[NRN Feature] Restaurant Operators Take Facial-Recognition at Face Value
An excerpt from "Restaurant operators take facial-recognition at face value"
By Ron Ruggless
December 13 2017, Nation's Restaurant News
Since the November release of the iPhone X, which unlocks by scanning the owner’s mug, facial recognition has started to rear its head at fast-casual restaurants.
“Every generation is having fun with it,” said Jon Alexis, partner in the fast-casual Malibu Poke in Dallas, which opened Nov. 28 with three kiosks that allow guests to save their order history and access them again through facial recognition. “It has exceeded my expectations.”
[...] “We’ve shaved 30 seconds off the experience already, and we’re also getting other data that we can use,” he said. “It’s everything. It is my entire front of house staff. It’s my steps of service. It is my training documents.”
[...] Alexis chose the Malibu Poke kiosks from Troy, Mich.-based NEXTEP SYSTEMS, the foodservice technology company that took the facial-recognition software live in January 2017.
“It personalizes the guest experience,” said Liah Luther, NEXTEP SYSTEMS marketing manager, in answer to emailed questions. “Who doesn’t love the convenience of walking into their favorite restaurant, where they’re recognized immediately and asked if they want the usual?”
Luther said facial recognition gives the guest that experience after just one visit. Alexis noted that most customers decide to use it on the second visit, after they have become more familiar with the menu.
“Use the kiosk once, opt into facial recognition and the next time you visit you can reorder and pay for your favorite dish in less than 10 seconds,” Luther said. “This level of personalization gives guests two gifts: control and time.”
Luther said speed of service remains one of the biggest benefits of facial recognition.
“We’ve seen that fast-casual restaurants have benefited from facial recognition the most because they tend to have so many build-your-own options,” she said. “A few decades ago, the assembly line was the best and only way to handle these complex orders quickly.
“Customers love customizing their food, but don’t love the pressure of walking down the line, making choices while people wait for them,” she continued. “Now, self-order technology has eclipsed the assembly line. Guests order easily and — with facial recognition — incredibly fast.”
Alexis added that the face recognition helps differentiate the new Malibu Poke brand. “Our motto is customization, and we want to put out fine-dining food in a fast-casual setting,” he said. “The facial recognition helps guests remember what they’ve ordered and, with one click, reorder their entire bowl.”