Quick service restaurants have seen a rapid growth over the past five years, fuelling growth in the hospitality industry as a whole. In an age where consumer expectation is high, but time is poor, operators must be aware of the factors that influence the guest experience within this sector and how this can be managed, writes Steven Pike, managing director of HospitalityGEM.
1. First impressions
When new customers take a look through the window to be greeted by a menu lacking familiar items, they are less likely to come in. Ensuring that more traditional favourites remain widely available – such as sandwiches, wraps and toasties – will help to encourage a customer’s first visit. Once people are confident in your offering, they’ll be more inclined to experiment with adventurous dishes and alternative choices.
Foods that are perceived to be healthy, but don’t sacrifice taste, are also increasingly popular. 77% of diners look to eat a healthy meal, such as a superfood salad at lunch time2. But taste will often trump perceived healthiness when it comes to deciding whether to order the same item again.
Speed of service is crucial to time-poor consumers. Our research has revealed that 46% of diners cite ‘taking too long to bring drinks or food’ as the third most-influential guest grievance when eating out. Staff training, efficient process design and a concise offering are three factors that could help to improve this element.
An offering on someone’s doorstep will be far more appealing than one that involves an extra commitment. For example, when shopping, over a third (37%) of diners will always choose to eat at a restaurant that is within the shopping centre opposed to choosing an offering that is further afield. Location is key to this, however brand awareness through tactical online, social media and local marketing, is also a determining factor to encourage guest to recognise and choose your venue over others.
Disappointing food has been identified as the top guest grievance amongst consumers who regularly eat and drink out. While QSR are efficient by nature, this should not have a detrimental impact on quality of product. Choosing dishes that can be prepared in advance or quickly will improve the guest experience and encourage referrals.
6. Brand differentiation
In a saturated market, brand differentiation is fundamental to securing custom and encouraging return visits. Online activity is key to this, with almost two thirds of diners searching online for reviews before visiting. Online review sites provide an ideal platform for brands to start a conversation with guests – once they understand your brand, advocates can evolve into ambassadors.
HospitalityGEM is the a leading expert in Guest Experience Management (GEM). The company provides hospitality operators with tools for intelligence gathering, guest engagement and staff learning, working closely with them to help generate revenue growth through effective GEM. www.hgem.com