The consumer experience evolution

Aug. 14, 2014

By Paul Langenbahn,

President, NCR Hospitality

According to the National Restaurant Association, 33 percent of 18-24 year olds consider a restaurant’s technology options when choosing a full service restaurant and 24 percent of them choose a limited service restaurant based on its technology.

Consumers are increasingly using mobile technology to manage their entertainment experiences – whether that’s dining out, going to the movies or attending a sports game – and this fact is significantly influencing restaurants to rethink their consumer engagement initiatives. This is radically changing the direction of restaurant technology, and technology providers are providing the tools and strategies for their customers to help best serve today’s mobile consumer.

Let’s take a look at some of the lessons that have been learned while trying to solve these challenges:

  • As restaurants have implemented different types of consumer engagement mobile applications, they’ve learned that successful adoption comes with combining ordering, loyalty and payment capabilities into one application, rather than building separate apps for each of those functions. Restaurants that have focused their efforts on integrating those functions into one branded app are having early success in engaging their customers in both traditional and digital experiences.
  • Many restaurants today want to take a unique approach to their mobile consumer experience, and restaurant technology providers are helping them find the right solution to meet their needs. For example, a major national restaurant brand and NCR customer has been using online ordering for approximately 7 years. They added an iOS mobile ordering app in 2009 and an Android ordering app in 2013. As throughput is the most important operational element for them, they’re consistently looking to further integrate mobile payment and loyalty as a core component of their apps to speed up their lines and increase efficiency across all channels.
  • New service models will have a significant impact on many traditional business models for restaurants. As one example, a national fast food brand is piloting mobile ordering in their locations that enables their consumers to check-in and pick up their food in the drive-thru, at the front counter or even curbside. As a significant number of transactions move from being processed through the in-store POS to mobile and online methods, restaurant chains will need help implementing different operational processes and infrastructure to support this transition. Therefore, technology changes may need to be made to the POS, kitchen software and various SaaS applications to support this new service model.
  • Restaurant chains are continually looking for ways to drive additional revenue without adding additional cost, ultimately increasing their profitability. Order-ahead solutions, like mobile/online ordering, help solve this challenge. Businesses that use these types of solutions routinely see a 15 percent or more increase in their average check.

Today’s leading restaurant brands and technology providers are working together on the unified goal of creating better consumer engagement initiatives and further building the technology infrastructure that will aid operators in their mobile consumer engagement efforts. In order to be successful in today’s digital world, restaurants will need to operate with efficiency, manage for productivity gains and engage consumers across multiple platforms. The most successful businesses will be the ones who can quickly react to shifting customer behavior while at the same time providing consistency across all channels.

Paul Langenbahn currently serves as president of the Hospitality division for NCR Corporation.  Langenbahn leads NCR’s global hospitality business, including solution development, sales, marketing and services. Mr. Langenbahn joined NCR as part of the Radiant Systems acquisition in 2011, where he previously held a variety of key leadership positions including vice president of sales and marketing and president of the hospitality division across seventeen years with Radiant.

Topics: Customer Service / Experience, Mobile Payments, Online / Mobile / Social

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