Service or Convenience? New Survey Says Both


It’s a common conversation in the restaurant industry: Does the consumer want great service or great convenience? According to a new survey from POS provider Toast, they want both.

The Toast Restaurant Technology in 2016: Dining Edition report, a survey of 1,100 diners released today, demonstrates yet again that they want restaurants to have great food, great service and great technology.

When asked what was the most important factor influencing their visit, 61% of respondents said it was the food, 22% said quality service, followed by speed of service and speed of payment, with 7% and 5% respectively. Ambiance and everything else accounted for just 6% answers.

Few surprises there, but 79% of respondents also said technology improves their restaurant experience. Within restaurant technology, online reservations were deemed most important, followed by free wifi and online ordering. As for touch-screen kiosks, nearly 30% of respondents said they were not important at all. 

As for how customers use the technology, 88% of respondents said they had placed orders online and 62% used a mobile device; another 27% said they used online ordering on a weekly basis. So while the food and service are still the most important factors for restaurants, restaurants without digital options are missing out on incremental sales.

Those numbers tell a very clear story to the restaurant industry—today’s consumers live in a digital, on-demand world, and in order to compete, your restaurant business must operate there, too, said Toast CEO Chris Comparato. “I think the results of this survey prove that the opportunity for restaurants to create a better customer experience through technology is significant.”

There were other findings, too, that illuminated what guests will look for in the future. According to Toast, 42% of respondents used mobile payments like Apple Pay, a slow growth technology, but one restaurants should prepare for. Digital receipts are also a growing desire, as 42% of respondents in the Toast survey request email receipts instead of paper.

Overall, the survey shows that diners want it all, the option to interact digitally, great food and great service. Even restaurants that pledge never to put up an ordering kiosk can benefit without sacrificing ambiance. 

“Technology can enable a better experience both inside and outside of the restaurant's four walls,” said Comparato. “And diners will continue to enjoy visiting their favorite restaurants in person.”

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