How QSRs and Fast Casual Restaurants Generate More Revenue Through In-App Customer Experiences

6 min read

Quick responses, personalization and empathy are must-haves for the NOW Customer, the consumer who sets their expectations for on-demand experiences on best-in-class companies like Amazon. Just as Amazon Prime has transformed eCommerce, apps like Uber Eats, Seamless and DoorDash have changed consumer expectations for online food ordering services. However, what remains the same is that consumers want orders filled quickly and want them right the first time.

A negative experience translates into lost revenue, especially in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) and fast-casual restaurant space, where loyalty and lifetime value are critical to a company’s overall success. And with the surge in to-go and delivery orders via digital platforms, restaurant brands were forced to transform to meet the demand and keep their customers happy. The urgent shift revealed which brands made long-term investments in digital customer experience (CX) and those still struggling to keep up.

In December 2021, Simplr hired a third-party mystery shop firm to anonymously evaluate the online and in-app customer experiences of 119 quick service and fast-casual restaurants. The mystery shoppers scored each brand on various measures covering the entire “phone-to-table” experience. The results, found in the State of Digital CX in Quick Service Restaurants report, offer insight into the online and in-app ordering experience.

Mystery Shop Methodology

We asked shoppers to rate their satisfaction, the likelihood of repurchase, level of effort, and other factors that influence a diner’s overall experience. We then asked them to rate their satisfaction with each restaurant as either very satisfied, satisfied, neutral, dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

The customer satisfaction scores (CSATs) collected were applied to three stages of the experience: ordering, customer support and overall. The experiences measured include: 

  • Placing the order online or in-app
  • Picking up the order or having it delivered
  • Contacting the brand via customer support after receiving the meal 

The results in the report come from 205 total mystery shops of 119 restaurants. Most restaurants were shopped twice – once for pickup and once for delivery (if available).

3 Key Takeaways to Apply to Your In-App Customer Service

The most notable insight uncovered in the research is that great in-app customer support can salvage a negative outcome and make up for any shortcomings during the ordering experience. As restaurant brands test the feature and functionality of their apps, they should also evaluate their in-app customer support to ensure all touchpoints are optimized and ready to meet the NOW customer’s demands. Here are some additional key takeaways.

1. Don’t Leave Customers Waiting

The report’s findings highlight the difficulty of creating a flawless customer journey in the digital QSR space. Only 24% of restaurants achieved perfect CSATs across the entire customer journey. Additionally, the shoppers rated only 29% of the overall interactions as “very satisfying.” Now is the time for restaurant brands to update their customer journey and optimize all touchpoints in the “phone-to-table” experience.

2. Great Customer Service = Increased Loyalty

With so many third-party factors in the online ordering experience, mishaps are inevitable. The report not only finds great customer service by restaurants increases loyalty and repurchase rates, but a positive customer support interaction can compensate for poor UX, third-party delivery fails or technical errors. 90% of consumers who had a poor ordering experience still increased their likelihood of repurchasing from the company after a good customer service interaction.

3. Refunds & Empathy Are the Keys

Order errors are common in the restaurant industry; however, rectifying an online order issue poses a challenge. The report found that 72% of companies showed empathy towards an order issue. However, customer satisfaction only improved when the company showed empathy and offered a concrete resolution. 80% of customers felt better about their overall experience when the company issued an instant refund or restaurant credit.

To increase customer loyalty and lifetime value, QSRs and fast casual restaurants must consistently deliver timely, empathetic and effortless support NOW customers expect and remember that every interaction matters.

close up on customer man hand pressing on smartphone screen with five star rating feedback icon and press level good rank for giving best score point to review the service , technology business concept

How to Serve Up Exceptional In-App Customer Experiences

The digitalization of food and drink services in recent years, through online ordering services via websites and apps, has allowed more restaurants to deliver food to their customers than ever before. Statista reported that approximately 8% of food service sales were made via delivery in 2019, and they predict the number to rise to 8.9% in 2022. Additionally, the value of the U.S. QSR delivery market is 25.7 billion dollars, twice as much as the full-service restaurant delivery market, which indicates consumer preference for fast casual dining and an increase in competition.

Although a handful of brands in our research achieved high CSATs – a list is available in the report – the majority are still figuring out a sustainable digital strategy. We’ve learned a majority of customers are left wanting more after an online experience with a QSR or fast casual brand. And when it comes to online service, rectifying an order issue isn’t as simple as asking, “May I talk to your manager?” so customers need quick and easy access to support at their fingertips.

The QSR and Fast Casual brands that deliver exceptional in-app customer experiences make their customer support channel easy to find and quickly respond to customer inquiries. Response times longer than 24 hours cause customer frustration and neglect, leading to a negative review in many cases. It’s best to keep responses within the same day before a bad taste sets in.

NOW customers expect effortless, consistent, personalized service and rapid and empathetic resolutions on their terms. When companies miss the mark, they leave revenue on the table. Brands that meet the NOW customer’s expectations bake real-time conversations into the user experience to provide in-app support and grow revenue.

A traditional CX and contact center model doesn’t allow companies to meet the evolving needs of the always-on NOW customer, especially in the QSR space where rapid responses, personalization, and empathy are critical throughout the entire “phone-to-table” experience. Success requires a NOW CX approach to in-app customer support with opportunities to build customer loyalty, increase revenue, and grow wallet share.

Ready to deliver optimal engagement and rapid resolutions around the clock? Talk to Simplr to learn how they make 24/7 coverage of in-app live chat with real humans possible with their Human Cloud Network.

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