Restaurants in many regions continue to be understaffed, and it’s an ongoing concern among restaurateurs. People who left the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic in large part haven’t returned, and turnover remains rampant.
Let’s start by looking at some very telling stats.
Looking back at last year’s National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Industry Report, more than two-thirds – 70 percent – of restaurants stated that they were lacking mission-critical staff.
MISSION CRITICAL STAFF SHORTAGES
Will mission-critical staff shortages or scheduling be a challenge in the coming year?
Lack Mission Critical Staff
Fast forward to this year, and the NRA shared in its 2023 State of the Industry Report that:
- 89% of respondents consider labor a significant issue
- 83% named recruiting and retention a significant ongoing concern
LABOR IS A SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE
Will labor shortages or scheduling be a challenge in the coming year?
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In the past 24 months, the restaurant industry added 2.8 million jobs, and the restaurant workforce will continue to grow. Despite the uptick in hospitality employment opportunities and a 2023 anticipated return to pre-pandemic restaurant employment levels, more than one-third of the NRA survey respondents say it will be harder to recruit and retain employees in 2023 than in 2022.
The Nation’s Restaurant News 2023 Restaurant Technology Outlook showed that:
- 22% of operators surveyed are looking to reduce labor costs
- 37% want to prioritize staff retention
Restaurants are turning to technology to address the labor shortage, but robotic fry cooks and servers won’t soon replace humans. Instead, restaurant managers want tech solutions that will boost employee retention. One way to do this is by improving morale and work conditions such as lowering staff stress levels.
Automation through voice technology can help.
A good experience isn’t just a nice-to-have ‘dessert’ in this convenience economy. It’s the main dish, as diners consistently express the desire for their experiences to be consistent and low-friction regardless of how they order and obtain their food.
Wise restaurateurs are taking note – and acting. Operators surveyed by Nation’s Restaurant News ranked customer experience as the number one priority in terms of technology investment, followed by performance and productivity, employee experience, and business support (2023 Restaurant Technology Outlook, Nation’s Restaurant News Intelligence).
Increasingly, convenience is the great differentiator when everything else is equal – food type, quality, and price. Convenience wins in the minds and hearts of guests, again and again.
When it comes to restaurant guests and their growing demand for convenience, it’s safe to say that nothing is more convenient than conversation. After all, hospitality is a people business, and conversations are at the center of our human interactions. Conversations organize and communicate our thoughts to others. They are a direct connection to how we think and feel. They reflect our intent. Every person who has the capability uses conversation to interact with others. There is nothing more natural, fast, easy, or intuitive.
Ways that Voice Technology can Help Solve Labor Challenges
The likeliest application of automation is in the service touchpoints that already are fully digital or depend on software such as order taking, reservations, and guest support. A voice technology can handle customer interactions, serving guests, empowering managers and operators to upskill staff members to more relevant, valuable, and high-customer-touch tasks. When a voice technology accepts phone-in or drive-thru orders, for example, employees can focus on critical roles and points of guest service such as getting orders out, without bouncing from one service gap to another. They feel less stressed and more fulfilled and appreciated. It also avoids the ongoing uptick in labor costs.
Voice technologies can deliver exceptional interactions for a fraction of the cost of live, human interaction. It won’t call in sick, overlook an upsell opportunity, or get accused of having an attitude when crunch time hits.
Voice streamlines the tech stack by integrating with more than one service channel. And it scales infinitely, on demand. Voicify’s voice artificial intelligence, for example, works across telephony, drive-thru, online/in-app, and on kiosks. The fewer technology ‘moving parts’ you have, the fewer hours your IT and operations people need to manage vendors and troubleshoot issues. It creates a unified experience with centralized data provided on a full software-as-a-service model.
Voicify helps restaurants deliver superior dining experiences by increasing the accuracy, predictability, and effectiveness of the ordering experience, while upskilling workers and saving on labor costs. Contact us to discuss the challenges you’re trying to solve.
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