Is Your Tech Helping or Hindering Customer Retention?

Technology-enabled dining experiences are here to stay, so it’s important to understand the role they play in the relationship between brands and consumers.
man ordering food on a mobile phone

As pandemic-related concerns continue to subside, customer experiences during the last two years have had a lasting impact on consumers’ collective expectations. One of these is the popularity of mobile ordering. Since it appears that technology-enabled dining experiences are here to stay, it’s important to understand the role they play in the relationship between brands and consumers. Here, using data from Intouch Insight’s 2022 Restaurant Trends Report and ongoing consumer surveys, we’ll explore how mobile ordering apps can enhance your customer experience model and increase customer retention. We’ll also address the risks in leveraging third-party services.

The Mobile Ordering Experience

The popularity of mobile ordering apps is undeniable. As of 2022, 71% of consumers reported having used a mobile app to purchase a meal. And this is great for restaurant operators as these apps provide an efficient and cost-effective way to collect orders.

Consider the traditional method of a restaurant employee standing at a kiosk, inputting individual customer orders.  This can create a bottleneck as staff members have to manually enter each order before it’s received by the kitchen, but also increases the possibility of human error due to higher volumes of orders.  Mobile ordering apps on the other hand allow each customer to input their order directly and shift the responsibility for the accuracy of the input order to the customer.

According to the latest restaurant trends report, mobile orders are highly accurate, averaging 91% across all brands surveyed. The most common issues found with mobile orders were items missing from the order followed by special instructions not followed and a wrong item being included.

Third-party Blues

The popularity of mobile ordering has caused many restaurants to turn to third-party services which allow restaurants to quickly offer mobile ordering  and often  delivery capabilities. Such services allow restaurants to forgo the up-front cost of developing an app and hiring and training delivery drivers.

However, consumer data shows customers want to engage directly with restaurants. Aside from the spring of 2020 when forced closures and new concerns around COVID-19 were the highest, third-party services have consistently ranked lowest among the ways patrons choose to engage with restaurants.

line graph of services used by diners to engage with restaurants

Keep ‘em Coming

This preference for directly engaging with restaurants is good news for operators looking to improve customer retention. When asked the top three reasons consumers stay loyal to a restaurant, they  ranked overall experience number one followed by quality of food, and cost.

No one is better at delivering on your brand promises than you and third-party apps are more concerned with keeping customers using their application than embodying your brand values. By keeping interactions between customers and your restaurant direct you can remain in control of their overall experience rather than relinquishing it to another brand.

Third-party services often charge high commission fees to restaurants and additional service fees to consumers. So, while your menu may be competitively priced, third-party fees could negatively impact customer retention.

News Your Restaurant Can Use

As technology continues to advance and change the way consumers and brands interact, so will customer expectations. Staying on top of the latest trends can be challenging for restaurant operators who have more than enough on their plates.

The full 2022 Restaurant Trends Report further explores current trends including consumer engagement, mobile ordering, and customer retention.