Customer Experience Round-Up: December 23

Diners used to only have a few options when they wanted to eat out: sit in a fancy restaurant or drive through a fast food chain. However, changes in preferences, demographics and technology have provided today’s consumers with many more options. In order to survive, restaurants have to adapt and innovate. This week brought three stories of restaurants evolving their customer experiences.

Chipotle Unveils Walk-Up Windows

Chipotle is known for providing fresh Mexican food fast, but the chain will soon take things to the next level with new walk-up windows. Customers will be able to place an order through the mobile app and then walk up to the outside window to quickly get their food without going inside the restaurant. The goal is to make the experience faster and better both for customers ordering food to go and those ordering through the traditional method inside the restaurant. If successful in the few test locations, walk-up windows could be added to numerous other existing Chipotle locations.

Chipotle’s example shows the growing power of digital ordering and delivery. Customers like the convenience of being able to completely customize an order through the app, and the concept of walk-up windows streamlines the process even more. The windows are efficient for both customers and food delivery people to get their orders out faster. In the world of fast casual dining, convenience and speed are crucial.  

Consumers Prefer In-Restaurant Dining Over Delivery

Even with the massive growth of food delivery services in recent years, a new survey found that two-thirds of consumers still prefer to dine in a restaurant over take-out or delivery. Even with the convenience of delivery, a great restaurant dining experience can still win out. That doesn’t mean that all dining experiences are created equally, though. The survey also found that consumers value a consistent restaurant experience, both in quality of the service and quality of the food.

This survey echoes other customer experience trends: consistency is key. No matter if customers are ordering take-out or dining in a five-star restaurant, they want a reliable experience every time. The survey also points out that even with innovations in technology and convenience, a large number of consumers still want that in-person experience that can only happen in a restaurant.

IHOP To Expand To Fast Casual Dining

IHOP has long been known for its breakfast fare, but the restaurant will expand to fast casual dining in 2020 when it opens Flip’d by IHOP. With a smaller menu and half the real estate of a traditional IHOP, Flip’d allows the chain to strengthen its reach in urban areas. Instead of a wait staff to take orders, customers will order at a counter or through a kiosk. Many of IHOP’s most popular items will stay on the menu, but other meals will be updated to appeal to a younger crowd dining in a hurry.

More consumers are turning to fast casual dining to get food quickly. IHOP’s move could open the doors to a new group of busy consumers in urban areas. Other dine-in restaurants have also expanded to fast casual, showing the changing demographics and preferences of diners. Convenient service could win out over tradition.

Modern customers crave convenience and speed in everything they do, including eating out. These stories show that connecting with customers and finding innovative solutions can put restaurants ahead of the competition.

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