1. Arrival

First impressions count. In fact, on arrival 51% of drinkers and diners like to be greeted in person, and 37% want to be welcomed as a regular customer according to our recent GO Technology survey of 5,000 consumers.

It would be next-to-impossible to expect every member of staff to remember every returning customer, of course, so it’s a good thing that these days, technology can take the strain. A digital booking system can harvest valuable consumer data and help staff prepare personalised greetings, for example.

“Technology gives operators the opportunity to harvest valuable consumer data, which can help staff to prepare personalised greetings”

An integrated booking system, one that that is hooked up with your other core systems such as your EPoS, can take this a step further, flagging preferred tables, regular orders and other preferences. All of which provides a great first impression to your loyal customers and enables your staff to deliver that all important warm welcome.

Connecting a loyalty scheme will build on this even further, offering tailored rewards based on habits and preferences. These can be fed into your marketing communications and used in-venue to treat loyal customers to personalised perks such as discounts on food or drink, which nearly half of people say they look for in such schemes.

40% of people now think it is more important to them that a venue offers contactless order and pay than it was 12-months ago

2. Ordering

Our research in partnership with CGA shows that there is a clear priority for customers at this stage of their journey: friendly, efficient and knowledgeable service. 1 in 3 consumers cite “friendly and helpful” service as the most important aspect of ordering.

While it is certainly true that technology can’t make servers more friendly, it can give them the tools they need to do their job well. A good example of this is a digital or mobile ordering system.

50% of consumers say being told a dish is no longer available is the number one bugbear

This technology streamlines the ordering process by negating the need for serving staff to take orders by hand and then input it into a till, for example. Staff can now spend more time attending to guests, and with under-attentive waiting staff being the main in-venue gripe for 48% of customers, according to our Plan to Plate research in partnership with KAM Media, this is an important benefit of hospitality technology.

Other research shows that 1-in-8 pub and restaurant customers say seamless service is the top benefit of technology. To achieve this in your venue think about integrating your ordering and kitchen management systems. This will provide servers with up-to-date information with allergen info and other common queries, as well availability of products.

This latter benefit is a major one, as being told a dish is no longer available when trying to order is the number one bugbear of eating out, with 50% of consumers reporting this as a top turn off, according to the Plan to Plate data.

Integrating ordering and kitchen systems also allows servers to give customers realistic waiting times and for kitchen staff to deliver dishes at the right time and temperature, something 29% of consumers say is the most important thing about receiving their orders.

32% say they will carry on using contactless ordering post-Covid

Of course, the pandemic has changed the way we order – contactless order and pay, initially a solution to hygiene concerns during the pandemic, has proven its worth as far as customers are concerned.

According to Zonal and CGA research more than 40% of people now think it is more important to them that a venue offers contactless order and pay than it was 12-months ago6 and 32% say they will carry on using it post-Covid. When asked why that is, around half said it was due to the convenience, while 47% said it was about ease of payment.

3. Payment

The time it takes to receive the bill is often cited as a pain-point for pub and restaurant guests and so it’s no surprise that being able to pay immediately, and by the method they prefer, emerged as the two top priorities in a recent GO Technology report.

Both handheld readers and app-based payments are a solution here, with 41% of people wanting the option to pay via an app on their phone rather than via their server. Either method will improve the accuracy of bills, which is important as 14% of people cited an incorrect bill as a top frustration of paying in a recent GO Technology report.

41% of people wanting the option to pay via an app on their phone rather than via their server

While removing top customer grumbles is reason enough to invest in technology, the ability to then integrate it with a partner to enable it to further boost your bottom line seems like a sensible idea.

Companies like Wireless Social are set up to integrate with your EPoS, order and pay or feedback platform, to help you capture guest insight and offer tailored rewards when they connect to your WiFi. This can all be fed into your marketing campaigns and used to personalise customer service and there are other benefits too.

Driving footfall by partnering with drinks brands on campaigns or creating hyper-targeted social activity to tempt in new customers that fit the right profile, for example. Equally, you can use the data to improve your knowledge of your existing customers – who they are, when they visit you, how long they stay and why they come back.

Continue connecting the customer journey…

Get in touch with Zonal today to discover how our connected technology solutions are helping hospitality businesses of all shapes and sizes to understand and enhance their customer journeys, make significant service improvements and exploit new revenue streams.

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