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Executive Insight: The Role of Real-Time Communication

Amanda Long, Manager, Business Development, RelayPro

As restaurants scramble to adapt to the new normal, how can technology help by delivering efficiency, security, and ROI?

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants are being forced to quickly adapt to new standards and expectations. With safety and security being top of mind, many have had to alter their business model while figuring out new ways to remain efficient. Technology can help restaurants adapt to the new normal specifically in areas that promote safety among workers and customers, for example by shifting towards more touchless options - menus, payments, online and mobile ordering. Restaurants need to make it as easy as possible for customers to be able to order a meal without the overall experience feeling terribly different from dining in. By offering multiple delivery and contactless pick up options, as well as daily specials, customers can feel a sense of normalcy in a time when everything is far from it. Easy ordering systems will also continue to keep customers coming back and developing loyalty during this time, which will likely extend to when things do return to normal. Online ordering has become a lifeline for many restaurants today and will continue to be for the foreseeable future and by making that customer experience as easy as possible, the bigger the impact will be. 

As restaurants adopt and refine off-prem solutions such as pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery, what new challenges, such as security and food safety, does off-prem present? How is technology meeting those challenges?

A major challenge that restaurants will face with off-prem solutions is with real-time communication. Businesses that are concerned about the safety of their employees likely have implemented social distancing in the workplace as much as possible. Being spread apart or working remotely can put a strain on team communication, especially when real-time communication is typically needed and delays can have major business impacts. Ghost kitchens have had to come up with creative solutions for receiving orders from a centralized location and being able to communicate back and forth. New technology, such as Relay, allows for real-time communication through a small device that is able to connect to WiFi and 4G LTE. This connection allows nationwide coverage and the ability to keep entire teams connected no matter where they are located. This new way of ordering helps ghost kitchens and other off-prem solutions stay distanced and safe from exposure, while remaining efficient with their overall team communication. 

Restaurants are collecting more consumer data than ever before -- how can technology leverage that data to enhance direct-to-consumer communications, personalization, and loyalty?

One idea for how to use consumer data to enhance communications, personalization and loyalty would be to send customers offers and reminders via text message. For example, if you know that on weekends, a specific customer typically orders food for their family, then you can use that data to send a personalized message prior to dinnertime with a specific offer. Something such as “Don’t worry about cooking for everyone tonight, take the night off. Get free delivery with the purchase of an appetizer.” A message such as this could remind customers to not only order their food for the evening, but it would also help improve sales by encouraging them to add an appetizer to their order, in this example. Maybe that appetizer became a family favorite and now they continue to order it each time when they order from that restaurant, which continues to increase sales. You could also store favorite meals within the ordering app to make checkout fast and easy for customers. Using technology in this manner makes it easy for customers to keep your restaurant front of mind when trying to decide what’s for dinner and is likely to keep them coming back, which helps promote customer loyalty.