All customers have so many expectations these days, and that trend is not lost on restaurant consumers. Providing a seamless customer experience is paramount for frequent restaurant visitors.

A new Deloitte report reveals that 40% of frequent restaurant visitors prefer to order online, and they spend 26% more per online order at quick service restaurants (QSRs) and 13% more in casual and fast casual establishments.  

Titled, “The Restaurant of the Future: Creating the Next-generation Customer Experience,” the report points to various options that surveyed restaurant customers deem most important–such as online ordering, payment flexibility and customization–and how they increase dining frequency, check size, customer conversion, and loyalty.

“People have come to expect certain conveniences when they shop, travel, and handle their finances – such as mobile access, personalization, loyalty tracking, and no-touch transactions,” said Andrew Feinberg, Principal, Deloitte Consulting and Restaurant and Food Service Leader. “More and more, they want their restaurant experiences to feel the same way. The true restaurants of the future will likely be the ones that engage people in a personalized way, even as interactions become more omnichannel.”

According to the report, the restaurant menu is still the most important factor when choosing a restaurant for the first time, and 85% of survey respondents said they will view the menu on the restaurant’s own website when making that decision. If a QSR location lets them use technology, customers will come back 6% more often and spend 20% more each time. When they order, the most important element of the menu is the ability to customize the order. 

Here are some more key findings from the report:
Payment flexibility – such as splitting checks – is common practice in a traditional restaurant experience, and more than half of diners surveyed expect the same payment flexibility with takeout (54%) and drive-thru (53%) orders

Many guests on-the-go also want the option to pay by phone: Nearly half of drive-thru (48%) and takeout (46%) guests want to pay by phone, compared with 31% of dine-in customers. Among those who want to pay by phone, half (50% prefer to use the restaurant’s app.

70% of respondents said they look for apps that deliver personalized offers and convey the sense that a restaurant “knows them”

84% of respondents said that they will return if a restaurant responds directly to their feedback

“Restaurants should recognize the distinct preferences that align with each customer touch point and its purpose, from research to ordering to payment and feedback,” Feinberg added. “In some instances, the individual prefers to take the initiative; in others, the brand has to push a message out. The mix tends to work better together, as part of a plan that integrates virtual and physical restaurant spaces, rather than focusing on a single channel or one-off tactic.”

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