Creating the Next-generation Customer Experience for Restaurant Companies

Creating the Next-generation Customer Experience for Restaurant Companies

Seven in 10 surveyed restaurant customers expect apps to be more personal; quick service restaurant customers expect to spend 20 percent more when leveraging digital

A new Deloitte study finds that 40 percent of frequent restaurant visitors prefer to order online, and spend 26 percent more per online order at quick service restaurants (QSRs) and 13 percent more in casual and fast casual establishments.

The report, “The restaurant of the future: Creating the next-generation customer experience,” uncovers the options that surveyed restaurant customers want most – such as online ordering, payment flexibility and customization – and how these increase dining frequency, check size, customer conversion and loyalty.

“People have come to expect certain conveniences when they shop, travel and handle their finances – such as mobile access, personalization, loyalty tracking and no-touch transactions,” said Andrew Feinberg, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and restaurant and food service leader. “More and more, they want their restaurant experiences to feel the same way. The true restaurants of the future will likely be the ones that engage people in a personalized way, even as interactions become more omni-channel.”

Restaurant menu is still king

The restaurant menu is still the most important factor when choosing a restaurant for the first time, and 85 percent of survey respondents said they will view the menu on the restaurant’s own website when making that decision. If a QSR location lets them use technology customers will come back 6 percent more often, and spend 20 percent more each time. Also, when they order, the most important element of the menu is the ability to customize the order.

More ways to pay

Payment flexibility – such as splitting checks – is common practice in a traditional restaurant experience, and more than half of diners surveyed expect the same payment flexibility with take-out (54 percent) and drive-thru (53 percent) orders. Many guests on-the-go also want the option to pay by phone: nearly half of drive-thru (48 percent) and takeout (46 percent) guests want to pay by phone, compared with 31 percent of dine-in customers. Among those who want to pay by phone, half (50 percent) prefer to use the restaurant’s app.

Connections that count

While technology facilitates guest interactions, people still want to be recognized. In the survey, 70 percent of respondents said they look for apps that deliver personalized offers and convey the sense that a restaurant “knows them.” Additionally, 84 percent of respondents said that they will return if a restaurant responds directly to their feedback. And while many use their devices to collect and curate information on their own, 80 percent want to hear about discounts and special deals, with email (64 percent) as the most-preferred channel.

Feinberg added, “Restaurants should recognize the distinct preferences that align with each customer touch point and its purpose, from research to ordering to payment and feedback. In some instances, the individual prefers to take the initiative; in others, the brand has to push a message out. The mix tends to work better together, as part of a plan that integrates virtual and physical restaurant spaces, rather than focusing on a single channel or one-off tactic.”

Deloitte will present findings from the study and broader restaurant trends via webcast on Sept. 15, 2016. To learn more and register, visit: The restaurant of the future: Leveraging technology for competitive advantage.


In 2016, Deloitte surveyed 3,000 Millennial and 1,500 general population high-frequency (two or more visits per week) guests who visited quick service restaurant, fast casual and casual dining locations. In a separate part of the same fact-finding process, Deloitte carried out over 20 interviews with restaurant industry executives to discuss their organizations’ current and desired levels of digital technology strategy, adoption and plans ahead.