Behind-the-scenes technology enhance aftermarket service and the customer experience.
By Bryan Librandi
Technology in foodservice is nothing new. We have seen restaurants across the board incorporate different features including digital interfaces on the table, online ordering and wireless point-of-sale systems to put customers in the driver’s seat when it comes to determining how and when they will make and receive their food purchases. However, how does the technology impact the back of the house operations, and, in turn, positively affect the customer experience?
Equipment in the kitchen plays a vital part in delivering a superior product. Today’s kitchens are getting smaller. Technology and equipment are being asked to do more — from cooking speed to multi-purpose functionality. For example, a combi-oven brings convection, steam and the combination of the two, providing quick cooking solutions. Digital controls on equipment provide intuitive operation through pre-settings and informational feedback for kitchen employees. Ultimately, a computer motherboard and sensors in equipment helps us to better take care of the equipment and triage problems. Because equipment is being asked to do more and with reduced redundancy, the operator can lose a significant portion of the menu when it fails, making aftermarket parts and service an important component of the operation.
Maximizing equipment uptime is critical to running an efficient kitchen and creating overall customer satisfaction. If the equipment goes down, how quickly the repair can be made impacts the ability of the business to serve its customers. How quickly you can identify the problem and order the right part directly impacts the bottom line.
We can now improve fix rates by providing digital solutions that put critical information at the fingertips of the repair technician or service company. Through emerging foodservice technology, we can enable a positive service experience each time.
We see five distinct areas in the kitchen where technology is having a direct impact on the customer experience:
- The growing use of technology in the kitchen can determine both planned maintenance needs and repairs that arise in a much more efficient and effective manner than ever before. Equipment can be fitted with technology that allows service personnel to plug right into it to determine what problems might be occurring just by running diagnostics. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled technology allows remote access to performance and service data of equipment so it can be reviewed prior to service and the right parts are ordered. The ability to collect data is an important step for ensuring future engineering and maintenance of equipment continues to improve meeting foodservice needs.
- Mobile technology is becoming increasingly more powerful, providing connection to needed resources, access to information and ability to make on-the-spot purchase of needed parts. Mobile applications tap into the technology native to the device such as the camera. Taking a photo of the part, which needs to be replaced, can make communication faster and more accurate.
- Having access to online videos and tutorials at any time or place can offer service technicians needed information to complete a repair. Parts distributors also have manuals and resources online to help the technician research issues or determine next steps.
- Visualization tools help customers order the right parts with confidence. Image viewing features available on some e-commerce sites allow customers to view parts in high-definition and rotate 360 or 720 degrees, capturing all of the relevant information. Accurate parts identification is critical to successful service repairs and 3D online visualization tools eliminate the confusion often associated with online parts ordering by giving customers a dimensional, multi-angle, zoomable view of thousands of parts.
- Operational software such as inventory automation solutions track on-shelf or on-truck parts stock, taking the guesswork out of ordering parts needed for planned maintenance or repairs. When the inventory is automatically updated as parts are used, it helps prepare for the next job by restocking and providing ongoing parts usage reports.
Working directly with manufacturers, service providers and end-users, we will identify areas to streamline the repair process, provide access to detailed information and deliver solutions that more efficiently accommodate rising customer expectations. We are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience and provide the highest quality products and services for customers when they make a buying decision. The need to constantly improve will continue to bring forth advancement of innovative technology.
— Bryan LiBrandi is senior vice president, strategic marketing and e-commerce, for Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Heritage Foodservice, a leading provider of 100% genuine OEM replacement parts and authorized aftermarket service for commercial and institutional kitchen equipment. Email the author at Bryan.LiBrandi@heritagefoodservice.com.