Digital Client Journey: A Serving of Insights Into Its Rapid Evolution

Digital Client Journey: A Serving of Insights Into Its Rapid Evolution

Customer expectations are growing and intensifying. Today’s customer wants more than a meal — they’re searching for an elevated experience that is quicker, more in tune with their own tastes and accessible to them in whatever channels they want. The digital customer journey consists of mobile and internet apps, kiosks, table-side pills for payment and voice ordering applications, among others.

These stations and technologies are expanding and evolving quickly. What was once an opportunity for operators to embrace them so as to become more efficient has become a mandated expectation set by the customer.

To stay competitive, you want to comprehend the new reality of consumer expectations, the increasing influx of technology and how implementing the right technology can positively influence the digital client journey.

Ultimately, you will need to comprehend how best to capitalize on technician that provides an exceptional customer experience — an expectation that is not likely to fade — or risk falling behind.

A New Era of Customer Expectations

Today’s clients are savvier, more connected, and have higher expectations than any other generation of consumers. The ubiquitous penetration of this smartphone has helped in furthering on-demand expectations.

Research demonstrates that 81 percent of Americans now have a mobile phone. As a result of apps that are easy to use, intuitive, fun, and effective for giving people what they need, consumers see their phones as remote controls on the planet.

This expectation extends in the merchants they frequent, the meals they pick, the interactions they have — or decline to have — with folks, and the choice of where they would like to eat. Fail in one of these areas, and the client will vanish, moving on the next available choice.

However, those who benefit and recognize the client, hasten the consumer travel, and deliver products in the way the customer needs, are on the right path to gaining and retaining customer loyalty.

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How do you manage these expectations and deliver the technology clients crave in a realistic manner? The first step is to understand the makeup of the tech landscape.

The Evolving Technology Landscape

The tech landscape can be described as the amount of every bit of technology used — or possibly used — inside an organization. It includes each element of the electronic customer travel, including:

  • Online ordering
  • native apps
  • web apps
  • voice apps
  • customer-facing screens
  • self service kiosks
  • digital menu boards
  • geofencing technology
  • place intelligence
  • drive thru technologies
  • loyalty apps

It is worth noting this does not include burgeoning technology which has not yet made it to market.

This game-changing technology is designed to meet customer demand, but the complexity and sheer volume of choices means that lots of organizations are just not keeping up.

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Check out the Data

In actuality, a new white paper published by the National Restaurant Association and Technomic revealed that 29 percent of operators say they are lagging the industry in regards to technology in their establishment. The reasons cited for not embracing new technologies include high costs, insufficient customer demand rather than recognizing it as a priority.

The same report shows that customers are seeking brands Offering the technology solutions they need at the cost of those lagging behind:

  • 56 percent of customers place delivery orders through restaurant sites, whereas only 45% provide this alternative.
  • 43 percent of delivery users place orders using a restaurant app, but just 18% of operators provide mobile ordering via their own app.
  • 31 percent of customers are receptive to purchasing through virtual assistant, but only 12 percent of operators provide this alternative.

This study aligns with the National Restaurant Association’s 2019 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, which found that a vast majority of consumers want to see restaurants integrate more technology in their companies to improve customer service, make ordering and payment procedures easier, and provide more convenient takeout and delivery choices.

Just how can an operator sift through the technology available to get the ideal solutions to meet the behavioral shift their clients are going through? Consider these three areas as they affect the electronic customer journey.

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#1. Online Ordering to Deliver Next-Level Client Experience

Alongside the growth of mobile technology has come the growth in out-of-restaurant sales. Delivery, takeout and curbside pickup have grown in popularity as third party solutions are making the process simple for customers to navigate.

In actuality, the National Restaurant Association’s white paper Harnessing Technology to Drive Off-Premises Revenue discovered that 90 percent of customers say they order takeout at least one time every month (29 percent more than a year ago) and 79% utilize restaurant delivery. Plus, 53% use third party delivery solutions, which is up 34 percent from last year.

This is of note as ticket size is bumped when food is ordered online versus in-house. PWC’s report, The Growing Menu & How the U.S Restaurant Industry is Negotiating a Challenging Environment, determined that mobile orders are generally greater than in-store orders. It cites Taco Bell as a brand reporting 30% higher average order values on mobile compared with in-store orders. The report also notes that Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay offering constitutes 10 percent of all transactions at the chain’s high-volume locations.

Growing Opportunity for Online & Mobile Orders

Understanding online and mobile orders are a growth area, restaurant operators not yet offering takeout or delivery are in a fantastic position to determine how to supply this offering.

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Based on Mark Harris, senior product manager in Revel Systems, there are two options for restaurant operators to consider: heading with an aggregator solution, such as Uber Eats, Grubhub, or DoorDash, or creating your own merchant solution. While third-party aggregators can offer a frictionless experience for customers, they also charge 20-30percent for each and every delivery made.

That is reason enough to think about a merchant solution, which is just as frictionless as that of an aggregator.

Worth in a Merchant Solution

Mark states,”If you decide to go with your own merchant solution, it includes a great deal of upside. This is your own site or app which you may market to your clients, so that you can find more information about your clients, which is often held back through the aggregator solutions.”

“You clearly get more revenue because they are not taking the substantial cut,” he adds. “You can brand your solution, which will resonate with some of those clients and begin to produce more stickiness for your brand versus some generic directory index, which you see on some of those apps. And you can push your loyalty programs versus getting one of several players.”

A National Restaurant Association study found that 91 percent of customers placed orders with a restaurant’s app or site in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, just 60% used a third party shipping service’s app. It’s apparent that customers prefer having a branded app, and conducting your own merchant solution provides the capacity to offer discounts or promotions like real-time geo-located couponing.

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#2: Kiosks to Speed Service

The restaurant business increasingly services clients that are true digital natives — Production Z has been born with technology, and hopes to use it for absolutely everything. In many ways, this creation — among others — favors interacting with devices to individuals. They anticipate interfaces to be intuitive, efficient, and cut right to the chase. While mobile apps can satisfy this demand off-premises, but in shop, so can kiosks.

In its State of the Restaurant Industry report, the National Restaurant Association found that service-enhancing pieces, like tablets in the dining table and self-service kiosks are technology that rate highest with customers.

Why? According to Mark, it depends on the store and on the market of the customer. When there’s a lineup in a register, there is a significant likelihood that the client will veer towards a kiosk or a different sort of application.

Additionally, he points out that kiosks have become a first option across age ranges, not only younger consumers. “The kiosk can be a replacement for a conventional register. They may be a line buster. Many places are just completely gutting all their POSes and simply replacing the entire thing with kiosks. It depends upon the model of the company, as some work better than others.”

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#3: Building Loyalty in the App Up

Part of the new era of consumer expectation is the demand for personalization. Customers do not want their interactions using a brand to be restricted to some faceless, nameless transaction — they need to be understood, remembered and understood. Brands which figure this out can build a bond of devotion.

To accomplish this, restaurant operators will need to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) technology. Collecting the proper information benefits both the operator and the client.

Strategies for CRM Optimization

A good CRM system can recall a client’s preferences, favorites, allergies and previous orders, making reordering easy, and allowing the operator to give legitimate, meaningful recommendations. Also, the information collected is also used to target advertising campaigns, which can help increase repeat visits.

CRM systems often align with loyalty programs, which may provide actionable information about clients and create”sticky” clients who select your restaurant consistently over other choices.

Hospitality Technology’s 2018 Customer Engagement Tech Study found that 45 percent of diners will pick a restaurant if they belong to its loyalty program — that can make a substantial effect on a restaurant’s bottom line. Additionally, a devotion increase of 7 percent may boost lifetime profits per client by up to 85 percent , according to a report by Brand Keys.

According to Mark,”82 percent of their loyalty program members refer to one individual. In case you’ve got 100 loyalty clients, that means 82 more guests are walking through the doorway.”

With that sort of return, not executing a loyalty program is ignoring a substantial competitive edge, and is something no restaurant should be without.


Meeting customer expectations in the current competitive environment extends beyond just studying the technology landscape. It requires finding your way to form it. To accomplish this, consider the needs and desires of your clients, and determine where you are able to incorporate technology to improve the digital customer travel.

Determined by the cross section of technology and convenience, while maintaining a human component and higher degree of customer service, will enhance loyalty and have your company serving up exactly what your clients crave.

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