3rd July 2020: Payments solutions company Valitor has created a list of key recommendations which could help restaurants and bars exceed customer expectations when they reopen tomorrow. With restaurant and bar owners currently developing safe ways of working and selling for their businesses, the critical question is, will diners return and how will they choose their restaurant?
Valitor worked with market insight company Context Consulting to interview 2006 people across the UK about their dining habits and preferences. The white paper called “Understanding the Customer Experience”, suggests that customers may choose restaurants which now use tech to support their experience. With 77% of Generation Z and 57% of Generation Y respondents saying that they preferred to order and pay the bill via an app; card, contactless and mobile payments will continue to grow in popularity especially with the prospect of cash being temporarily prohibited in certain places.
According to the report, it is hard for restaurants to attract new customers with more than 3 in 4 respondents preferring familiar places. The challenge for new restaurants to break through is illustrated by the fact that while diners claim to love trying new places, they lean towards the familiar. Only 23% of diners overall prefer to eat out at a new place, rather than at a familiar restaurant. Many customers express the view that a certain amount of ‘courage’ is required to try somewhere for the first time. Three concerns stand out above all – how much will it cost, what is going to be on the menu and how will I get there. A way for a business to attract new customers during this time would be to be completely open about those three concerns. As the report says; “Make what’s on the menu and pricing information easier to find, and you will make the process of discovering your business much smoother for potential new customers.”
Customers across the generations will be looking for much more transparency from restaurants and bars, especially across areas such as hygiene, tipping and sustainability. “Customers are looking for more transparency on where their tips go, where their food has originated and how it is prepared,” said the report and this will only increase as diners become much more selective about their dining destination.
“This is a particularly stressful time for the hospitality industry,” said Dr Christine Bailey, Managing Director, UK & Ireland at Valitor. “From speaking to potential customers, we have identified ways in which independent restaurants and chains can create a fantastic customer experience and create brand loyalty during this time.”
“Customers will be looking forward to dining out again and returning to their favourite places,” said Philip Cooper, MD of Context Consulting. “The customers we spoke to, as part of the research, identified a number of frustrations they feel when dining out and now is an important time for restaurants to take heed of these.”
Valitor’s key recommendations on how to exceed customers’ expectations.
Before your customers’ arrival:
· Make sure you have the latest technology in place to help your service.
· Reduce staff interaction and create apps to order food and drink online.
· Ensure your card payment technology can accept all forms of payment such as mobile wallets, contactless, ApplePay etc.
· Make what’s on offer easier to find and talk about any unique selling points, offers and special events on your website and on-site.
· Think about how you can add a personal touch to your customers’ experience on the website and social platforms.
· Make your menu and reservations online.
During your customers’ experience:
· Create clear and easy to find information such as ingredients and food preparation.
· Ensure that your menu caters for changes in dietary habits and allergens e.g. vegan, allergens and calories online and gluten-free, dairy-free.
· Get tech-savvy – give your customers the option to book a table, pay the bill and order food and drinks via an app.
· Be open about your tipping policy E.g. If the tip goes 100% to the waiting staff, talk about this on the bill / app and also add in any information around sustainability, locally sourced and supporting local businesses.
After your customers’ experience:
· Encourage your guests to share information and images about their visits
· Get on Instagram and promote your more interesting food and drink options on social media.
· Send personalised offers to regular customers