By Tobi Schneidler/Bouncepad CEO
A recent Bouncepad-commissioned survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers found that nearly 70 percent of respondents said they want technology to improve their experiences with fast food and fast casual restaurants. While many brands move to attract tech-savvy, QSR-loving millennials who dine out more than any other generation, other demographic groups like older boomers and seniors were found to want more QSR tech, too, with the survey showing 77 percent of respondents in those age groups felt that way.
But the real questions then are, how does a brand start in this endeavor or just double-check that the tech they have in place is meeting customers' needs and wants. Below are listed four key ideas that every restaurant digital endeavor should answer and either correct or continue confidently with.
Be the disrupter or the disrupted"
That's how McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook put it when he explained why the company was "doubling down" its technology commitment. With the survey showing that one in seven consumers name that particular brand as the most innovative in the fast food industry, it appears that McDonald's efforts are not only translating well to customers, but actually paying off in real dollars. In fact, since adding ordering kiosks to nearly 2,500 U.S. McDonald's restaurants and beginning the roll out of digital ordering in 3,500 U.S. locations, the chain's market has grown 5 percent, while it's also reported stronger than predicted Q2 domestic sales growth.
Start by taking a POS-ition digitally.
Digital POS is the first step fast food brands typically take on their tech journeys, making customer use and interaction with POS systems soon a commonplace and perhaps even "expected" part of the QSR experience. Additionally, nearly 43 percent of customers said they have used a tablet or kiosk instead of a cash register at a fast food or fast casual restaurant today, while 68 percent said they wanted to order food via those devices.
Take those tablets for all they're worth.
Think of other ways to use the tablet in customers' experience with your brand. For instance, though most customers say they want tablets or kiosks to place their orders, they also say they want to use them in other ways in fast food restaurants, with more than half saying they would use tablets while dining in-restaurant to watch videos, shop online, game-play or just surf the web. So, max out that tablet investment by providing digital access, experiences and entertainment for diners.
Show 'em the (digital) ropes.
It's true, few of us possess the tech skills to transition easily between different devices and applications, and survey respondents clearly agree, with 71 percent saying that even if they haven't used a self-serve tablet or kiosk before, they would do so if somebody would show them how. So yes, tech can streamline service, enhance efficiencies and entertain even, but only if customers use it. Make it easy and non-intimidating for them to learn and use your tablet or kiosk because they expect that from you, according to the survey. In fact, two of every five surveyed consumers said "customer service" should be a restaurant's No. 1 priority and that introducing anything new in service — including technology — demands that staff also help customers use it easily.
Tobi Schneidler is the founder and CEO of Bouncepad, a commercial tablet engagement expert and inventor of the commercial iPad stand.