A new report from the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University reveals restaurant customers’ preference for restaurant-related technology. It describes how restaurants really can hone in on customer satisfaction as well as develop a powerful competitive advantage.
The study, “Customer Preferences for Restaurant Technology Innovations,” details eleven technologies, including pagers for table management, handheld order taking while waiting in line, internet-based ordering, kiosk-based payment, kiosk-based food ordering, online reservations, payment via SMS or text message, payment via smart card, payment via cell phone using NFC technology, virtual menus available tableside with nutrition information, and virtual menus online with nutritional information.
The preferences were measured at different stages of the dining experience: Pre-arrival, Post-arrival, Pre-process, In-process, and Post-process.
Of course, for technology involving provision of Nutrition Information, the online menus are accessed pre-arrival, and the in-house (tableside) menus with nutrition information are important for In- and Post-process. Welltech Bistro provides this technology for both online and in-house electronic menus.
Virtual menus available tableside with nutrition information was the most valued technology of all choices given to the 1737 respondents.
This report makes a stong case for why restaurants should bother with technology; it describes several benefits. Potential benefits to the customer include improved convenience and increased control; potential benefits to the restaurants include increased speed of service, reduced processing costs, increased volume and revenue, and improved service and food quality. And of course, looking specifically at the provision of nutrition inforamtion, there are additional benefits, such as enhanced state of health / weight (from choosing within dietary preferences) as well as a trust and loyalty toward the restaurant for disclosing the information.
The concluding paragraph of the report sums it up well:
“We will most certainly see more restaurants relying on
technology to create a competitive advantage. While these
technological approaches might find success in certain segments,
they must still be grounded in some sort of service
concept and not just a technological concept. To be economically
sustainable, technology must do something that adds
value in the eye of the customer. So, while technology might
take away some aspects of personal service, it may improve
service quality. If customers believe that an innovation adds
sufficient value, it is probably here to stay.”