Covid-19: A Restaurant Success Story
Call Queues Help Drive Business
While countless restaurants are struggling through the stay-at-home orders in place across the country, some have found a way thrive. They have transformed their businesses to carry-out service and, the ones that run a smooth curbside pickup operation, are seeing a growth in their sales as compared to last year.
There is one hitch though; they need to have a phone system that can handle much higher call volumes than they normally experience. Usually this would require buying additional equipment, adding phone lines and staffing appropriately. Gabbit’s customers are taking a slightly different approach and it is working without incurring new costs. They have started to use our call queue feature.
Most people have called into a call queue at some point in their lives. Common examples include airlines and credit card companies. Their call center phone system answers the call, tells the customer their place in line and then promotes a product while the caller waits for a customer service representative. Call queues are not limited to enterprise scale businesses though. We include this feature for every customer no matter their size. And, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of our restaurant and retail customers are recognizing its usefulness.
Instead of losing business to a busy signal when potential customers cannot get through, our restaurant customers (and some retailers) have increased their sales without having to buy additional equipment or staffing up to handle the extra call volume. In fact, these businesses are keeping their employees on their payrolls despite the economic downturn. By combining a call queue with our music-on-hold function, they’re also promoting carry-out bar service and other specials.
Call queues can be used to insure a higher level of customer service. With an option to automatically call the customer back when it is their turn in line, customers don’t have to wait on hold if they prefer otherwise. Announcements can be used to let customers know how long food prep is taking in real-time, promote specials or announce expanded hours. Managers can also spread the staff throughout the restaurant at each Point of Sale terminal to avoid bottlenecks and thus increase order volume.
Case Study: Rosalita’s Cantina – Des Peres, MO
Rosalita’s is a large and popular Mexican restaurant in suburban St. Louis. With a huge bar, outdoor seating area and plenty of room for large parties, it is full every night of the week (in normal times). When the stay-at-home order went into effect, Rosalita’s quickly transformed into a carry-out only establishment and altered their hours to daily service from 11AM – 9PM.
Under normal circumstances, the restaurant takes reservations for parties of six or more and carry-out business comprises approximately 10% of their total sales. Because of their reservation policy, much of the call volume prior to the Covid-19 pandemic was people inquiring about the wait times for seating and the need for phones was satisfied by three phone lines (call paths) and one telephone at the host station.
The St. Louis County stay-at-home order changed everything overnight and Rosalita’s management pivoted immediately. They began by reorganizing staff. Wait staff became telephone order takers / agents. They were assigned stations at each PoS (Point of Sales) terminal throughout the restaurant and each was issued a cordless phone. A Gabbit Customer Service Representative reprogrammed their cloud-based phone system so that all phone handsets would participate in a call queue with a round robin method of spreading the calls. The round robin option assigns each call to the phone agent who has been idle the longest to receive the next phone call, thus spreading the workload evenly and allowing orders to be efficiently placed into the PoS.
When a caller reaches the restaurant, a life-like automated voice answers the phone and informs the customer that they will be connected to a waitstaff member as soon as possible and then places the caller on hold with thematic music.
With seven order takers, average wait time on hold during peak hours is under 1 minute, the number of callers who hang up before being connected is less than 5% and restaurant sales have increased by more than 20%.
Call volume (minutes of active calls) has increased 218%
Peak active call rate has increased by a factor of 3
Average wait time per caller is 48 seconds
Total restaurant sales have increased by 22% as compared to April, 2019