Customers wait outside Lombardi’s Pizza in NY, wishing that they had an off premise solution.
Virtually every restaurant operator survey or study you read these days suggests that food-on-the-go will remain popular for the foreseeable future. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2023 State of the Industry Report, restaurant operators across all restaurant types surveyed said off-premises sales represented a higher proportion of their average daily sales than in 2019.
Sixty percent of operators expect off-premises sales to be about the same in 2023 as they were in 2022. Among Quick Service restaurant respondents, however, 34% expect an increase in off-site sales, while 30% survey participants in the Fast Casual segment foresee a bump in off-premises sales.
“>Are off premise sales flat in 2023?
Restaurant Operators responding “Yes:”
The New Normal
Is it any wonder? Increasingly, restaurant guests want convenience, and this means the ability to get the food they like using the method they like, often using the simplest, lowest friction way possible.
A good experience isn’t just a nice-to-have ‘dessert’ in this convenience economy. It’s the main dish, as diners consistently express the desire for their experiences to be consistent and low-friction regardless of how they order and obtain their food.
Wise restaurateurs are taking note – and acting. Operators surveyed by Nation’s Restaurant News ranked customer experience as the number one priority in terms of technology investment, followed by performance and productivity, employee experience, and business support (2023 Restaurant Technology Outlook, Nation’s Restaurant News Intelligence).
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OFF CHANNEL RISE
Fast Casual Segment
Meeting diner demands for convenience requires restaurants to offer off-site options and expand their points of ordering and service, whether it’s adding a direct online ordering channel, curbside pickup, or linebusters in the drive-thru during crunch time, for example.
Unfortunately, like falling dominoes, each new channel or service point has the potential to add complexity and runs the risk of eroding an optimal guest experience. Expanding service channels can also drive up costs further pinching operator margins even as labor, ingredient, and other costs escalate.
Despite the expectation of convenience, ordering experiences can still be frustrating for guests. Maybe it’s the busy signal when they try to call in a lunch order. Or the terse tone a harried server uses when taking an order.
Giving diners more ordering, payment, and food pickup options certainly checks the convenience box. But digital ordering is yesterday’s table stakes. The future lies in ordering and payment channels that reduce friction, give diners more control, and deliver consistent service experiences.
Three Tips for Rising to the Top in Customer Experience
Operators need to be aware of providing a consistent service experience across all digital channels. So what does this look like, operationally? Check out these tips.
- Automate perceived low-value tasks. Accepting orders and payment is one of those repetitive duties that most restaurant workers would never miss if you farmed it out to technology. What’s more, with labor costs on the rise, why not elevate those workers to a more fulfilling, high-value role while you avoid labor costs for low-value tasks? Voicify’s proven Natural Language Processing can typically accept orders more quickly and accurately than a human. Watch it take a complicated order for pizza.
- New service channels don’t operate in a void, so don’t adopt them as if they do. Consider all the ramifications across all aspects of your operation. For example, using Voicify to accept all your phone-in orders will make sure your guests never get a busy signal thereby boosting sales. But the added order volume could put your kitchen behind during crunch time unless you strategically schedule staff according to projected sales volume and find ways to streamline your prep to accommodate the steady stream of orders.
- Look for technologies that will integrate across more than one service channel. For example, Voicify natural language understanding can be used across telephony, drive-thru, web apps, and self-service kiosk. There is one voice agent experience that provides consistency on every channel, every time.
Voicify helps restaurants deliver superior dining experiences by increasing the accuracy, predictability, and effectiveness of the ordering experience, while upskilling workers and saving on labor costs. Contact us to discuss the challenges you’re trying to solve.
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