By Bill Draper

UX (user experience) design hasn’t been taken seriously by developers of business software. We’re all accustomed to great user experience brought to us by consumer software and hardware companies. Then, we come to work and get 1990’s technology. Aside from the fact that it’s not a pleasurable user experience, why does this matter?

Many roles in hospitality use parts of the POS, or restaurant management system. The executive staff is interested in data. Chains are interested in data across the enterprise. Store and regional managers are also interested in data but often on a more local and granular level. Kitchen staff, operations, marketing and cashiers are all users of parts of the POS. UX design focuses on making products easier and faster to learn and to use.

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s talk about Conversational Ordering. As a restaurateur, one thing you need is fast service. Whether it’s keeping the line moving in a counter service operation or being attentive to customers in a table service environment, customer perception is formed in large part by speed of service.

Conversational Ordering is the concept of making the POS ordering interface match how people actually order items.

Let’s use an example:

A family of 4 comes in to your restaurant and orders at the counter.

They have already been looking at the menu, deciding what they want before approaching the cashier and each one begins to rattle off what they want, describing modifiers as they come to their mind and probably not in the same order that the POS system prompts for modifiers.

The cashier, trying to keep up, often asks the customer to clarify certain modifiers because they are busy focusing on what the POS software is asking rather than what their customer is saying.

It gets worse. Someone else orders a “special sauce” on the side and someone who has already ordered things that sound great too and asks if they can have their item modified to include that “special sauce” on the side.

There are two conversations going on: one between the customer and the cashier; the other between the cashier and the POS, and they’re different conversations! This slows the line, often forces the cashier to ask for information they have already been given; and too often results in ordering mistakes that can result in returned (i.e. wasted) food and unhappy customers.

There is a better way and it’s called Conversational Ordering. The concept is quite simple – better match the POS user interface to the conversation taking place between the customer and the cashier. No POS does this well today, at least not until GUSTO.

By totally rethinking the user interface, we have developed a Conversational Ordering solution that works. When a menu item is selected that has modifiers, a modifier panel is displayed, offering all modifiers on a single presentation.

Ingredients and modifiers that come by default are already selected and can be excluded by simply toggling them off. Ingredient modifiers such as “extra”, “on the side”, or others can also be quickly selected without leaving the page.

When someone in the group asks to change an item already ordered, simply re-select that item on the “living” check and the modifier panel is re-displayed, making it easy and fast for the cashier to keep up as orders and changes are being thrown at them in real time.

Conversational Ordering from GUSTO makes orders faster, more accurate, and keeps customers and cashiers happier. Who knew POS software could be pleasurable to use?

So that’s Conversational Ordering in a nutshell. If you wish to discuss further write to me: bill@gustofb.com

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