Offering delicious food and great customer service is becoming a smaller component of why customers stay loyal to a brand in the food and beverage (F&B) industry. Eating out is as much about the adventure as mouth-watering dishes. Whether it’s fast-casual or high-end, consumers expect a memorable experience when they choose to dine out. Food and beverage professionals, nurture a loyal clientele and win business with the latest F&B trends.

 

Integrate Technology

Enhance the customer experience with the latest food and beverage technology. Start with guest management software that tracks returning customers. Imagine the client’s impression when a staff member says, ”Welcome back, Mr. Jones. Would you like your usual order of an Asian chicken salad?” Personally greeting the client and thanking them for coming back adds the “wow” factor to customer service. Open Table surveyed diners and found 65% wanted restaurants to remember their names and 50% wanted them to remember their favorite drink!

A packed venue means business booming. Help the front of house create a positive impression when they answer,“How long is the wait?” Guests don’t like to be told the wait is 15 minutes but find themselves still waiting half-an-hour later to be seated. Guest management software can produce accurate wait times, keeping those clients willing to wait happy and delighted when seated on time.

Guest management software is just one avenue to improve the customer experience. Try integrating with mobile applications that show potential customers the nearest restaurants and their real-time wait times. Displaying a shorter wait entices new clients to try out the restaurant. Other integrated digital experiences allow customers make personal choices. For fast-casual chains, the research shows customers like customizing their ingredients. Use touch screens for customers to place their orders and allow them to make changes to their food choices. Touch screen menus can suggest ideal food or beverage pairings for the items customers select.

 

Loyalty Tracking

For restaurants utilizing mobile applications or loyalty programs, what are the key features users want? A Deloitte study said 51% expect discounts as part of the loyalty program, but another significant number wanted engagement rewards. Much like earning a free small popcorn at the movie theater after watching five movies, restaurants can use the loyalty program to surprise their guests with rewards over time.

 

Food Stories

People want to know more about what actually goes into their food. Locally sourced food dominated the National Restaurant Association’s 2017 Culinary Forecast, showing the farm-to-table movement continues its popularity. Go ahead and tell consumers if the product is artisanal, local, naturally sourced, or grown on a particular farm. Restaurants that use menus to share food stories connect the meals to their sources, making consumers feel better about their choices.

 

Personalized experiences

Consumers want personalized experiences not just in the retail world, but in their restaurant experiences, too. Think beyond bringing consumers into the kitchen with chef’s tables. At Disneyland Resorts and Walt Disney World Resorts, customers can cook together to create the meal. Burton’s Grill & Bar takes a different approach by offering health and wellness classes. Other brands have tried increasing engagement by having customers vote on their favorite wine or beer pairing with a particular meal.

 

The key to improving the customer experience is providing more and more information. Whether it’s wanting to know how long their wait will be, or where their beef comes from, customers want choices. Delivering on these fronts will build a loyal following and brand advocates.

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