How do you provide an excellent customer experience and reinforce your brand when you have little or no direct interaction with the customer?
This is the question restaurants are asking as they plan for the rest of 2021 and beyond. It’s been widely reported that customers expect to be able to continue ordering takeout and curbside delivery even after the threat of COVID-19 abates. In addition, they’ve also gotten used to digital conveniences like online ordering and contactless payment.
And restaurants aren’t pushing back. In the past year, contactless takeout and curbside options have been restaurants’ most dependable sources of revenue as well as their biggest success story. Which brings us back around to that question: What does a best-practice contactless customer experience look like?
Here are a few of the latest answers to emerge.
The Latest Tips For Your Digital Experience
One of the “didn’t see that coming” results of the pandemic has been the resurgence of QR codes in the restaurant industry because they’re easy to use, completely contactless, and cost-effective. They’re being used for everything from digital menus to making reservations to accessing loyalty programs – even for splitting payment among diners. If your operational processes haven’t incorporated the QR code, it may be past time you rediscovered it.
Other tips include:
- Make sure all your digital interactive spaces including menus and ordering are mobile friendly.
- Make your online menu interactive: Does it provide information about dietary restrictions, for instance, or allow for customization? Not only does this interaction improve the customer’s sense of control and their overall experience, but it also allows for the suggestion of add-ons and can increase the average bill size.
- Don’t overlook text when considering your digital channels. Restaurants are using it to confirm orders, provide estimated pickup times, let customers alert staff they’ve arrived for curbside pickup, etc.; this increases customer satisfaction and helps streamline traffic in and around your location.
- Have you added social media to your marketing mix? Millennials and Gen-Z are particularly prone to using social media to research dining picks, so make sure your social visuals post consistently and look delicious.
Finally, with all the new processes and fluctuating compliance regulations, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of employee training that’s agile and easily updated. Digital, mobile checklist apps can take all your paper-based training modules online, where they’re customizable, easily assigned to only the most relevant job descriptions, and accessible to any employee with a phone. They can train anywhere, and you need make any update only once and it’s rolled out to every device in real time.
Even though we’re talking about digital innovations, nothing bolsters branding like getting back to basics:
- Make sure all your communications materials and channels, digital and in-person, reflect your restaurant’s branding standards for colors, logos, font choice, and other representative markers.
- This includes your takeout packaging. Also make sure your packaging is sturdy, well-insulated, and otherwise capable of getting your food to its diner in delectable condition. This in an investment worth making when you consider it’s the only interaction you may have with your contactless customers.
- Take a close look at your “look” and see if it needs to be updated for your expanded digital presence: Does your logo and other branding look clear on a smartphone screen? Are your digital options easy to navigate? Have you included photos or even videos of your delicious fare?
What we’re really talking about is the need for consistency between the in-person and contactless experience, and between every location throughout every shift. Your customers should always recognize your brand no matter how they interact with your restaurant, and they should receive the same great service no matter their path.
One cost-effective way to develop this consistency is through digital, mobile auditing solutions that collect information from each shift and each store in real time and make it available through an app that can be accessed by anyone in your organization. Internal audits for branding and customer experience can be completed internally as often as is necessary; clearly posted results make it easy to see which locations are underperforming so that corrective action can be taken in a matter of hours instead of days or weeks. Unrecognized opportunities also become clear so that timely, data-based decisions can be made to support the growth of your chain.
Streamlining the Kitchen
No one knows what the future of the restaurant kitchen is: Bigger or smaller, or off-site? More menu items or less? What will the ratio of in-person to takeout ordering be? And on it goes. This uncertainty puts additional focus on consistency here as well, and achieving back-of-house consistency is easier through latest technological tools. That’s why 91% of restauranteurs have reported they’ve made or plan to make investments in kitchen automation technology.
One highly desirable technological innovation is the digital, mobile daily checklist app. Eliminating paper forms throughout your organization and making all your checklists available online instantly creates transparency and accountability for everything from compliance and cleaning practices to line and temperature checks. As any employee completes a check on their phone, the app automatically records the employee, time, date, and location, which becomes your legal record. Your documentation is kept continuously up to date on the app’s dashboard, which makes it easy for management to see and address any shortcomings.
MeazureUp Creates Stability
The pandemic has created a difficult period in the restaurant industry, and the brands that build on what kept them afloat through the rough times will be the ones that thrive. This applies to both contactless options and an excellent customer experience – even when these seem to be at odds. Let MeazureUp help your operations establish consistency and stability throughout your locations. This digital, mobile restaurant solution eliminates paper from your documentation processes as described above, houses and documents all your employee training, and brings all your checklist and audit functions straight to each employee, from your most junior line worker to your most senior executive.
Each member of your operational team receives excellent support for properly meeting their responsibilities, which develops the consistency your customers need to see throughout every interaction. For more information on how MeazureUp can create stability within your operations, contact us today.