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Creating inspired experiences
Over the past several years, restaurants have had to adjust their operations and customer experience, with technology playing a big role in that change. But as more customers continue to use digital technology for ordering and payment, many customers still prefer the in-person experience. This puts even more pressure on restaurant brands to keep pace with their more digitally advanced customers while not alienating customers who opt for in-person ordering and dining.
In this blog, we’ll look at how tech is changing the restaurant experience, why some customers still prefer the in-person restaurant experience, and how CX management can strike the right balance between digital transformation and the in-person experience.
Mobile app ordering has become the most popular way for customers to order food digitally. According to an SMG study, the number of diners with at least one restaurant app on their phone has increased from 62% to 83%, with 36% indicating they have more than five. In comparison to other digital ordering methods, mobile app ordering has become the king of the digital experience, far exceeding usage of tablets, kiosks, and QR codes.
Despite the increasing popularity of mobile app ordering, some restaurant brands are falling short in creating a convenient, seamless, and satisfying customer experience. The study also found 1 in 4 users have experienced a problem with their order, with lack of customization/substitution abilities or incorrect orders being the most-mentioned issues.
Brands that can iron out these issues and provide a more seamless digital experience have an advantage—when a customer doesn’t experience a problem with a mobile app, 25% are more likely to visit the restaurant more often.
While digital ordering continues to increase across the restaurant industry, there is still a big part of the population that prefers human interaction, with hesitance over digital touchpoints increasing with age. More than half of customers 55 and older said they would visit a restaurant less—or not visit it at all—if it moved to a fully digital ordering experience. Additionally, only 15% of customers of all ages said a fully digital order experience would make them visit that restaurant more.
By following data like this, restaurant brands can make informed decisions about which of their customers will and won’t be on-board with tech advancements and what steps they can take to not leave anyone behind.
When an SMG restaurant client was considering rolling out digital menu boards, they worked with their team to gauge performance against traditional menus. Data showed flat customer satisfaction scores from the tests and no positive impact to the bottom line.
By consulting their CX data + insights, the brand saved money by averting a costly tech implementation with a negligible benefit and could provide a quantitative rationale for the decision.
As digital ordering continues to increase across the restaurant industry, there is still a big part of the population that prefers an in-person experience—and an aversion to technology isn’t the only reason. Today’s consumers are cutting back on spending and looking for ways to save, which includes avoiding extra delivery fees.
Chipotle has noticed this shift recently, with last quarter reports showing an influx in in-person ordering and/or pick-up and a decline in delivery transactions. With these trend changes, the brand is placing even more focus on front-line execution and continuing to prioritize speed and order accuracy.
Does this mean Chipotle should scrap its digital and delivery strategy? Of course not. But the brand is a great example of why restaurants need a holistic view of the customer experience—across all channels and touchpoints—and must remain agile as trends continue to evolve.
To ensure the right tech decisions are being made, restaurants need to focus on the unique objectives of their brand along with the needs of their customers + individual locations. The following best practices can help guide tech enhancements:
Tech innovations are developing at a rapid pace, and missteps can potentially lose you customers, time, and valuable resources. Be sure you’re working with a partner to help find the right areas for improvement and the right technology that leads to objectively better experiences for your customers and employees.
Request a demo from SMG today to see how we’ve helped hundreds of restaurant brands improve customer experiences and boost their bottom line through data-driven insights and decision-making.
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