering kiosks and other automations will send a two-fold message to customers: It has served people long enough to recognize the value of automation in improving the customer experience, and it is confident enough to invest in automation that will usher its business into the future.  

Signaling is an important mechanism for any business that wants to attract new customers and build trust. Self-ordering kiosks can successfully communicate that your brand puts customer satisfaction above all else, therefore improving your restaurant’s bottom line.  

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