Even during a pandemic consumers crave experience from restaurants

Published February 19, 2021

The need to give customers rewarding experiences was already growing increasingly important for restaurants before the pandemic.

That’s because consumers and their spending habits have been changing for years. Now it’s less about material goods and more about entertainment-rich activities they can share with their friends and family. And even during a pandemic, they still want to enjoy those rewarding types of experiences—safely.

For restaurant owners and operators, giving their customers the dine-in experience they’re used to has become more challenging than ever. Many of their customers don’t feel safe dining in—if that’s even an option—and so restaurant operators have pivoted their focus to off-premise services. And that may leave both restaurant operators and customers wanting more.

But a well-run IT system can help. With the right platform, supported by a third party, restaurant owners and operators can focus their efforts on creating the most enjoyable experiences for guests, even during a pandemic.

A great customer experience has to be seamless


Even though customers understand the strain on restaurants during the pandemic, their demands for convenience have only increased.

Now customers expect to be able to order and pay for their food through any channel they have. And that’s now quite a few, including in-person in the restaurant, on their mobile devices, from their home and work computers and via drive-thru. Regardless of which channel they choose, they will expect the same service in each one. And every ordering and payment channel relies on technology to provide a user-friendly and frictionless experience. That goes for orders placed through third-party delivery companies, too.

And in many restaurants, technology streamlines order production and the pick-up process with useful tools like digital signage and geo-fencing.

As customers arrive, digital signage makes it easy for them to pick up orders when they can clearly see their names, order status and indicators for where to go. It’s also helpful for third-party delivery drivers who need real-time order status.

Before they even arrive, geo-fencing sends digital beacons that creates a digital “fence” around restaurants. So when customers (and delivery drivers) get close, restaurant staff gets an alert to start or complete an order and give customers digital updates.

Technology can also help restaurants with other aspects of their operations, like scheduling shifts and managing inventory.

Ideally, these technologies will be seamlessly linked and tied in with a technology-driven loyalty program and a robust data-analysis operation. These, in turn, provide insights for marketing and operations that together lay the groundwork for creating great guest experiences. 

Filling in the gaps with IT outsourcing


Many restaurant operators struggle to provide that seamless technology experience. That’s because pieces of their interlocking system may be in place, but significant holes remain. For example, in a rush to meet the challenges the restaurant industry faced during the pandemic, many operators have hastily added new systems such as curbside pickup and contactless payments. But, many times, they did so without integrating them with the rest of their technology in order to optimize the customer experience.

Outsourcing technology functions to a trusted partner delivers a way to quickly test and deploy the technologies needed to fill in the gaps of IT infrastructure and remain competitive. And outsourcing also allows restaurant operators to focus on the many other day-to-day challenges during the pandemic. That can include managing the changing roles of their staff, ensuring safety protocols are being followed and delivering the best customer service.

“Outsourcing your IT management can help you refocus your staff on the roles that matter,” NCR said in a recent blog post. “They can have time back to go from good to great, no matter their role. And your IT management team can get time back, too, since they’ll be offloading the management of day-to-day technology infrastructure tasks. It all adds up to happier employees and smoother operations.”

With some help managing IT behind the scenes, restaurant operators and staff can use technology to create great guest experiences—and keep customers coming back for more.

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This post was originally published on Restaurant Business Online. Find it here.

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