Customers are anxious to return to dining rooms. Here’s what they’ll be looking for.
While the restaurants and bars are going through difficult times at the moment, we always have to keep in mind that things will eventually get better. History has always shown that businesses that stay ahead of the curb and adapt to changes quicker than others are the ones who will thrive.
When life returns to a new sense of normalcy, many will be eager to resume their social lives and once again receive the dining experience they’ve sorely missed.
Deloitte recently provided some valuable insight on what modern diners expect. They also reached the conclusion that restaurants who invest wisely in technology, online marketing and operations will be the ones who find success.
As we slowly transition from strictly takeout/delivery back to an influx of customers in dining rooms, what will these diners expect?
An engaging, flexible menu
While customer service will always be a significant factor in bringing guests back, diners will most likely choose which new restaurant to try out based on its menu. With so many options and diners easily finding new venues, it’s more important than ever to stand out with an engaging menu. For restaurateurs designing a menu, be sure to consider these factors:
Price: modern diners will pay for great value, so long as you’re delivering on quality.
Dietary Restrictions: does your menu take common allergens such as gluten, dairy or nuts into account?
Plant-based options: not only do plant-based options make vegans feel welcome, but plant-based options promote your restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. It’s also a chance to show how creative you can be.
Design: Make sure your menu catches eyes both on paper, and online.
Easy to follow: don’t overwhelm diners with a complex menu (especially since they’re likely hungry when looking at it!)
Another thing to keep in mind is that customers want flexibility when ordering. Could they substitute a sauce when choosing a pasta dish? Can they choose a different bun for their hamburger? Can they get a different side other than fries? Your menu should offer some customization options for diners.
Online Booking and Ordering
Ordering online is here to stay and many customers will prefer this approach. In fact, 40 percent of customers now prefer to order online. The good news for restaurateurs is that spending goes up online as well. Now is the time to invest in a restaurant online ordering system, as well as an online reservation option on your website.
By ensuring your restaurant offers its own convenient online ordering system, as well as a reservation option, you won’t have to rely on third party delivery apps or reservation services.
Think of how common a social practice it is for customers to split a bill, or simply split an appetizer. The majority of customers want this form of payment flexibility. Meanwhile the right restaurant POS system should enable staff to easily split bills by item, percentages or monetary values, to make this possible for customers.
Deloitte’s study revealed that 31% of diners want to pay by phone, with 50% wishing to pay via a restaurant app. That number may increase, with consumers growing increasingly hesitant to carry and exchange cash.
While Deloitte’s survey revealed that many consumers belong to less than three loyalty programs, these are still a great way to encourage repeat visits. You just have to make sure your program stands out and actually rewards customers for their loyalty. Discounts are obviously the main desire for loyalty members, but other key factors are engagement rewards and the ability to track loyalty points on an app.
Engagement when leaving feedback
While sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor might concern some restaurateurs, online reviews aren’t going away. Those who stay connected on review sites, as well as their own social media pages, will be able to manage their online reputation far better. The really attentive ones will be able to turn negatives into a positive.
If a diner has a disappointing experience at your restaurant, a simple, “Sorry we didn’t meet your expectations. Give us another chance and we’ll make sure you leave satisfied.” can make diners 84% more likely to return to your establishment.
As we prepare for the future, what trends are you keeping an eye on in the industry?
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