There was a time when the primary focus for restaurants was the customer experience when dining in their establishment. Then, the pandemic shifted those perceptions, and operators realized the benefits of multiple revenue streams and the need to maintain consistent brand awareness and experience across all channels. And the emerging shift toward omnichannel operations and marketing was born.
What Is an Omnichannel Restaurant?
A successful omnichannel restaurant offers a seamless, consistent customer experience across all channels. Whether dining in, ordering takeout or delivery, or taking advantage of curbside pickup, customers receive the same flawless, brand-conscious service and quality product.
Your guests may order online through your website, an app, or in person. They may engage through social media, email, or newsletters. Whichever platform or place your customer is on, your guests experience a personalized, rewarding experience.
What Is the Omnichannel Challenge for Restaurants?
As with most new operations and technology, it takes time for all the parts to integrate. When restaurants turned to delivery and pickup during the shutdowns, many had to scramble to integrate website and mobile app ordering.
Because the pieces of the puzzle weren’t designed as an integrated whole, all the parts didn’t fit together seamlessly. Whether turning to third-party delivery services or incorporating their own, pain points arose, and, for many, the customer experience faltered.
For many operators, finding platforms that offered an all-in-one approach for reservations, POS, BOH operations, delivery, loyalty programs, and customer communications was the technology that offered the best opportunity for an integrated customer experience across all channels.
To succeed in the omnichannel world involves meeting customers wherever they may be and whatever level of technology appeals to them, allowing them to experience your cuisine at home or in your establishment and know that they’ll receive the same consistent high quality.
Omnichannel at Work
The goal is to keep your guests within your interconnected system and ensure their journey is seamless and streamlined. It starts when they think about your delicious balsamic glazed steak and mushrooms. Do they choose to order in person, on your website, call in, from your mobile app, on a social media account, or through a third-party delivery service?
That’s a lot of choices. It will also take some effort to ensure a seamless, brand-forward experience no matter their preference.
You’ll want to ensure that all your ordering channels flow into one interconnected platform, such as a kitchen management system. This enables your kitchen to keep the orders flowing no matter where they originated from, and your customers experience the same delectable food, no matter how they order it. At the same time, the system lets you know where your orders are going, whether to a table, out for delivery, or at the curbside pickup station.
As you can see, the more channels your restaurant encompasses, the greater your customer reach.
What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
Of course, your customer communications don’t end when they pick up their meal. Staying in contact is a critical component of successful operations.
Omnichannel marketing simply connects with guests through multiple channels, engaging with them where they are the most comfortable and spend the most time, whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, or your mobile app or website.
Your brand identity must remain consistent on all channels. For example, you may create posts across all media using the same color palette. In addition, you need to develop a voice and maintain it, whether warm and welcoming, fun and exciting, or humorous and engaging.
The most challenging part for some operators is staying up-to-date with posts and providing prompt responses. If you cringe at the thought of another post or tweet, you may very well find you already have a staff member that relishes the world of social media and would be a great addition to your marketing team. In today’s world of immediate responses and feedback, it’s crucial to reply to customers quickly, especially if their experience was less than stellar.
Developing an immersive, engaging presence will keep your brand image fresh and your customers loyal.