Global Worker Shortage: Are Robot Baristas the Solution?

February 26, 2024

Hold on to your aprons, because the hospitality industry is facing a problem that would make even Gordon Ramsay yell "bloody hell!" We're talking record-high job openings but a problematic shortage of workers. Throw in inflation and an upcoming recession, and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster.

But don't panic just yet, because technology could be the secret ingredient for cost-effective wins in spite of these post-COVID trends. So before you go calling in the robot baristas, let's look at some automation tweaks that'll make your customers feel like they're being served by a team of superheroes, even if you're understaffed.

 

1. Implement Mobile Ordering & Kiosks

Let's face it, today's customers are busy and easily distracted. It’s more important than ever to provide speedy and efficient services that meet their needs. Enabling self-serve options through mobile ordering and kiosks can reduce waiting times and improve the overall customer experience. According to Vita Mojo research, 83% of interviewees believe using a self-serve kiosk is faster than ordering in line. That means you'll attract more customers, and they'll leave you more five star Google reviews.

Person ordering a coffee through a self-serve kiosk.

 

2. Invest in Batch Brewing Methods

A pour-over coffee that takes 7-10 minutes is too long for busy customers. Plus, prioritizing manual repetitive work during crazy rushes is inefficient for your employees. Investing in batch brewing methods like pour-over brewers can solve this problem and save everyone's sanity. Brew Haha, for example, uses coffee concentrate for their iced lattes instead of pulling individual espresso shots per customer. A service adaptation like this decreases waiting times and the number of staff required on shift. It gives you one more minute to create meaningful connections and community with your customers instead.

 

3. Engage & Retain Customers with a Loyalty Program

Now, who doesn't love being rewarded for their loyalty? With fewer staff on hand, it can be difficult to provide a personalized experience for every customer. But fear not, because a well-designed loyalty program can keep your customers happy and coming back for more. Think of it as a 24/7 Brand Manager, offering reward tiers, bonus points, and discounts. Just take a look at Starbucks, which credits a whopping 40% of its total sales to its rewards program. That's less labor and more sales. The power of free stuff is real.

Person leaving a 5-star review on a mobile phone.

So, there you have it. Automation is king, and you don't need robots—yet.

 

Dig Deeper: Find out more on how to tackle the current worker shortage here.