Restaurant tech: What pizza operators need now to woo today's customers

| by Christopher Sebes
Restaurant tech: What pizza operators need now to woo today's customers

Perhaps more for pizza brands than any other foodservice players, technology is the conduit that connects all the great food and innovations offered by any pizza restaurateur to customers' hearts and stomachs. And while it starts with an up-to-the-minute easy-to-navigate website and regularly monitored social media accounts, it doesn't end there if you want to not only stay in business, but thrive into the future. 

In fact, whether you realize it or not, your customers are engaging with your brand long before they walk through your doors and well after they leave. Today's technology — including customer relationship management software — is designed to help you interact with customers where and when they are ready to interact with you. The following can act as a gauge to ensure you're up to the minimum customer expectations these days and you're taking full advantage of the great opportunities tech offerings present pizza operators today. 

Before they even walk in your door or place an order 

Your customers are exposed to hundreds of restaurant marketing images throughout their day. The way to gain the upper hand is by offering incentives to visit your restaurant that catch potential customers as they perform searches online. 

Be aware that people have come to expect a modern restaurant to offer online ordering, as well as a mobile app, online reservations, delivery and loyalty program rewards. These are no longer perks in the eyes of most of your customers. In fact, many of today's millennial consumers are only interested in restaurants that offer online ordering and delivery, so don't miss this demographic right out of the gate.

When they come to eat in-restaurant 

Once customers enter your establishment, they'll be looking for familiar technology. You can increase sales by showcasing an easy-to-read digital menu board with customizable menu options, as well as providing free Wi-Fi and offering the option to place an order with a member of your staff or through quick-and-easy payment options, like a mobile app or payment kiosk. 

Even when diners opt to eat in the restaurant instead of ordering online for delivery, they expect their experience to be fast and seamless. The more you can do to help customers order and pay quickly, while also allowing them to customize their experiences with you, the better.

When your customers' are not dining with you 

Your engagement with your guests doesn't stop when they walk out your door. A great customer relationship management system automatically compiles the information you've gathered through touch-points, like reservations, online orders, gift card purchases and payment kiosk ordering. 

With this assortment of data, the best systems then create vast and rich customer profiles. This information allows you to stay in touch with each guest and customize your marketing to each individual, while rewarding them for frequent visits and extending other offers that show them they're tops with your brand. 

The take-away
Whether you're opening your first location or you've been in business for decades, providing customers with the technology they've grown to expect is one of the most important steps you can do to ensure you're engaging with your guests. 

Ideally, your technologies enable this engagement to occur at each point of contact with your restaurant. With ongoing engagement, you have an opportunity to increase their loyalty, and ultimately, boost your sales. In the end, your efforts will pay off when you obtain your end goal —a successful business. 

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Catering, Customer Service / Experience, Delivery, Digital Signage, Equipment & Supplies, Franchising & Growth, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Menu Boards, Mobile Payments, Online / Mobile / Social, Online Ordering, PCI Compliance, POS, Systems / Technology

Christopher Sebes

Christopher Sebes has spent his entire career in hospitality management and technology. He received a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management in England and managed hotels and restaurants on three continents including multi-unit restaurant operations in Europe and the US. He created the first Microsoft Windows point-of-sale company, Twenty20 Visual Systems, which he sold to Radiant Systems. He went on to become the CEO of Progressive Software before founding XPIENT in 2004. XPIENT was sold to Heartland Payments Systems in 2015, and he was tapped to become the President of Heartland Commerce, a major player in restaurant and retail management technology. Today Christopher is the President of Xenial Inc., formerly known as Heartland Commerce.

View Christopher Sebes's profile on LinkedIn

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