Restaurants of the future

The next-generation customer is tech-savvy, well connected, and holds high expectations.

Restaurants of the future - busy restaurant

A restaurant’s brand is no longer only about food. Don’t get me wrong; food is obviously very important, but it’s the digital experience that will leave a lasting impact on customers and ultimately allow restaurants to differentiate themselves from the competition.

What do customers want?

Many restaurants are falling short when it comes to utilizing digital to improve the customer experience, and these will be the restaurants that are left behind.

In a post by Deloitte, Serving up a great restaurant customer experience, they talk about the emerging elements of the restaurant customer experience that really matter. These are…

  • Engagement: interacting with customers in a friendly, authentic way.
  • Empowerment: give customers the ability to customize to their specific needs, value their feedback and respond in an appropriate way.
  • Listen: demonstrate awareness of your customers situation and acknowledge their needs.
  • Delight: create experiences beyond your customers expectations that they will remember and share.
  • Personalize: remember your customers preferences and anticipate their changing needs.

Shaping your business model to reflect these points will prove crucial for restaurants moving forward.

But before you can start, first you need to have a solid understanding of your customers.

Understanding your customers

Winning restaurants will be the ones that commit to embedding smart technology into their operations to help them understand their customers demographics, behavior, and requirements. This level of detail allows brands to engage customers in a highly personalized way; driving an increase in dining frequency, total spend, and customer loyalty.

Here’s a list of ways you can capture that kind of data…

Online booking systems

Having an online booking system is not just a nice-to-have; customers expect it. It provides the perfect opportunity for you to collect customer names and contact details before they even enter your venue. For repeat customers, you will also be able to build up an understanding of their preferred dining times.

Here are some recommended booking systems along with pros and cons.

Loyalty program

Promoting offers that are available to your loyal customers encourages more people to sign up. Similar to an online booking system, this allows you to capture basic customer details such as their name and contact information with the added benefit of encouraging repeat visits with exclusive offers and discounts. Not only this, but a loyalty system will allow you to see the preferences of your loyal customers, helping you personalize their experience.

App

Customers want to be able to book a table, view the menu, access rewards, check the latest offers and discounts, and even pay the bill, all from one place. Having an app is becoming more important for restaurants and provides a great opportunity to capture customer information.

Click here to read more about how we helped Pizza Express increase their number of app downloads.

Encourage feedback

Give your customers the opportunity to leave feedback, whether that is through your app, a follow-up email after their visit, or a short form that you leave on their table. Feedback usually requires a little incentive – offer your customers 10% off their next visit or a free drink. This feedback will help you identify areas of the customer journey where you exceed expectations, or under deliver; enabling you to take action and give your customers what they really want.

Free WiFi

Offering free guest WiFi is nothing new, but many restaurants fail to use this as an opportunity to collect customer data. Guest WiFi not only improves the customer experience, it’s a great way to collect detailed demographic data. Installing a system that requires customers to complete a registration form or sign in using their social media account means you can quickly harvest data that will help you improve your customer communications.

Delight your customers

Remember the list at the beginning of the post? Customers want to be:

  • Engaged
  • Empowered
  • Listened to
  • Delighted
  • And they want their experience personalized

Data will help you achieve these goals. Not only will you know exactly who your customers are and how they interact with your brand, but you will be able to make informed decisions that positively impact the end-to-end customer experience.

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