Guest experience is everything when it comes to restaurant success—not just the food. After all, a meal can be great, but if the bathrooms aren’t clean or the service is slow, a guest is less likely to become a regular.
With a seemingly limitless number of restaurants to try, atmosphere is more important than ever. “A customer who leaves happy and pleased with their experience is more likely to do two things—come back to that restaurant or frequent it more often, and recommend the restaurant to their friends,” says Nate Hedtke, V.P. of Marketing at Hospitality Mints. “In both instances, this leads to an increase of traffic for the restaurant.”
So how can restaurants boost the quality of the guest experience? Here are a few helpful tips:
Technology is being used in several ways to elevate the guest experience at restaurants. Some quick-serve and fast-casual restaurants have implemented self-serve order kiosks to speed up service during a rush. Other restaurants have installed tablets at tables so that diners can alert their server when they’re ready to order or if they need a drink refill. Customers can even pay their bills with the tablet, making it easier than ever to split the check. Technology helps streamline the ordering and serving processes, ensuring diners get what they want as easily as possible.
Mobile ordering is another way to use technology to revamp the guest experience. Ordering ahead of time allows busy diners to enjoy their food immediately upon arriving to a restaurant, rather than waiting in long lines.
Ensure diners know about mobile ordering or restaurant apps—they’re likely to use them. Millennials use mobile tech at restaurants more than Gen Z, according to Technomic’s recent Generational report, but as Gen Z ages and becomes more independent, they’re likely to be just as reliant, if not more so, on mobile tech.
Rethink restaurant design
According to Technomic’s recent Future of LSR: Fast-Food and Fast-Casual report, 37% of consumers say they expect a good ambiance at fast casual restaurants, and will go elsewhere if it isn’t offered. Comfortable seating, good lighting and appropriate music are just a few features of restaurant design—physical and atmospheric—that contribute to customer experience. “Many restaurants are completely redesigning their concepts to make it more inviting for consumers to hang out there,” Hedtke says. When customers hang out longer in a restaurant, they’re more likely to do things like get another drink, split a dessert, etc., increasing the check average.
Provide a unique experience
Diners can go just about anywhere and get a well-cooked meal. Often, it’s the experience diners have that sets restaurants apart. “More and more restaurants and chains are elevating their game, which forces other concepts to either do the same or be left behind,” Hedtke says. “Competition is as fierce as ever.”
But operators need not come up with the flashiest plans or social media-worthy virality. Instead, simple customer service is often what can bring a customer back. “Another thing I see more and more restaurants doing is having someone—usually, but not always, a manager—walk around and do “table touches” with the guests,” says Hedtke. “They stop by the tables, ask how you’re doing, ask how the service is and if you need anything else.”
In today’s landscape of ever-increasing competition, restaurants must be plugged into the best strategies to ensure customer satisfaction. Using technology, creating convenience, updating design for maximum comfort and providing excellent customer service are all great ways to make diners come back again and again.
This post is sponsored by Hospitality Mints