15 Nov 2023
What do customers want from tech?
What DO customers want from tech?
The pandemic fast tracked the presence of technology in hospitality servicing as a way to eliminate the need for human touch. But customers are becoming more digitally savvy as we head toward 2024.
They not only expect to see technology as a part of a venue, they actively desire it.
The human touch
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. Front desk service staff are not likely to be out of a job.
According to a report by Zonal, 73% of customers want human interaction, and 55% of believe there is a balance to be had between technology and human touch. However, those who did prefer technology to human contact (50%) were aged 18-34. There could be developments in how customers engage with tech as time moves forward but we will evolve alongside that. It's clear that younger generations are already more accepting of technology, but there is evidence to suggest that Gen Z are still open to human interaction - particularly in the workplace. These stats are a big indicator of the future of hospitality - it’s all about being hospitable and developing relationships with others. Tech isn’t likely to replace humans.
This report goes on to state that customers prefer to use technology for the following:
Being reminded about a booking – 60%
Cancelling a booking – 51%
Making a booking – 47%
Making a pre-visit enquiry – 35%
But for the portion of customers who still prefer to deal with human interaction, there needs to be the availability of choice. Having options to either communicate with an establishment virtually or traditionally appears to be the best course of action for venues moving forward. 2 in 6 customers surveyed believe digital solutions enhance the best visits, which is a surprisingly low number. So yes, digital solutions can improve and enhance customer experience, but they are not the only contributor.
Autonomous ordering systems and apps
If you live in the UK, you may have noticed the Starship robots bustling through your local neighbourhood to deliver food orders to the front doors of hungry customers, with no need for human interaction. An autonomous robot delivery system, the concept is very futuristic.
But this method for delivery has been embraced by some big brands around the UK, and it’s helping businesses save on expensive labour costs while enabling their staff to carry out more meaningful tasks such as food preparation.
The autonomous delivery system is linked to an app which promotes better accessibility for customers. According to Statista, the global food delivery marketing is estimated to be $130.2 billion and is expected to grow to $223.7 billion by 2027. Apps are certainly expected to become more closely linked with the overall operations of a font of house staff.
Online ordering systems have made it easier for customers to order for larger parties, or state allergens and preferences without the need to write it all down and potentially forget something. It definitely makes life easier for both servers and customers. With cashless payment and contactless delivery, food delivery outside of the venue has become more efficient and customers are getting accustomed to this method of delivery.
QR technology is set to become even more popular as we head beyond 2023. Without the need for a menu, customers can simply scan the QR with their phone and access the most up to date version of a menu or communications from a venue. The QR code is versatile and allows venues to update their menus and communications without the need for printing costs and re-doing their entire suite of menus. It also enables venues to stay up to date with the seasonal waves, updating their communications in line with seasonal promotions.
This can only be a welcome addition for customers as they can always access the most up to date information and are not likely to miss out on deals and promotions. All they need is a smartphone, and QR codes can also enable contactless pay. However, venues must be mindful to blend this process with human interaction too, with customers reporting that they prefer to settle the bill with a human being.
There is perhaps a fear that technology will completely replace traditional methods of service, communication and operations in the hospitality industry. But that's not quite the case.
We could even expect to see QR codes and online ordering technology make its way into the sales cycle of venues with distributors as they enable them to take more accurate readings of their inventory and stock levels.
It's clear that customers, on the whole, embrace aspects of technology as part of the customer experience, they expect a balance between contactless and human interaction.
Overall, customers want to see technology become a part of the hospitality industry where it can enhance efficiency and make their lives easier. But not as a replacement for the human interaction we so crave.
At Classeq, we are passionate about the growth and success of the hospitality sector. That’s why we are committed to providing you with content that explores every juncture of the hospitality journey from the distribution of catering equipment right through to the patron’s plate.
If there is a topic you’d like us to explore further, do let us know. Otherwise, view our full content library here, orspeak to a member of the team today . Whether it’s a new machine you need, or technical support, our team is ready to assist.
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