What’s changed in restaurant management software?
What’s changed in restaurant management software? Well quite a lot, as it happens. Our team at favouritetable recently found itself having an interesting water-cooler moment and concluded that, actually, change is constant and is what excites us most.
There were just too many anecdotes and views discussed to list in this short blog, but we did manage to agree three main points to share.
What do you think? We’d love to know.
The rise of the multi-nationals
There was a time in the software world when products were built in a shed and the vendor would drive around the local area in his or her Ford Escort, armed with a bulky laptop for the purpose of door-knocking demos. Well, the shed bit might not be true but in some cases things weren’t far off that.
Fast-forward to today, and we see a plethora of fast-moving, highly visible restaurant management and reservation systems popping up in our online feeds and inboxes. You know the brands we’re talking about – they’re the ones with funky names, a huge presence thanks to massive marketing budgets and international investment, coupled with a vibrancy which is has really refreshed the world of restaurant tech.
These companies have done a great job in shaking up the sector and, in part, been responsible for establishing web-based restaurant operations as here to stay. The speed at which restaurants have been able to get online and attract new customers has been incredibly fast, as their owners sought ways to modernise – particularly during the pandemic. Big brand restaurant software companies, we salute you.
But are there any downsides to restaurants hooking up with the big boys of software? Inevitably, yes.
Here at favouritetable HQ we speak every day with subscribers to these systems who are frustrated by products which, they tell us, are lacking in functionality and expensive. Having entered the online fray with these systems and cut their technology teeth on them, many subscribers are now looking to swap them out for benefit-driven solutions which deliver better value.
Often, it isn’t that easy because some multi-nationals tie customers down with rather punitive contracts which are difficult to exit. And when customers try to negotiate, they’re faced with well-meaning but indifferent support agents who couldn’t care less. That leaves customers feeling at best marginalised, and at worst angry, as they ruminate over why they are being treated this way after all the commission they have paid.
Sadly, as the market consolidates and multi-nationals merge, the focus on delivering innovative functionality and great customer service will be further diluted and we think that’s a shame. The multi-national brands do a great job of acquiring new customers and providing good but basic functionality, yet their “take it or leave it” approach will, surely, come back to bite them in the future. Restaurateurs tend to have very long memories.
Please forgive us for taking a diversion down a rather nostalgic memory lane here, but we can all recall how technology used to be across all works of life. This particular favouritetable author can well remember brick-like cell phones, TVs with cathode ray tubes, home computers with the power of an elastic band and predictions in books for the rise of domestic robots which would - with vacuum cleaner pipes for arms – do the ironing or wash the car. The amazing thing is, we were absolutely stunned by these new technologies of the time.
Fast-forward to today and we can reflect on how far the world of technology has come, in its ever-advancing quest for innovation and the search to make our lives easier. Many of the innovations of the past are now firmly embedded in our everyday lives and frequently commoditised.
When it comes to the restaurant technology sector, things are no different. The advancement of technology is driven in equal measure by the innovators and the consumers, creating a glorious virtuous circle where one pushes the other along.
Today, technology producers have given us some amazing products, which have been enthusiastically taken up by hungry consumers. The current era in which we live is defined by technology mobility: that is, consumers transact with their favourite brands online as a matter of course. It is the defacto method among not just the often quoted millennials, generations Zs and generation Ys for living their lives and they expect mobile interactions with everyone, including restaurants.
The net effect is that consumers, in a wide sense, now lead the push for greater technology comforts and that’s great for restaurant software producers like favouritetable because they help keep us at the top of our game.
Part of that virtuous circle sees consumers taking the push to restaurant owners and challenging them to provide the technology-driven platforms expected. In turn, restaurant owners are increasingly embracing a technology-driven operating environment and themselves pushing the software producers even harder to deliver.
What is certainly evident to us is the intolerance among both consumers and restaurant owners of software which is lacking. In the past, when restaurant software was a novelty and still in its infancy, quirks, foibles and annoyances would be tolerated in deference to the overall wow factor of something new, but that is not the case now.
Restaurant management and reservation software has to be at the top of its game, period.
The User Experience
“Why has it done that?”
“Where’s that gone?”
“Damn thing’s crashed again”
These are some of the cries of frustration emitted by many a restaurateur using poor software. Quite simply, it is no longer acceptable for software vendors to soldier-on selling clunky systems and hoping nobody will notice. Users want a particular type of experience: fast, seamless, always-on, logical and intuitive.
One of the biggest complaints we hear from ex-users of our competitors’ products is about the usability of systems. That is, the way they flow. Customers want beautifully crafted workflows which make sense, not buttons and links which look like they were designed by mathematical formulae: the on-screen layout of software, and the workflow which underpins it, should mirror the user behaviour of the restaurateur (it isn’t for software designers to break the way restaurateurs like to do things and insist they do them to suit a programming language or algorithm).
Modern systems are a dream to use, require minimal learning, and use graphics, colours, areas and designs which make sense. Further, they quickly get the user to the end result with the minimum amount of clicks and crucially are frustration-free be that in terms of up-time, consistency and speed.
The irony here is that, ultimately, a fantastic user experience will be unnoticeable whereas a bad one will get noticed every time.
What was once novel technology ultimately becomes a commodity cemented into the day to day lives of consumers and businesses alike. Customers of the restaurant software companies (and their customers) expect their technology to simply be there, like an ultra-reliable partner. It has to work, perfectly, first time and every time.
That’s not to say that innovation is dead – nothing could be further from the truth. Users’ insatiable appetite for a brilliant experience is driving software companies to continually react and re-imagine their restaurant booking and reservation systems.
Those software companies which take their eye off the ball, both in technological and customer care terms, will experience – and are already experiencing – an exodus of customers seeking better functionality, at a better price and delivered locally with a smile.
For a demonstration, call us today on 033 0124 4785 or email us at email@example.com and see why favouritetable is the best value full-feature restaurant management system on the market.