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With new technology, restaurants can improve the guest experience by offering diverse payment options on mobile and tabletop devices.

How Payment Technologies Ease the Pain of Restaurant Bills

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New options make paying bills simpler for customers and restaurants.
By Peter Forbes May 2017 Expert Insights

Whether it’s at brunch on Sunday or happy hour on Thursday after work, diners aren’t just looking for great food anymore. Instead, they are seeking a great social experience. But that all comes to a screeching halt when the waiter presents the bill, leaving customers to figure out who ate and drank what, how much each item costs, and how to divvy up the tip. Splitting the bill can be the most frustrating part of going out with a group, but payments technologies are working to alleviate this pain point.

Branded Restaurant Payment Apps

Recently, The Cheesecake Factory released the payment app, CakePay to speed up the payment process for guests. Customers download the app, check into their specific dining location, and share their code with the server. From there, customers can view the menu and order summary, as well as pay whenever they are ready via Cakepay. And if they are dining with a large group, the app enables them to conveniently split the bill and add a tip.

The benefits of a customized app don’t end there. Not only do these apps allow restaurants to incorporate their own branding, but they also add a personal touch to the digital dining experience. Consistent branding is an important part of maintaining customer loyalty because customers trust brands they recognize. It benefits the company most when launching new programs attached to the restaurant.

General Payment Apps

For restaurants that opt out of a branded app, there are other options to integrate payment technology into the dining experience. For example, apps like Split feature access to a variety of restaurants that have integrated mobile payment capabilities, offering customers fast and convenient service. Split allows customers to get rid of the pen and calculator by enabling customers to select a restaurant, open a tab, review the check, and split the bill right from their smartphone.

General payment apps, like Split, are convenient for both customers and restaurant owners. Customers love these apps because they aren’t hassled with the need to download a new app for every restaurant they frequent. General payment apps appeal to a younger demographic resulting in an increase in foot traffic and revenue as well as an increase in service effectiveness. Integrated seamlessly with the restaurant's POS system, the apps also serve as a great marketing tool. It allows restaurants to gain exposure to a larger demographic effortlessly.

Tabletop Options

Access to a customized or general payments mobile app is convenient for the customer, especially when splitting the bill. However, some restaurants have decided to integrate technology through a different avenue. Popular chain restaurants like Chili’s and Applebee’s feature tabletop ordering, which allows diners to view the menu, order, and split and pay the bill via tablet. Wyman Roberts, president of Chili’s, told USA Today that he’s seen an increase in customer satisfaction since adding tabletop ordering. These new tablets bring a fresh dynamic to the dining experience and remove the awkwardness that receiving the bill poses to a great social experience. They are modern, tech savvy, and convenient—all characteristics customers are looking for in a dining experience to align with their digitized and fast-paced lifestyles.

Further enhancing the dining experience by working to eliminate lines and reducing time spent in the restaurant, contactless and card-not-present payments are also gaining popularity in the restaurant industry, especially in quick-service restaurants. Contactless payments allow customers to simply tap their phones, key fobs, or wristbands to complete transactions, and card-not-present technology enables them to order and pay ahead of time via smartphone or computer.

According to the National Restaurant Association's most recent study, 35 percent of restaurants have adopted mobile payments. In addition, the study states that on average, restaurants that integrate payments technologies see a 20 percent increase in sales.

As the world continues to advance digitally, customers, especially millennials, are looking for restaurants and bars to become digital as well. Integrating payments technology eliminates wait times for receiving and paying for the bill resulting in increased customer satisfaction and increased service efficiency. By getting rid of the splitting headache, these solutions have the potential to positively change the way both customers and employees view group dining. 

Peter Forbes is president of corporate business at Worldpay US, a global payments provider for all channels: in-store, online, and via mobile.