Restaurants have led the way in embracing new technology. But what is the best technology to use? And do all technological advances actually improve the dining experience?

In a recent survey by Boost Capital, over half of diners said that technology is important when choosing a restaurant. Digital vouchers, booking online, apps, online reviews, contactless payments and free WiFi are now all key drivers in choosing a restaurant.

We believe there are some key questions to answer when assessing whether the right technology is being used by a restaurant

How good is the WiFi? Younger customers enjoy taking and sharing photos of their food but often find the restaurant’s free WiFi frustratingly slow. If you want to keep Millennials happy, you have to have good WiFi. Older customers like being connected, too.

How engaged are the best customers? Repeat customers may only comprise a quarter of a restaurant’s total clientele, but they are often responsible for two-thirds of the total revenue. Reward points alone are no longer enough. Busaba Eathai customers, for example, can earn loyalty points if they pay via the app. First a free beer, next time a basket of prawn crackers. Loyalty needs to be personalised and engaging.

How slick is the payment process? The Zapper app allows you to pay for your meal by simply scanning a QR code on the receipt. There is even a function to split the bill and pay separately: for the customer it saves time; for the restaurant it increases table turnover.

What does the app deliver? People like apps which are easy to use. With the Tossed app you can view the menu, pre-order, choose from your past orders and pick up from the express collection point. You even get a discount for ordering via the app.

Does technology enhance the dining experience?Digital menus are being widely introduced across fast food chains. They are impressive to use but reduce staff interaction to almost zero. It’s important to fully understand whether technology will have a positive or negative effect on the brand, and furthermore, what happens to customers while they are waiting for their food: do they end up standing in crowded areas struggling to use the overloaded WiFi?

How good is the online profile? A third of customers now read online reviews before booking a restaurant and one quarter go online at least once a month to look up restaurant nutrition information. Devoting resource to daily management of the online profile and information uploads is investment well made.

Quality, choice and reliability will always be the most important factors in choosing a restaurant, but implementing the most appropriate technology can provide a point of difference over competitors and enhance the customer experience.

Katie Tang

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