Splitting the bill needn’t be a headache for restaurants

Data Insights, Small Business Advice 15 January 2020
Group of Friends Dining Out

“So, shall we just divide it evenly?”… “But Reece is doing dry January.” … “And Jenny only had two starters!” … “Though she did share a dessert with Leo” … “And he also ordered an extra whisky!”…

The delicate issue of splitting a restaurant bill is something we’ve all experienced. But the awkwardness isn’t just about money. There’s more to it than that. After all, there’s something very un-British about discussing anything finance-related. And while most of the time we can keep our financial (and food) foibles private, this is one instance where it’s all laid bare.

When payments get too personal

By making everyone at the table come clean about what they’ve consumed (and worse, what it costs) individual traits and quirks inevitably emerge. And not everyone will like what comes up. 

There’s the drinker (who snuck in a sly single malt), the dieter (who’s gluten-free this month) and, most annoying of all, the cheeky devil who ordered more than anyone else but is pushing for an even split. It’s all there in black and white.

In addition, when it comes to settling a bill, people have diverse approaches. There are the generous tippers versus the begrudgers. The ‘meticulous maths nerds’ versus the ‘rounder uppers.’ The individual item checkers versus the happy-tappy PIN punchers.

And, as it all unravels like a one-act theatre drama with everyone loudly proposing their own version of a ‘fair division,’ a fun evening can drift towards a sour conclusion.

How restaurants can remedy the situation

Restaurants need to take action if they’re to avoid being tainted by association with these petty spats. Unfair as it sounds, they could even lose future custom. 

Retrieving the situation will require skill and tact from the waiting staff. It will also require a payment process that is swift and smooth enough to bring the night to a satisfactory conclusion with calm and goodwill restored. 

According to Restaurant Insights 2020, a new report by Paymentsense, 59% of restaurant-goers split the bill around half the time that they eat out – and a further 4% say splitting takes too long.

Fortunately, there are solutions. Integrated payment technologies such as Connect can make bill-splitting a breeze, enabling everyone to pay their share right at the table. 

It’s all part of providing good customer service, which, according to our report, is the number one consideration for consumers when choosing a restaurant. 

Taking payment is usually a restaurant’s last opportunity to demonstrate a good prompt service. With the right technology, the last transaction can leave a lasting impression.

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