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More and more guests are using their smartphones to search for restaurants and make reservations. According to eConsultancy, 81% of smartphone-using consumers said they searched for a restaurant through a mobile app in the previous six months, and 92% searched via a mobile browser.

This data shows that customers are looking for restaurant information on the go from their smartphones. On top of that, they are making decisions based on the information they find: 75% of users chose a restaurant to eat at based on their mobile search results.

Why is this information so important? The answer is simple: it shows that restaurants can take advantage of this increase in smartphone usage to improve their customer experience and boost revenue.

Let’s take a look at a few ways going mobile will impact a restaurant’s customer experience:

Make Reservations Fast

Customers want to make quick reservations at their favorite restaurants without having to call. Mobile apps make that possible.

One report found that some restaurants have 12% of bookings made online, and 1/3 made from mobile devices. Businesses without an online restaurant reservation system miss out on potential revenue.

In addition, mobile and online booking can help to free up your staff to focus on the customers currently in the restaurant, giving them the best possible dining experience.

Utilizing an online and mobile booking system means less staff will be busy taking phone calls and organizing seating charts, and more time spent improving the customer service for diners.

In-App & Online Ordering

Customers are able to order their favorite dishes whenever and wherever they want with a mobile restaurant app or mobile browser. Users also feel less rushed when ordering through an app than they do ordering over the phone.

This feature is especially useful for takeout restaurants such as cafes, where ordering ahead of time can cut down on lines and wait times, according to Launch and Hustle. As a bonus, online orders are typically larger than orders placed in person.

Cousins’ Subs, a fast casual restaurant, has experienced “improved order accuracy, increased average check for online orders, reduced wait times and better guest service” after implementing a mobile ordering app, according to Director of Field Services Matthew Somoles.

In the nine-month period after adopting the app, the percentage of online sales at Cousins’ Subs increased from 0.5 to 2.2%, the average order increased 73% and online sales per store increased 66 percent.


The Evolution of Mobile Apps

mobile app reduces wait times by replacing traditional wait list pagers. Guests don’t have to crowd around an entryway waiting for their table – they can leave the restaurant and return right when the host is ready to seat them.

Integrating restaurant-specific content like menus, food photos and recommendations into a mobile app also improves the customer experience while waiting for a table. An app allows restaurants to communicate with diners on a personal level and offer convenient information at their fingertips. In addition, a mobile app can integrate value and incentives for customers to explore while they wait.

Customer Data Collection

The customer data collected through an app’s guest profile can be used to build a personalized loyalty program. Through the app, users will be prompted to join and reap the benefits.

Loyalty programs encourage new customers to return and existing customers to feel valued by the restaurant, according to Marketing Land. Integrating a thoughtful and tailored program into a restaurant’s mobile app will entice customers to join and revisit the restaurant. 

A guest profile can also improve the customer experience when dining. Users can input preferences, birthdays, anniversaries and other notes into their profile so servers and hosts can greet them with something to celebrate the occasion.


Final Thoughts

Restaurants optimized for mobile devices will have a leg up on their competitors’ customer experience because they’re meeting customers on familiar ground. Customers make reservations, order food and wait for their tables all on their smartphones, so being mobile-friendly is a great way to foster loyalty and keep diners coming back.

How is your restaurant improving customer experience with a mobile app?