As operators continue to welcome back guests in retail, dining, and to live events, they’re finding innovative ways to reopen successfully. Covid-19 has dramatically shifted perspective on what’s “business as usual.”
Successful businesses, however, are realizing it’s not Covid-19 they’re adapting to; it’s the way their customers have responded. Customer habits are now entirely different, and a new set of expectations have emerged. While many operators have been inspired to think outside the box, be creative, and embrace innovation in “the new normal,” they ultimately know going above and beyond for their customers is the real key to success.
Here are 5 new customer expectations businesses should prepare for—and simple ways to meet them to improve your guest experience.
1. Contactless payments.
It’s no surprise that contactless payment solutions are in demand. In a post-Covid-19 landscape, customers don’t want to touch keypads and screens or handle cash. They also want to minimize contact with staff, whether it’s a waiter at a restaurant or a cashier at a zoo.
If they haven’t already, businesses should start thinking about offering contactless payments. For instance, self-serve kiosks are equipped with “tap to pay” technology and mobile wallets (like Apple Pay and Google Pay), and digital, online, and mobile ordering (which utilize scan-to-order QR codes) have become essential. Curbside pickup is another great way to integrate contactless payments.
2. Social distancing.
Social distancing could be more commonplace, even after the pandemic. According to recent research, 84% of Americans use social distancing services now—like contactless payments and curbside pickup—and 86% expect to continue to have access once the pandemic is over.
While some indoor restaurants, stadiums, and other venues don’t allow guests yet, many that do have enforced social distancing rules with safety in mind—and it’s been successful. In restaurants, tables are set 6 to 10 feet apart, and stadiums are only allowing a small percentage of fans, spaced throughout seats.
Now’s a good time to find innovative ways to impress your customers and increase revenue while providing a safe environment. Many restaurants with outdoor dining have become creative with social distancing, like futuristic domed tables, fun and visually engaging factor that give customers more reason to visit.
A great way to increase volume is by transforming your outdoor areas into prime real estate. For instance, you can utilize your parking lot as an ordering location.
3. Improved customer service.
Businesses must rise to the occasion with customers, especially now. Consumers are spending more than usual, and they remember great experiences, so it’s crucial for businesses to deliver exceptional service.
Operators should think about always improving their relationship with their customers, whether it’s built over time or starting anew. If you embed food, beverage, and retail ordering inside a branded, native mobile app, you can create a loyalty program, a great tool to keep customers coming back with incentives, like earning and redeeming points.
Another easy way to improve customer service is through centralized reporting. When you have a robust analytics platform, you can see your customers’ spending behaviors, likes/dislikes, and more, which gives you a better understanding of their preferences and priorities.
The most important rule to maintain communication and exceed expectations? Always listen. Whether in-store, online reviews or social media, customer feedback can help you pivot and grow.
4. More convenience.
With social distancing, mask requirements, the changing landscape of businesses, and frequent shortages in product, convenience is key, and it’s exactly what customers crave. Not only do they want to avoid keypads and cash and minimize contact with staff, they also want to skip long lines and crowded places, and they definitely don’t want to spend a lot of time on a transaction or checkout. Businesses should prioritize convenience in their experiences, including simple ordering concepts, like mobile ordering or QR code-enabled table ordering.
In stadiums or concert venues, fans don’t have to miss any of the live events with solutions that allow them to order directly at their seat.
5. Better technology.
Technology is what helps modernize the world. Smartphones have replaced flip phones. WIFI eliminated dial-up. The list goes on.
POS systems are no different. As old-fashioned cash registers and Windows-based systems are becoming obsolete, businesses are adapting to modern times with cloud POS, which stores data in one platform, used by small chains and large-scale enterprise businesses alike.
Now, a unified commerce platform that includes POS, digital ordering, and menu management is becoming increasingly standard, and an omnichannel solution—from self-serve kiosks to handhelds—is the modern approach. Customers are not only familiar with the concept, they expect its versatility, convenience, and ease of use when ordering.