Fast food restaurants need a balance between technology and humane treatment

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, restaurants have struggled to stay afloat. However, the attention on site, in the establishment itself, this has not always been possible due to lockdowns and closures imposed by necessity. This situation allowed Big Red Rooster, a JLL brand dedicated to carrying out market analyzes related to the hospitality sector, to discover the Importance of staff in front of the public in fast food restaurants.

The study, focusing on the experience perceived by the consumer, highlights some important points for QSR establishments, as they affect the way in which customer service can be improved and, therefore, put the establishment in a better position. in the competitive fast food market.

The study of the big red rooster

Big Red Rooster has previously done other research for JLL, such as the impact of urban micro-premises or the importance of taking advantage of the institution’s history or unique platforms to boost activity. They are therefore not neophytes in this field. The new market research they launched a few months ago surveyed consumers of several organized restaurant brands geared towards the fast food niche in the United States.

They were asked which elements of the restaurant were the most important to assess their compliance with the service provided by the place. 57% of participants responded that the work of the staff in front of the public was decisive in your user experience.

Some characteristics of employees considered positive were highlighted. They were the following:

  • Proactive attitude and good humor
  • Interest in putting the consumer at ease
  • friendliness in processing
  • Attention to consumer needs
  • Competence in the development of their tasks
  • Hygiene in presence and in operation

Surprisingly, these attributes stood out even above traditional business drivers, such as facility cleanliness or wait time. The coronavirus crisis seems to have increased our need for contact even in a commercial context, as well as the importance of health and hygiene in the hotel environment.

Should the restaurant invest in staff upgrading?

The next question in the questionnaire was about the options restaurants have to improve their customer experience once the importance of the model to them is known.

Thus, the study showed that the most important thing is that there is enough employees to handle incoming customer traffic. Waiting in restaurants has always been a source of friction; it is logical that, if these arise from a lack of staff, this point seems high. To this traditional component, it should also be added that the service can be more personalized if the staff does not have to serve customers against the clock.

Lack of labor and supply issues will change restaurant menus in the United States

72% of respondents indicated that this point was important. With percentages not too far off, the report also includes the following cases that can cause discomfort when dining out from home:

  • Employees are poorly paid (it shows in laziness at work)
  • Employees are unable to easily respond to on-site orders and those arriving through digital channels
  • The waiting time, whether at the time of ordering or receiving the dishes, is too long
  • Employees do not appear to have received sufficient training to carry out their duties in a professional manner
  • It is impossible to know if the order will be delivered correctly or if there will be an error

According to the answers given by the participants in the study, 69, 68, 67, 66 and 65% believe that these points, respectively, are the ones that obscure the most the good service provided by the hotel staff.

Digital transformation of QSR restaurants? Yes, but not at any price

Organized restaurants, and in particular chains dedicated to the fast food niche, have adopted many technological improvements to fully immerse themselves in the digital transformation that is leading us towards the new hospitality industry, including robotics and digital technology. automation of repetitive tasks.

However, when asked about the game of technology in QSR restaurants, participants reveal another reality. To know the menu, 54% prefer to be helped by a waiter. Only 20% feel more comfortable ordering directly from a menu without contactnail apps mobile, self-service ordering kiosk or similar.

Two in three hoteliers plan to increase their investment in technology

This percentage does not change much in the event that the customer wishes to make a personalized modification to his order. When it comes to removing the onion from the burger or asking for extra seasoning for the Pizza21% prefer to use technology, while 59% would use the model if possible.

The only interaction in which a change is perceived is the payment. Only half of consumers want to interact directly with the cashier or waitress staff responsible for picking up the order. Although, for the truth, digital payment methods are not very successful: Only 19% would make it their first choice.

Finally, it seems that robotic waiters will slowly take root in the QSR restaurant ecosystem in the USA. According to the Big Red Rooster study, 69% of visitors wish to receive their dishes in hand directly from the waiters. No automatons that roam the dining rooms from table to table, for the moment.

There is no doubt that technology for restaurants (chatbot, IoT, digital management, robots and others) is very important, but hospitality belongs to the service sector and people services are what they must provide. The human component cannot be isolated from the equation, is a constant you have to work with. And it must be considered at all times when making technology and design investment decisions that will affect the restaurant.


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