While the restaurant industry has typically been slow to adopt tech, restaurants that have embraced technology have been rewarded. In fact, 57% of customers have stopped patronizing a business because a competing business has given them a better customer experience. Restaurants that embrace technology give their diners an elevated guest experience and give themselves a competitive advantage by raising the bar.
Beyond the onsite restaurant experience, customer expectations of service and technology have evolved to focus on digital and on-demand needs. We’re sharing how restaurants can meet these evolvinh needs affordably and efficiently in order to stay relevant, profitable and responsive to customer expectations.
1. Create a seamless customer experience with online reservations
In this day and age, the customer experience begins well before diners make it to the restaurant. The first touchpoint a customer has with a restaurant - making a reservation - has gone digital, and customers’ expectations have followed suit. Today’s diners don’t want to have to pick up the phone to talk to someone to make a reservation. They want to be able to make a reservation in two clicks online, on their own time.
If your competitor down the street makes it easier for customers to make reservations by enabling online reservations, then they’re stealing your customers. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune to start taking reservations online. SevenRooms’ reservation management tool saves restaurants 50% in online marketing fees. Give your customers the technology that fits their lifestyle by enabling online reservations.
2. Bring your restaurant experience to the virtual market with thrid party delivery apps
The online ordering and delivery business is forecasted to grow from $43 billion in 2017 to $76 billion in 2022. This growth reflects urban millennials’ inclination towards convenience - ordering in versus cooking or going out to eat. If your restaurant doesn’t offer online ordering and delivery, you’re missing out on growing your takeout revenue.
Online ordering is an opportunity to increase restaurant customer check sizes because one in four customers spend more on off-site orders than they do at restaurants. GrubHub, one of the leading online ordering platforms, boasts that their partners see a 30% monthly takeout revenue increase after a year on the platform.
If you currently only accept takeout orders over the phone, it’s easy to add online ordering to the mix. Some of the biggest delivery apps in the space (depending on your location) are GrubHub, Caviar, and Uber Eats. This guide to virtual restaurants can help you decide which online ordering platform or platforms are right for your restaurant.
3. Elevate the guest experience with customer service through social media
Just like consumers desire the ability to skip the phone call and make restaurant reservations online, consumers also want to be able to ask questions and communicate with restaurants online. Consumers crave the convenience and speed of online communication, and they’re expecting it from all types of businesses. Make sure your restaurant doesn’t fall behind.
Your best online customer service tool is something that your restaurant probably already uses regularly: social media. Customers are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more to get in touch with their favorite restaurants. They’re using tools like Facebook Messenger, Instagram direct messages, and tweets to ask questions about holiday hours, gluten-free menu options, catering, and more. With 62% of customers sharing bad experiences with others online, don’t forget to also address customer reviews on review sites like Yelp!, Google, and TripAdvisor.
How can you handle responding to questions on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp!, Google, and TripAdvisor in a timely manner while running a restaurant? It is almost impossible to do! If you want to attempt the do-it-yourself method, include social media community management as part of your restaurant manager’s or host’s duties. While this is a fine temporary solution, you’ll find that it can be difficult for your in-house staff to focus on social media when they have other jobs to do around the restaurant.
When it becomes too much for your team to handle, outsource social media community management to a digital marketing agency with experience working with restaurants because they understand the types of questions restaurants receive online, know how to handle them, and understand what customer feedback to communicate to you.
4. Enable SMS marketing for a frictionless customer experience
In addition to being able to reach restaurants via social media, restaurant customers also want to be able to communicate with restaurants via text. The ability to text restaurants, also known as SMS marketing, lets customers get answers in a way that is convenient to them. Because customers don’t have to download a separate app to communicate with your restaurant when you enable SMS marketing, they will reach out more often.
In addition to facilitating customer communication, SMS marketing also gives restaurants an opportunity to build customer loyalty, as SMS marketing solutions for restaurants usually include loyalty programs and the ability to alert customers about promotions via text.
5. Elevate the restaurant experience with personalization
Most of the tech we’ve discussed helps consumers before they even make it to your restaurant. When customers make the effort to dine out, they expect a personalized restaurant experience. Regulars want you to know their dining and seating preferences, dietary restrictions, special dates, and more to have a memorable restaurant experience.
Fortunately, you don’t have to have hire a mind reader to create an elevated guest experience. With guest data profiles, your team can keep track of guests’ preferences to give them five-star service every time they visit. And when you know which patrons will be coming in, you can use other tech like employee scheduling software to ensure that the right people are working at the right time. Use hospitality technology to give your customers the personalized restaurant experience they’re looking for.
Using Tech to Build a Better Restaurant Customer Experience
Today’s restaurant customers know what they want when they eat out (and in!). Before setting foot in your restaurant, customers want to be able to communicate with your team with just a few taps on their smartphone screens. When they choose to dine in, restaurant guests desire a highly personalized, memorable restaurant experience. When you adopt hospitality technology that facilitates your customers’ needs, you will make your restaurant stand out among the competition without adding much to your workload or expenses.