Portable Chip & PIN machines taken to a customer's table do much to enhance the eating experience.
Customer service is an increasingly important factor in the success of any pub - and that service continues beyond providing the customer with food and drink. If they are paying by card, service includes the speed, efficiency and security of the final transaction - and that could be where many businesses are slipping up.
Research among restaurant diners by Barclaycard Merchant Services has suggested that the last five minutes of a visit is a key time to impress.
Results revealed that one in three people have received bad service while paying their bill. What's more, 46 per cent of those would not visit the place again and 53 per cent would not recommend it to others, while 52 per cent would decrease their tip.
Security is top of the customer's agenda when paying by card, with more than a third of those in the Barclaycard survey feeling uncomfortable handing credit and debit cards over to staff - 80 per cent of these fearing card fraud.
The introduction of Chip & PIN may go some way towards alleviating these fears but portable Chip & PIN terminals, carried by staff to the table, will go further.
Robert Moss, head of proposition development at Barclaycard, believes that portable terminals are an affordable solution. "Our results show that three-quarters of customers who have never paid through one would feel more secure if their card payment was carried out in front of them, without the card being taken away," he says.
Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, backs up these conclusions.
"The research highlights the importance of good service when customers are paying the bill," he says. "It will no longer be acceptable to disappear with a customer's credit or debit card and we advise businesses to look very closely at introducing Chip & PIN-compliant portable terminals."
The portable terminal is a compact handset that staff can take to customers. It accepts all major credit and debit cards and supports sales, tips, refunds and cashback.
According to the survey, 42 per cent of restaurant customers have already used one.
Case study: the Greyhound Inn, Chester
One way Chip & PIN makes it possible to improve service is in pubs with table service. Instead of having to pay at the bar, or letting their credit or debit card out of their sight, portable terminals make it easy for customers to pay at the table.
Carl Jones, who owns the Greyhound Inn in Chester, has swapped his static Chip & PIN terminal for a portable Ingenico terminal supplied by Barclaycard Business.
"Before, customers were having to walk through the bar to the counter to pay, which I believe is unacceptable," he says. "The portable terminal provides considerable benefits for both me and my business.
"Not only does it stop customers having to wait ages for their bill then queue at the bar, it also reduces the possibility of card fraud and subsequent charge backs.
"Enabling the customer's card to remain within their sight at all times gives them added peace of mind. Customers have every right to expect safety and security when paying bills."
In addition to security and speed, Carl believes the new kit raises the whole image of his business."Our customers are generally looking for quality rather than quantity," he explains. "The portable terminal is an advanced piece of technology that I believe reinforces the quality of this establishment."