The chill of winter is melting away, making way for the promises of summer, including sunshine, warmth and, for restaurants, oftentimes, an increase in business. Just as we put away the winter coats and break out the baseball or soccer gear to meet the coming season, restaurants can, and should, refresh their business strategies.
A restaurants’ summer roadmap for implementing emerging technologies can help support their servers, build patron loyalty, and create an overall exceptional customer experience. Here, we’ll discuss three key strategies for success in these areas.
A restaurant’s first step toward creating a great customer experience is ensuring its servers, the backbone of the restaurant, are happy and operating smoothly. According to TDn2K’s People Report, over 75 percent of restaurants are regularly understaffed. When servers don’t have the support that they need, they begin to feel the pressures of the job, and when they’re feeling burdened and overwhelmed by the number of customers and the lack of support, the customer experience is negatively impacted.
A short-staffed restaurant impacts every aspect of the customer experience, leading to long waits on everything from placing orders to receiving food to paying the bill. A restaurant’s maintenance of adequate staffing is also top-of-mind for customers, with 82 percent of customers saying that having enough staff is important to them, according to a recent Oracle study which asked 15,000 consumers around the world what is most important to them when dining out.
The implementation of labor management technology is one way to ensure restaurants have the optimal staff levels at all times—providing great service while not negatively impacting profits. This technology allows servers to better focus on their jobs and gives customers exceptional services and experiences.
Providing customers with consistent and dependable service is, in and of itself, a worthy goal. However, a restaurant should also be focused on retaining loyal, paying customers. According to an Oracle Hospitality study, customers tend to show their loyalty in two ways—through their activity and through their behavior. For instance, 47 percent of customers report that they will visit a brand that they are loyal to more frequently than others (activity), while 52 percent state that they will recommend these brands to a friend (behavior).
As we’ve already discussed, convenience and service play a big part in the customer’s experience. According to the Oracle Hospitality loyalty study, more than 80 percent of customers welcome technologies that would enhance these experiences—whether through recommendations and promotional information, the ability to order and pay for their order on a mobile app, or being able to track the progress of their orders.
When customers are presented with convenient and enjoyable experiences, they are not only more likely to come back to the restaurant time and time again, they are also more likely to recommend it to their friends and family.
Most importantly, customers feel special when a business goes above and beyond to ensure they are satisfied and taken care of. Whether this treatment is a service or the product, customers will not quickly forget their enjoyable experiences. Esteban Kolsky, founder and principal of ThinkJar, a customer strategy consulting organization helping companies and users successfully become better, reports that 55 percent of customers will pay more for a guaranteed good experience.
Quick and efficient service and order accuracy are the two areas in which this improvement is the most appreciated. According to the Oracle study mentioned earlier, 84 percent of consumers ranked fast, efficient service as their number one priority when visiting a restaurant, while 83 percent of consumers mentioned ‘“order accuracy’” as being important to them.
At the end of the day, customers are going to remember how they felt during their dining experience—whether they felt special and appreciated as a customer or were simply treated as a dollar sign.
“People are always willing to pay more to feel important, to feel remembered and to feel like they belong,” says Patric Yumul, president of Mina Group, a multi-chain restaurant group. “Knowing what a customer’s preferences are—what they like to eat, what they like drink and what they tend to order—goes a long way.”
Loyalty programs allow restaurants to track customers’ purchases, meaning the recipe for a great dining experience—favorite dishes, preferred pairings and more—is close at hand. By implementing the proper technologies, such as tablets for taking orders, high-performing POS software to process transactions quickly and accurately and kitchen management systems that deliver food on time, all rooted with a strong backbone that keeps customers’ preferences easily accessible, restaurants can provide their customers with these much-desired memorable experiences with everything just as they like it.
As restaurants create a game plan to tackle these daily challenges ranging from server happiness to strong customer loyalty, knowing which technologies to implement will determine whether these restaurants hit it out of the park or strike out.
David Galante is the Senior Director of Global Product Strategy of Oracle's Food and Beverage Global Business Unit. He and his team manage the Oracle Micros product solutions and integrations. This includes the Simphony product line and complementary software including Report & Analytics, Gift & Loyalty, and Inventory & Labor management. David and his team are building the future of the connected restaurant with Kiosks, cloud-based point of sale (POS) products and robust APIs for mobile applications. David has 18 years of product management and software development experience from past roles at Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, ExactTarget, Salesforce and Mobivity.