Although customers enjoy the convenience of delivery and take-out, they still value exceptional in-house customer service. It doesn’t have to be the same old boring routine: the customer tells the employee what they want and the employee tells them the price – and that’s the extent of their conversation. It can be a much more personal, valuable experience for both sides of the equation.
Many restaurants make the mistake of thinking that customer engagement only occurs face to face. They want employees to engage with them through a combination of a friendly tone and the latest restaurant technology.
In fact, a new study from Technomic shows that customers want to see new technology integrated into their dining experience, especially if it will speed up the process of getting their meal or paying their bill. Half of the survey’s respondents said it’s important for restaurants to start using the latest technologies, and they expect to use technology to order food more often in the coming year.
Here are a few restaurant technologies that can improve customer engagement:
1. Mobile ordering
As mentioned, studies show that customers expect to use the latest consumer technologies to order food and improve their restaurant experiences. A mobile ordering platform (that operates on the web, Apple iOS or both) can be integrated with your restaurant POS software to automatically send mobile phone orders to your system, sending them to your kitchen display system. Customers can then have their order delivered or pick it up.
2. Self-service kiosks
Ideal for quick service and fast casual style restaurants, self-service kiosks allow customers to place their own orders. While it may not mean they are engaging with an employee, they are able to engage with your menu and branding by browsing options and looking at pictures, which is just as important.
Speed plays a big role in customer service. Customers are generally much more satisfied with their experience if they are able to get their meal quickly and correctly. Not only do self-service kiosks allow them to “skip the line” so to speak, they streamline service bottlenecks to increase order turnover during peak times. Kiosks can be as simple as a customer-facing touch screen mounted on a table or wall. They are easily integrated with your existing POS software to send orders to your main terminals or kitchen display system.
3. Digital menu boards
Like mobile ordering platforms and self-service kiosks, digital menu boards allow customers to engage with your menu and brand through pictures and loops. At quick service and fast casual restaurants, customers will have aesthetically pleasing visuals to look at as they wait in line and make their meal decisions.
4. Customer loyalty
Customer loyalty has been around for many years, but its landscape has drastically changed. In the Technomic survey, 58 percent of restaurant diners said they’ve already used digital coupons. The new trend is to offer not just customer loyalty coupons and cards, but customer loyalty accounts. Each customer can sign up for their own account that allows them to accumulate points and loyalty rewards sent to their phone or email.
Customers expect a customer loyalty program that allows them to receive rewards through social media, their smartphone, your restaurant website, etc. Loyal customers are the foundation of your restaurant, so the more ways you allow them to be loyal – and reward them for their loyalty – the better. Not to mention, allowing them to interact with your restaurant on social media could inspire them to recommend it to a friend or follower.
Long story short, customers want to engage with your restaurant in as many ways as possible – and digital media and visuals are what they’ve come to expect.