POS Technology: Embrace Innovation, Prioritize Customer Experience

By: Michelle MacKeith, Director of Commercial Operations at Shift4 

The more things change, the more they remain the same. As I reflect on my career in point-of-sale technology for the hospitality world, I realize a lot has changed. Still, the part that remains the same is the love for what I do and the importance of a happy, loyal customer.

I started in the point-of-sale business in 1990. I graduated from Penn State with lots of restaurant work experience, including waiting tables and managing to help pay my way. Little did I know that this combination would help launch my lifelong career in POS.

On my first day on the job, my manager and I headed to Clyde’s Restaurant Group corporate training office in Washington, D.C., and began training the servers on POSitouch. My manager trained the first two classes, and then for class #3, it was up to me.  It was fun–scary, but fun! We went on to train and implement POSitouch in all of the Clyde’s locations, and they still use POSitouch today. 

I loved my new job, helping to solve challenges and helping them find ways to do their jobs better. I also loved meeting new people, and I connected easily with them because I had walked in their shoes. I also taught everyone in the restaurant how to use their new touchscreen systems. Then, it was something new and different, unlike today, where everything is touchscreen! 

We transitioned many restaurants from paper tickets, cash registers, and keyboard-based entry systems to more technology-driven infrastructure. When it worked, we were heroes. But when it didn’t, there was a lot of frustration from the restaurant team. A malfunctioning system affected their pay! And sometimes they simply didn’t like the change. I had managers walk out, servers cry, and bartenders cuss me out. I did what I could to help —I bussed tables, ran food from the kitchen, and often stayed with the manager to help them close after a long day with a new system. I learned — work through the “weeds” and never let them see you sweat. And most of the time, I did pretty well with that. 

Over the years, technology and software capabilities continued to evolve. Handheld devices, cloud-based reporting, and much more. I went on to work with major accounts, stadiums, and arenas. 

One great memory from working with stadiums was when we partnered with Aramark and got to be at Opening Day at Camden Yards, the new home of the Baltimore Orioles. We installed a perfect way for in-seat service for the club-level fans with Seiko handhelds. It was cutting-edge and cool. However, there was just one small problem—all the orders were going to the wrong kitchen, and it took fans forever to get their food. It was very chaotic! And while all this was going on, my co-worker was down on the field taking pictures of the first pitch by Bill Clinton! But we stuck it out and went on to roll out many more Aramark sites. 

As time went on, I took on teaching new resellers, training new team members, and eventually managing the whole thing. I began to realize the importance of the solutions we were providing. They’re the backbone of restaurant operations, protecting their profits and providing the best customer experiences. I embraced helping customers run their operations to keep their customers happy! I truly felt like I was making a difference for each of our customers.   

Today, we offer amazing software and technology choices—ordering at the table, ordering from your phone, apps for everything, QR Codes, sleek and sexy hardware, and little upfront costs with a monthly subscription. Credit card processing companies have acquired many of the solutions and some of the resellers in our community, too. I work for one of them now. I did not see that coming. It’s been the most challenging part of my career, and I’m so glad I am a part of this next change in our industry.  

We’ve come a long way with POS technology solutions by listening to the customer’s needs and racing to be the first to offer it to win the business. Change has been positive, meeting customers’ demands and helping them stay afloat in a competitive industry.  

The more things change, the more they remain the same: loving what we do, making an impact with our solutions, and wowing customers so they tell everyone they know.