Ordering via a restaurant ordering app is a simple and convenient method of self-service, which is often associated with ordering a takeaway to eat at home. However, Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst for many restaurants, pushing them to launch their own app ordering systems for table service.
With 26.4% of people admitting to using a mobile ordering app since March 2020 compared to just 15% prior to the virus outbreak, the hospitality industry is going full steam ahead spending money on app systems that provide table ordering, replacing the need for waiter service.
But a word of caution, while restaurant ordering apps are useful tools for your business and keep customers safe, they can have a negative impact on your customers’ experience by distancing you from your customers, therefore losing that personal touch.
The rise of mobile ordering
The experience of having a staff member take your order in a restaurant is being lost, as restaurant ordering apps now account for 60% of all digital orders. This is a growing trend in most chain restaurants but is this the experience your customers want?
Many businesses find it a simple way of putting an order in, allowing staff to focus on important tasks such as cleanliness and food preparation.
However, there are many downfalls to restaurant ordering apps. They can negatively impact the customer experience for those who relish face-to-face interactions or those who are uncomfortable with app ordering.
Restaurant ordering apps have gradually been introduced across the hospitality industry since the outbreak of Covid-19. Many companies opted for mobile ordering to keep customers safe and to conform to government guidelines.
A crucial factor for your business is to make your customers feel safe throughout their visit. A staggering 57% of consumers said their perception of what it is to feel safe in a hospitality venue had “permanently shifted”, meaning customers were less inclined to return to a business if safety measures were not implemented.
Mobile ordering has essentially shifted from a novelty to a necessity with contactless becoming especially useful the past 18 months, whether it be for pick-up, delivery, or even dine-in customers.
Contact is eliminated at every stage of the ordering process from viewing the menu, placing an order, and paying. As a result of this elimination, restaurants are embracing what makes dining out so desirable.
A shift in customer experience
Although there are many perks to restaurant ordering apps, the customer service is invaluable to your business as 86% of consumers say they would pay more for a great experience.
For many customers, dining out is a luxury that involves browsing a physical menu at their own leisure. This provides an opportunity to put phones away at the table to enjoy the company that they’re in.
However, ordering solely through an app can taint customer service and pose difficulty when dining out. If the app is hard to navigate or fails to work efficiently, this can leave a negative impression on the customer and stop them from returning.
Many customers like to ask questions regarding the food and often make alterations to their orders which can’t always be achieved on the app. This makes the need for face-to-face interactions still heavily desired. Additionally, restaurant ordering apps can eliminate certain age demographics from using the service and for those who wish to pay in cash.
These factors reduce the control you have and risk customers receiving a bad experience if they feel their needs are not being met.
Finding the right balance
To maintain a positive customer experience, find a balance that works for everyone. Offering your customers the choice to order via the app or through a staff member with physical menus will make them feel like their wants and needs are being addressed.
Introducing some alternative menu options such as disposable and recyclable table menus is a great way to provide customers with a menu that is both environmentally friendly and Covid-19 safe.
This way, staff can still remain part of the experience and customers can enjoy dining out whichever way suits them.