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It Pays To Innovate: How Restaurant Chains Stay Top-of-Mind with Tech-Savvy Customers

How chains are using technology to stay top of mind.

For years, we’ve predicted a changing landscape for how customers interact with restaurants digitally. Most of the time we were right (mobile ordering, delivery growth), but there were also some false starts (remember chatbots?). 

We’re not making predictions anymore—the age of tech-savvy customers is here and in full swing. These customers are a force to be reckoned with in our industry, since online orders are 20% larger, on average, than in-person orders. 

It pays to be tech-forward, and restaurant chains are uniquely capable of turning these customers into loyal regulars.

In this article, we’ll explore ways chains can appeal to tech adopters, including:

  • Deliver the ultimate in convenience: text ordering
  • Reimagine ‘loyalty’ to work in the digital world
  • Raise your game with a stand-alone ordering app

Blending research from top-tier consulting firms and endless feedback from restaurant operators in our community, this is a set of must-haves for chains that want to be seen as leaders among the digitally-engaged.

Give your Customers the Ultimate Convenience: Text Ordering

The primary catalyst to adopt new technologies is convenience, closely followed by time-savings. It’s true for all the big tech trends of our industry,from online ordering, to third-party delivery, to self-serve kiosks.

Tech-savvy customers will naturally gravitate toward the most convenient ordering methods—the paths of least resistance. Which means, if you want to appeal to this demographic, it’s not enough to follow the last trend. You need to anticipate the next trend.

The emerging convenience-boosting ordering trend right now: text-to-order.

We’ve written a lot about how artificial intelligence was the missing ingredient for text ordering to take off. Before the integration of AI, text ordering felt clunky, rudimentary, and error-prone (much like chatbots, which went by the wayside). 

Rather than being limited to a Domino’s-style “easy order” texting function, with tools like TextAI, customers can create fully-custom orders each time they text in.

As far as convenient ordering goes, it’s hard to compete with AI-powered text:

  • No apps to download or website to bookmark
  • Available anytime, anywhere
  • Ordering, payment, and pickup all through text

This technology is still new, but early signs point to unrivaled customer interaction (98% open rate!) and high levels of satisfaction due to the convenience. 

“Text to order is the best and easiest ordering experience on the planet, especially for a marketplace that prioritizes convenience.”Aaron Nilsson, CIO of Jet’s Pizza

Of all the ascendant ordering technologies, AI-enhanced text-to-order is, by far, the most convenient to use. We predict that those chains who leverage text ordering will outperform their competitors when it comes to attracting and retaining customers.

Stop Thinking of Loyalty as a “Program”

Loyalty programs are among the greatest assets a restaurant can have, since program-engaged customers spend 67% more, on average, compared to casually-engaged customers. That’s a huge difference. But even the best loyalty programs can grow staled in the quickly evolving restaurant tech landscape.

As online ordering becomes more and more seamless, so too are expectations for loyalty experiences—but most existing loyalty programs aren’t being reimagined to meet demand.

Tech-savvy customers don’t want loyalty to feel like a “program” on top of ordering. They want it baked into every interaction automatically—a fully-embedded experience.

For example, loyalty rewards from a mobile app are easy to access, but what if a customer is in-between two restaurants they want to visit in-person? Or what if they’re on the computer at work and don’t want to pull out their phone? Their ability to instantly engage your restaurant via their loyalty account anywhere will impact from where they decide to order food.

  • What’s Out: Programs that are siloed into individual ordering methods (mobile app, online, or in-person), or fractured by corporate vs franchise locations
  • What’s In: Omnichannel loyalty integration that works seamlessly across all ordering channels and locations

Smarter loyalty programs can help tie all your touchpoints together to deliver personalized experiences and compound loyalty, no matter where or how the customer engages.

Upgrade Your Online Ordering Experience for Maximum Engagement

Everyone has online ordering. That’s not new. 

But most restaurants haven’t given their online ordering platform the attention to detail that customers are becoming accustomed to—and that’s a problem.

A new 2021 study reaffirmed that 81% of customers prefer to order directly from restaurants, rather than via third-party apps and marketplaces. That is a strong level of preference.

But as we said, customers are now increasingly motivated by great user experiences and convenience, and when your competition is a $28 billion company like DoorDash, you can’t settle for so-so (or even good) online ordering experiences.

There are three ways, in particular, that chains can and should improve their online ordering experiences to stay top-of-mind:

  • Invest in Exceptional UX — DoorDash has ironed out all the kinks in the app’s user experience, making it natural and seamless. If your platform feels like it was designed a decade ago, it’s time to make a switch to a UX-optimized system.
  • Enable Works-Anywhere Ordering — Today’s customers expect saved items, order history, and personalized experiences to be available wherever they try to order. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a brand-specific app or a browser-based online store: the experience for customers should look, feel, and behave the same.
  • Always Up-To-Date Menus — A frequent point of frustration (that immediately calls attention to an outdated platform) are restaurant menus that are not cohesive across ordering platforms and locations. Old menus, items not marked out-of-stock, seasonal items that are no longer in-season. These inconsistencies are common, yet easy to solve, especially when your inventory system integrates directly with your online ordering platform.

These online ordering upgrades will propel you ahead of every restaurant chain that still has disjointed mobile apps, web ordering platforms, and mobile stores.

Buckle Up, Restaurant Technology Will Keep Evolving

Let’s circle back to where we started:

  • Restaurant technology is changing quickly
  • Tech-savvy customers prioritize technology to achieve greater convenience
  • To stay top of mind for these customers, you must embrace innovation

Rather than stitch together a bazillion apps and tools to stay up-to-date on new technology, we recommend partnering with an innovator who’ll help lead you forward.

At HungerRush, pioneering new technology is built into our DNA.

  • We launched curbside pickup less than six weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, months before other major restaurant POS platforms
  • We’re leading the way with AI-powered ordering via TextAI
  • Our restaurant management platform completely reimagines the traditional Point of Sale experience for both operators and customers

Want to see how our innovative platform can help your chain stand above the competition? 

👇 Request a personalized consultation below 👇

The post It Pays To Innovate: How Restaurant Chains Stay Top-of-Mind with Tech-Savvy Customers appeared first on HungerRush.