Four ways hospitality tech can improve the customer journey in garden centre cafés and restaurants

With restaurants and cafes now playing a key role in driving revenue and footfall, operators need to consider how to meet the evolving expectations of customers in order to continue to drive growth in 2022 and beyond.

Delivering exceptional customer service in garden centre cafés and restaurants can be easily achieved by implementing the right tech – and technology specifically designed to meet the challenges of a hospitality environment can be employed to give your restaurant the edge.

Here are four ways this tech can help improve the customer journey in your restaurant or café, compared to a standard retail system:

1 – Table booking systems can reduce queue times

Although us Brits are known to love a queue, we don’t like to be kept waiting unnecessarily. In fact, according to research we conducted together with KAM Media, the main point of frustration for consumers when eating out is being forced to queue for a table.

Implementing a simple and easy-to-use booking system is one solution to alleviating this pain point. Having systems in place that allow customers to either reserve a table, or be added to a waiting list whilst they shop and be alerted when their table is available, is a great way to manage customer expectations and alleviate a major pain point for customers.

Further research also showed that 64% of consumers have reserved a table or space to eat or drink out since hospitality reopened in April 2021. With more customers wanting to have the assurance that their table is booked and ready for them, garden centres that offer this will get happier customers as a result.

2 – Mobile devices can speed up service

Not only do customers not like to be kept waiting, but we know from our research that customers are looking for slick, quick, convenient service.

The challenge then, is to deliver convenient service without compromising on the overall quality of face-to-face service. Going mobile is one solution to this dilemma. If you offer table service in your restaurants or cafes, or are considering offering it, handheld ordering devices can dramatically increase speed of service, eliminating the need for staff to rekey orders into the POS, saving your team a significant amount of time, reducing any potential mistakes and freeing them up to focus on delivering great customer service.

Enabling customers to easily order and pay directly from their mobile phones, is another easy-to-implement solution. Post-pandemic, customers have become accustomed to this method of ordering, with research discovering 79% of consumers were happy with the ease and speed of payment when paying digitally, indicating that desire for this method of ordering is here to stay.

3 – Digital loyalty schemes can drive repeat footfall

Our recent research found that80% of customers seek some form of personalisation from restaurants. What’s more, a third of people expect tailored discounts and details as a matter of course. But what does this mean for garden centres?

We know that people want to be treated on a personal level when eating out, so there’s every reason to believe they will have the same expectations when visiting your café or restaurant. Meeting these expectations will make them feel valued and hopefully keep them coming back again and again. Linking your EPoS system to a digital loyalty scheme is a fantastic way to achieve this, providing you with a wealth of information about your customers which can be used to create bespoke offers, deals and promotions as well as targeted marketing campaigns.

4 – Digital stock management can remove customer disappointment

Specialist hospitality technology can help keep track of stock levels down to every single ingredient – in real time. This is important in terms of reducing wastage and keeping costs down, but it also removes a customer frustration before it has even occurred.

We know that the another bugbear for customers in hospitality is ordering things on a menu that are sold out already and therefore unavailable to them.  With an inventory and ordering system such as Zonal’s, menus can be updated as items are ordered by customers and staff can be informed of shortages ahead of customers ordering them, side-stepping a potential customer upset.

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