Digital orders and off-premise dining were trending long before stay-at-home requirements forced restaurants worldwide to close dine-in services. But trending to the extent they are today? Not quite. A recent survey from early June revealed that people stopped eating at restaurants when the pandemic hit. Not surprisingly, that’s when takeout and delivery took off. But social distancing has not satiated guests’ hunger for convenience. Now, more than ever, guests expect restaurants to deliver dine-in quality meals, directly to their homes with minimal effort on their part.
This has left restaurants worldwide scrambling to keep up with a new type of demand and operational issues that arise daily including how to handle the influx of “virtual” orders to ensure that takeout and delivery services get meals to at-home guests intact and piping hot. Restaurants with know-how are embracing strategies that empower them to find solutions to retain their new digital guests.
One approach to delivering superior off-premise experiences that keep guests coming back for more is to obtain their feedback. How can a restaurant manager understand what is lacking without first knowing the guest experience? Restaurants have to listen to guest feedback to understand where there are issues.
To ensure delivery orders are meeting guests’ expectations, restaurants can utilize an “active experience” approach. Technology that allows guests to share their delivery experience feedback via text, in-app, or email immediately after they receive their order is key to knowing what actions need to be taken to optimize and improve the overall experience. Cold meals turned upside down, the burger you ordered without mayonnaise and medium well comes rare and with mayonnaise and cold fries – these are all issues that restaurants are not privy to but require immediate attention or run the risk of potential customer churn. In our new virtual world, how can restaurants obtain real-time feedback? Real-time text analytics can help a restaurateur discover issues that impact revenue. This pandemic will not last forever, but customer loyalty can fade and never return.
Food packaging is an unexpected challenge many restaurants face in the shift to off-premise dining. Delivery workers often have to take multiple orders at once or leave meals on porches to avoid contact. The extra unknown travel time makes maintaining quality especially difficult.
For example, a manager wants to know why guests are dissatisfied with delivery orders to fix the issue and alleviate future problems. In an effort to reduce the amount of time meals stay in the delivery packaging, a restaurant can update delivery operations to include a notification to guests when meals arrive, or up to the minute food preparation to keep it as hot as possible during the delivery process. Servers can no longer obtain in-person guest feedback - it’s either no longer coming in or it’s not coming in on a regular basis to help identify system issues to customer churn.
In parallel, the restaurant’s insights team can use this information to find a long-term solution quickly—such as developing a new packaging solution. The restaurant could then develop and launch several different package options across geo-targeted locations to validate which package performs best before launching nationwide.
In order to launch new packaging quickly, a restaurant will need to know if guests see an improvement in the delivery meal firmness and temperature. Rapid research can help the team seamlessly capture feedback about each test package by targeting location-specific delivery guest segments with additional questions. These real-time insights can help the product team continue to optimize and test the new packaging.
Guest expectations and behaviors will continue to change. These are just a few tips to help retain guests and grow business, empower your entire restaurant organization to act on real-time guest feedback, and transform every dining experience.