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Bridge The Gap: Customer Experience for Restaurants On- and Off-Premise

Authored By: David Warner, VP of Product Marketing

Modern restaurants must juggle two interconnected worlds: on-premises and off-premise. While traditionally you only had to worry about the restaurant dining experience, now you have to think about the customer experience online as well — which is a totally different animal.

The key to offering an excellent customer experience across all online channels and in the restaurant is to bind the two together using your restaurant data and technology.

An omnichannel strategy integrates on-premises channels with off-premises channels to create one seamless experience for your customers. A better experience builds loyalty and boosts profitability whichever way customers interact with your business.

Here’s what we’ll cover below:

  • How the omnichannel strategy adds a new dimension to a multichannel restaurant
  • How to blend the best of in-person and online interactions for a unified customer experience
  • The latest tech that helps you use data to drive profitability through next-level customer experience

Read on to discover actionable strategies using technology to create a seamless omnichannel experience that will keep your customers coming back for more.

For more on how to drive profitability through customer experience, check out our free data-backed guide.

How Is Omnichannel Different from Multichannel?

Multichannel simply means you use more than one channel to engage with your customers. These days almost every restaurant will be employing more than one sales or marketing channel. Most modern restaurants engage with walk-in customers and take reservations online. They take orders online via delivery marketplaces, over the phone, and often through their own ordering apps, as well as at the drive-through or from self-service ordering kiosks.

Omnichannel differs from multichannel in that the different channels and customer touchpoints are integrated to provide a consistent experience regardless of which way the customer interacts with the restaurant.

An omnichannel approach encompasses a multitude of marketing channels. Many restaurants simultaneously employ email marketing, send out physical menus, or use search engine advertising.

The key to pulling off a successful omnichannel strategy is having your customer data organized, consistent, and accessible across your system. This way, every touchpoint uses the same data and offers a consistently excellent experience to your guests.

5 Strategies to Create Great Experiences On- and Off-Premises

Restaurants have long strived to offer the best possible service to customers walking through the doors. Typically, that means greeting customers so they feel welcome and comfortable, then making sure they are well attended to and have everything they need throughout their visit.

Here’s how to replicate the best service customers expect in the restaurant across the multitude of channels that a modern restaurant deploys.

1. Personal Greetings on Every Channel

Restaurant regulars love to be greeted by name and given a warm welcome. It makes them feel included, recognized, and respected, and keeps them coming back for more. But if they order online or over the phone, they won’t be recognized and won’t get the same warm welcome.

To replicate the in-person welcome across channels, you can mirror your customer data and have it accessible to staff however the customer interacts with the restaurant.

One way to do this is to use Caller ID that connects to your POS system to recognize a regular customer’s phone number so that the system automatically pulls up their name, order history, preferences, and even current orders. Whether they’re calling in a new order or checking on an online order, they’ll get a personal greeting from a team member who has the information necessary to give them a better experience.

HungerRush offers this functionality from its POS data hub. See how HungerRush helps you engage customers and keep them coming back for more.

2. Menu Changes and Specials        

One of the most attractive aspects of dining out for many of us is the interaction with the server. A seasoned pro will tell you about the chef’s special, let you know if they’ve run out of anything on the menu, and recommend dishes based on your preferences. This can also be achieved over the phone as long as the call-taker has the right information.

For online orders, a common problem is out-of-date menus or inconsistency between how they look on different platforms and in the restaurant. Neglecting the online experience is a recipe for failure with such huge competition for people’s attention online.

Keeping your menu data up to date from a central hub means wherever a customer sees your menu, they are getting accurate information.

Here are some of the ways you can give your customer a better omnichannel experience with your menus:

  • Keep menus updated in real time to ensure a customer isn’t disappointed by, for example, being able to add an item to their cart, only to find when they check out that it is unavailable.
  • Promote certain dishes at the top of the screen as if it was on the specials board in the dining room.
  • Add personalized recommendations at checkout based on the customer’s previous orders and preferences.

A smart POS powering your menus can ensure consistency across all channels, whether on third-party marketplaces, your own ordering apps and sites, or your in-store menus.

3. Merging Online and In-Store Loyalty

Loyalty programs are one aspect of the restaurant experience that often works better online. Email marketing is incredibly effective at encouraging repeat purchases and the automation tools available offer a world of marketing tactics to give customers better experiences.

The trick is to tie together in-store and online loyalty programs.

Detailed customer data profiles allow restaurants to personalize their offers and build great relationships with their most loyal customers—driving online customers into the restaurant and vice versa.

Here are the best ways to merge online and offline loyalty:

  • Allow customers to sign up for rewards wherever it suits them best: on your ordering app, via an email, or in-store.
  • Make rewards instantly gratifying by allowing customers to receive them on an app as they make a purchase in-store. This allows you to keep track of online and in-store purchases in one place to offer a consistent loyalty experience.
  • Give out coupons with QR codes to remind customers to access their loyalty rewards online—in-store or at home.

When your customer data is consistent and accessible through all your channels, the possibilities for merging online and offline loyalty are near limitless.

4. Take Advantage of AI-Enabled Ordering

Innovations in AI-enabled ordering systems are offering new possibilities for the ways restaurants interact with customers. AI-powered automated talk and text ordering gives the customer the ultimate convenience of ordering through a messaging app or over the phone. The benefit for the restaurant is that it can be deployed at scale, because the restaurant doesn’t have to employ a team to monitor and process phone and text orders.

AI-powered ordering runs itself. It understands your menu and interprets customer messages to process orders without requiring customers to work through an ordering system manually.

Rather than staff being pulled away from other tasks to take orders on the phone, AI talk and text ordering automates the process to speed up service and save precious resources. It even tracks preferences and predicts orders in real time to offer the same excellent customer experience customers would expect in-store, but at scale.

Find out more about how OrderAI can help you engage customers at scale. 

5. Omnichannel Delivery

With so many ways to order food for delivery and multiple options for how it reaches the customer, delivery is ripe for the implementation of an omnichannel approach. The goal is to offer the same easy and convenient delivery experience to the customer whichever way they choose to order and receive the food.

You can do that by processing orders from every channel on one system. For example, HungerRush POS allows you to process orders through:

  • Native integrations like our new DoorDash integration
  • Your own website and apps
  • AI-powered text and voice ordering
  • Over the phone

Whichever way the customer orders, you can fulfill their order using your own drivers, a third-party service like the DoorDash Driver Network, or via curbside pickup.

All the data is processed in your POS to ensure that orders are handled quickly, accurately, and consistently however the customer orders or chooses to receive their food.

Better Profitability Through Omnichannel Success

Syncing your offline and online customer experience to meet the needs of your customers — whether they interact with you on-premises, off-premises, or both — leads to better customer relationships and longer-term loyalty.

Not only that, but new technologies like AI-powered voice and text ordering enable you to deploy an omnichannel strategy without tying up any extra man-hours taking orders.

The end result is more than the sum of its parts: a happier workforce that can focus on delivering exceptional service on-premises and a consistent experience for your customers no matter how they choose to interact with your restaurant.

For more on how to drive profitability through customer experience, check out our free data-backed guide.

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