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The connected
restaurant: Creating
a mouth-watering
customer experience
in restaurants

Author: Nick Reese

While many guests may not be able to cook at the level of their favorite chefs, the reason for dining out is about much more than the food. The customer experience in restaurants is often the main purpose for dining out; guests want to hang out with friends, soak in the ambiance and have an enjoyable time—whether it's date night, or they're just grabbing a quick snack.

In a post-pandemic world, many restaurants are back and open for business, if not business as before. People now expect the digital convenience and customer experience that a connected restaurant can deliver. It's no longer enough to just take an order and bring out the food; you need to communicate, engage and entertain guests so that the service becomes as integral to the meal as the ingredients.

The restaurant industry is always changing to meet and exceed guest expectations to build trust and loyalty. For example, many restaurants now focus on offering smaller, simpler menus that allow them to prepare the finest meals possible while getting food out to guests quicker. In addition, restaurants are offering healthier options such as plant-based meat or vegan fare.

Restaurateurs are on the leading edge of exploring how to improve customer experience in a restaurant through the use of technology. Here are a few examples of how technology can help deliver a five-star dining experience.

Connected restaurants: Technology and the customer experience in restaurants

Technology has changed everything about how to improve the customer experience in a restaurant, from how food gets ordered to how the restaurant operates. From the guest's perspective, technologies adopted by connected restaurants can, for example, enable mobile micro-location promotions by proximity, luring in hungry pedestrians and travelers. Food can be ordered through an app, while sensor-based solutions automatically notify staff when a guest is at the restaurant for curbside pickup. Customers who are dining in can now self-order and pay at their tables using their phones or tablets, reducing the wait time for someone to come take an order or bring a check.

This can help significantly increase worker efficiency and productivity because servers can focus on ensuring a top-notch dining experience instead of processing orders and payments. When guests place their own orders, the food is prepared exactly as ordered, with no risk of misunderstanding by a waiter writing down the wrong order or forgetting a special request. Also, keep in mind that the more you improve the customer experience and make guests happy, your staff could become more satisfied, which could help you overcome the hiring and retention challenges that face the restaurant industry.

In addition to improving the customer experience in a connected restaurant, technology is improving how restaurants operate. For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) can now be used to track restaurant inventory such as ingredients to automatically order more when needed, while food temperatures can be analyzed to help prevent spoilage or guest illness. Analytics can provide new insights into meal popularity and surge times, helping chefs determine new options and managers to adequately staff.

A connected restaurant that relies on technology to deliver a winning guest experience needs to now focus as much on its network as it does its menu. That means leveraging an on-site LTE/private wireless network that can provide the high-speed, low-latency bandwidth required to power use cases like IoT, AI, and cloud platforms connecting the restaurant to corporate headquarters and customer-facing technologies such as video, interactive menus and more.

How to improve customer experience in a restaurant

If you're beginning to explore how to improve customer experience in a restaurant, all the technology options can be daunting—especially when you consider that most restaurateurs got into the industry to cook and entertain, not to work in IT.

The key is not to focus on specific technologies, as those are always changing. Instead, focus on what your guests want. By gathering data about how your customers prefer to interact with your restaurant, you can then make decisions about what solutions are right for you. After all, some restaurants like fast food are perfect candidates for an app, while hearing the special of the day from a waiter at a romantic bistro is part of the charm.

Some technologies can help improve the customer experience in connected restaurants no matter what you serve or who your customers are. For example, a mobile-optimized point-of-sale system like Clover allows guests to use their preferred payment method, whether a credit card, debit card or digital wallet, right from their tables or at the counter. This can help restaurants meet guests' needs in a hybrid environment where in-person dining, curbside pickup and delivery are all part of the new connected restaurant experience.

This solution combines the security of Verizon's industry-leading 5G-ready LTE network and the ThingSpace IoT platform with the latest payment technology to help you improve the customer experience while realizing operational efficiencies in your business.

Learn more about how Verizon can support a better customer experience in connected restaurants and beyond.