A recent survey conducted by Nielsen on some 4,500 restaurants revealed that understanding the new generation of customers is critical to the survival of today’s foodservice establishments. This means that for restaurants to endure in the current transformative and highly competitive restaurant landscape, implementing a customer experience that caters to this new generation is integral to the operations. But first, who is this ‘new generation’? A lot of people like to throw around the word ‘millennials’, but that’s a moniker that goes beyond simple demographics. To fully understand the new customer base, it’s essential to look at it as a mindset rather than a specific group. The Nielsen research tells us that the next generation of customers is “values-driven, hyperconnected, health-conscious, tech-savvy, social, collaborative and time-starved” and whether you like it or not, they’re already here.
So how does one translate this knowledge about the next-generation customers into doing more business with them? We know that people nowadays have certain expectations and conveniences when they shop, travel, handle their finances and now even in their dining experiences. The answer lies in using digital technology to enhance the knowledge and seizing the opportunity to customise it, which may sound like an intimidating notion to some, but is more commonplace than we think. Implementing new technologies to transform a customer’s dining experience doesn’t necessarily require a takedown of your restaurant’s previous assumptions or practices. More often than not, knowing a customer’s wants and needs can help you formulate a strategy and customise a dining experience for them. Hospitality software solutions like Extraorder, for example, is a mobile application that allows customers to browse the menu, place an order and pay all while using the technology in their phones. This is a smart way to put the responsibility to the customer and enhance the dining experience with a technology that nearly every one of us carries around these days.
Greg Harrison, owner and founder of Extraorder, shared that customers’ use of technology is a trend to watch in the hospitality tech industry in terms of improving the dining experience. He argued that the technology would allow staff more time to clear tables and interact with guests allowing for a better dining experience. This is an interesting point made by Harrison, as a lot of restaurateurs hesitate in implementing of new technologies in fear of making the experience impersonal for the guests; clearly, this is not the case. If anything, new technologies not only ensure a customised and more streamlined experience for the guests but will also allow more time for the wait staff to entertain them and provide a very personal and human experience.
For restaurants that integrate a digital experience with the traditional comfort and value of their practices, this will be a tremendous opportunity. However, for those who refuse change, there’s this; customers already expect these experiences and the next generation is here. It’s safe to say that the time for the restaurant of the future is now and there’s no stopping it.