Seven Ways Tablets Are Changing Restaurant Customer Experience

The inexorable rise of mobile technology continues to shape the way we shop, dine out and use our leisure time. According to the latest figures from e-tail industry body IMRG and advisory firm Capgemini, while total online sales rose 18% year-on-year in December to £11.1bn, sales via mobile devices doubled to £3bn. Indeed, mobiles and tablet computers are now used for nearly 6% of all retail sales as Brits embrace shopping anytime, anywhere.

This trend presents both a challenge and an opportunity for brands in the eating and drinking out sector. With consumers increasingly carrying the technology around in their pockets, brands also have the opportunity to communicate with customers more frequently, and savvy brands are using technology to improve their guests’ experience.

Tablets are a driving force behind innovations in the front-end restaurant customer experience, whether in a quick service or a fast casual establishment. As more and more restaurants embrace tablet technology, there are several ways that they are revolutionizing the restaurant experience for brands and consumers.

1. Seamless Dining Experiences

Inspired by the ease of exceptional online buying events, guests value restaurants that provide seamless, hassle-free experiences from the moment they are seated through to the moment they pay. In many cases, restaurants are using tablets to offer table-side payment or other activities that streamline and improve the guest’s dining experience.

2. Cut the Queues

Fast food restaurants are using tablets to speed up the food ordering process and cut down on waiting time for customers. Orders can be taken from queuing customers on a wireless tablet to be ready for quick collection and payment at the counter, thus creating a positive brand experience.

3. Enhanced Interaction

Opportunities for enhanced interaction are prime targets for restaurants interested in improving customer experiences with tablet technology. Restaurants on the leading edge of tablet deployments have installed tablets at tables, allowing guests to interact with menus, place orders, pay bills and perform a range of other self-serve functions. Similarly, restaurants are exploring the use of promotional content or pay-as-you-go games that provide entertainment or customer engagement opportunities while guests wait for their food to arrive. These kinds of activities drive bottom-line improvements by leveraging customer experiences to increase loyalty.

4. “On the Fly” Data Insights

Tablets offer a non-threatening and engaging resource that restaurants can use to capture customer insights. While many guests are hesitant to provide personal information when they pay their bills or at the request of their servers, they are less resistant to providing data on their own terms, especially if the submission of data is tied to a discount or contest. Multi-site restaurants can leverage tablets to capture data insights at the local level, helping them tailor the customer experience to the desires and preferences of local consumers.

5. Guest Reviews

A great time to capture guest reviews is before they leave the restaurant, while details of the experience are top of mind. Willingness to provide feedback is also much greater with this immediacy, since even the most satisfied guests often don’t feel compelled to rate their experience later. In the restaurant industry, reviews are a key element in customer acquisition, and table-side tablets offer a ready-made resource for encouraging guests to share feedback about service, cuisine or other aspects of their experience. Reviews captured via tablets can then be used to build brand reputation and modify the customer experience based on guests’ suggestions.

6. Multichannel Feedback

Consumers use many different touch points to connect with the restaurant brands that are important to them. Surveys and other tools delivered on tablet devices create feedback that can be shared across all available channels, increasing the impact of brand advocacy and positive mentions. In particular, restaurants need to prioritize the use of tablets to capture feedback that can be distributed via social channels.

7. Enhanced Employee Engagement

One of the largest challenges with customer feedback is how to use the results when they arrive. Tablets can help to reshape this challenge by bringing results to life in a meaningful way to customer facing staff. Data visualization capabilities on tablets are extensive, but again the challenge is more than simply presenting guest feedback in a “pretty” way; it’s presenting it in a meaningful way that motivates staff and will drive guest experience improvement.

The real innovation in the use of tablet technology is that it enables restaurant brands to forge meaningful, direct connections among guests, restaurant managers and their staff. The deployment of table-side tablets gives guests more immediate options, inviting them to participate in activities that strengthen their relationship with the brand.

Just as importantly, tablets can significantly improve a restaurant’s ability to capture feedback and provide local guest insights—important factors in the brand’s ability to create and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

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