TMCnet Feature
May 02, 2022

How Technology is Aiding the Growth of Restaurants

Technology is intended to make people's lives easier. Its purpose is to make our personal and professional lives easier to manage. This is especially true in the restaurant industry, where simplification is essential. The restaurant industry has caught the attention of today's technology buzzwords (things like mobile apps, artificial intelligence, analytics, smart devices, and other such things), which is a good thing. And they've already made a significant difference in the lives of some of the early adopters of technological tools.

This is not a surprise at all. A significant and positive impact on the restaurant industry has always been made by technological advancements. It just makes sense to put these two things together. Restaurants want to provide their customers with a flawless, convenient, and enjoyable dining experience as much as possible. Technology provides a means of expediting processes while simultaneously improving the customer experience. Thus, the restaurant is able to achieve its objectives.

We'll take a look at some of the most popular restaurant technology tools that have recently hit the market and how they're assisting these establishments in improving their functions and providing a better overall dining experience for their customers.

Branded Mobile Apps

When it comes to restaurant technology, this is the big daddy of them all. Every aspect of restaurant technology in the digital age is influenced or improved in some way by the introduction of a branded mobile application. Customers and restaurant owners alike benefit from branded restaurant apps, which is why they have such a significant impact on the restaurant industry (and many, if not all, other customer-facing industries). Branded restaurant apps can do so much and provide so many benefits to both customers and restaurant owners. If you own or operate a restaurant of any type (fine dining, food truck, pop-up restaurant, fast food), there is an app-based function that would benefit your business and objectives.

The use of mobile apps provides a restaurant with the ability to:

  • Improve your ability to target potential diners by sending them location-based push notifications and coupons/deals.
  • App-based loyalty programs can help restaurants increase client retention and diner frequency.
  • Customers can now place online orders for pickup or delivery through a new and convenient channel.
  • Customers can now pay with their mobile device instead of their wallet, thanks to a variety of new payment options.
  • It is possible to reserve a table without making a phone call.
  • a great deal more

We've only scratched the surface of what mobile technology is capable of accomplishing. However, what we do know is that it is no longer considered to be the next "trend" to be on the lookout for, as it may have been perceived only a few years ago. Mobile applications are an absolute must-have for restaurants and other businesses that interact with their customers.

Restaurants such as Starbucks, Domino's Pizza, Taco Bell, and Buffalo Wild Wings serve as excellent examples of how you can deliver a mobile experience that exceeds the expectations of your customers. Providing value to customers where there previously was none (or very little) and enhancing your existing experience/atmosphere are the two most important goals to achieve.

Customers wanted an app that made it easier for them to order food online, pick it up from a location near them, and pay for it in the shortest amount of time possible, to help them get through the hectic morning commute. As a result, they now handle nearly a third of all transactions via their mobile application. An additional illustration: As part of their mobile experience, Buffalo Wild Wings developed a "Fight for Fandom" game that makes use of a person's location to connect them with other diners and place them on a local leaderboard based on their fandom. As a result, customers can compete with one another for the right to claim that particular restaurant location in the name of their favorite sports team. It is through this type of friendly competition that you can demonstrate how to make your mobile application an extension of your real-world dining experience.

Social Media Monitoring and Analysis

The food and the service are the two most important reasons why customers return to a restaurant. People prefer to eat in places that are familiar to them, where they feel welcomed and can relive their childhood sense of belonging. This is not an easy feeling to achieve because everyone has their own unique understanding or desire of what they want to feel or how they prefer to interact with the staff at a restaurant, which makes it difficult to achieve. While some diners may enjoy the chatty bartender who shares her personal anecdotes, others may prefer the peace and quiet of a booth in the corner. The more you can learn about your customers' behaviors and how they interact with your brand or restaurant, the better you will be able to strengthen the customer relationship and assist in the development of more hyper-loyal eaters in the long run, according to research. Your food will then be the one who speaks for itself.

There is a lot of data generated by social media and mobile apps, and a significant portion of that data is about your customers, which you can use to learn more about them and their relationship with your restaurant. Each time a customer tags your restaurant, places an online order, makes pictures of your distinctive restaurant chairs, or accesses your mobile app, it generates clues and insights into who they are, what menu items they enjoy the most, what days of the week they visit, how they feel about your restaurant, and everything in between and beyond.

The vast majority of restaurants are active on social media, and many of them respond to comments and interactions that occur on these platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (News - Alert), etc.). Responding to social media engagement is a great way to build brand awareness and appreciation, but it does not result in a comprehensive understanding of your brand and how it compares to competitors. In other words, it is critical to respond to individual customer comments, particularly those that are negative. If you own or operate a restaurant that receives a large number of engagements or interactions, it can be difficult to understand the majority opinion and determine where improvements can be implemented.

A business can take all of the mentions from social media and data from other sources and make sense of it all using today's self-service analytics tools. However, despite the fact that you may believe you have a good understanding of how your customers feel, do you know exactly how many times they have spoken highly of your beverage selection? How about the number of times they said something negative about someone? Which day of the week receives the greatest number of positive responses? What item on your menu receives the most positive feedback (even if it isn't always your best-selling item)? Analytics can provide access to these types of insights, as well as a plethora of others. Your customers are speaking, and you want to hear what they have to say.

Online and Mobile Ordering

Although online food ordering is not a new technology, the methods by which orders are placed, paid for, delivered, and picked up are changing. Over the last couple of years, Domino's has transformed the online food ordering experience. In particular, they were one of the first pizza chains to recognize the benefits of customers placing online orders rather than calling in to place orders. The likelihood of errors occurring as a result of miscommunication is reduced, staff members are not required to take a break from what they're doing in order to answer the phone, and it's easier to upsell through an online portal because there are pictures of the items, which makes the offer more enticing to the eater. Domino's has been able to achieve this by concentrating on their online ordering platform and allowing the majority of their food orders to come through digital channels.

Mobile apps have also played a role in this evolution and explosion in the number of digitally placed orders. Customers can place orders through a restaurant's branded app, which is convenient for them. When a customer uses an app, the app is already installed on their phone; their account is linked to the reward program (if one exists), making it simple to apply points or savings; and many apps even save previous orders, making it easier for them to place their order and have it delivered. There are also other, non-branded apps and services that have aided restaurants in processing orders and connecting people with their food options.

More and more restaurants are realizing the benefits of handling orders digitally and developing online and mobile ordering platforms, and the vast majority of diners will come to expect this level of convenience in the future. You may not have imagined your restaurant as a delivery or takeout establishment, but as this hope grows, you may find yourself needing to rely on a service to keep up with the ever-changing attitudes of consumers.

Adopting Technology Helps Your Business

The key to mastering restaurant technology in the digital age is to provide your customers with the greatest amount of convenience and value. What is it about the Starbucks app that makes it so popular? What is it about Domino's online ordering platform that people find so appealing? Simply put, they perform flawlessly in order to meet and exceed the expectations and desires of each and every one of their individual customers. Coffee chain Starbucks understands that people are in a rush in the morning and that long lines are a hindrance to their ability to get to work on time, which is why their extremely efficient mobile ordering system speeds up the checkout process.

Making a successful restaurant mobile app or even an online ordering platform requires understanding how these restaurant technology tools can be used to enhance your existing customer experience rather than completely changing it. To put it another way, how can you use these tools to make your dining experience more engaging and valuable to your guests? If you're not sure how to respond or where to begin, you may need to look into your social media analytics to figure out how to incorporate this technology into your restaurant's marketing strategy and operations.

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