The restaurant industry has been badly hit by the COVID pandemic. Around the world, thousands of restaurants have permanently closed, millions have lost their jobs. In India, The National Restaurant Association estimates that the industry could lose a staggering $225 billion from the pandemic. These are unprecedented times but if crisis is the true catalyst of change then we can expect enormous innovations happening in this industry to respond to changing customer behaviour and expectations. The hopes are that these innovations will give rise for an even stronger industry in the long run.
Restaurant operators are seeking innovations and modifying their business models for the new post COVID world. Starting from supply chain to restaurant layouts to dining experiences, everything is looked at with a new set of eyes.
Safety and hygiene becomes paramount when dining out. Restaurants which maintain hygiene will be rewarded with customer loyalty and hence the most crucial factor in winning customers for these restaurants will now be TRUST. Restaurants will now have more conscious diners as their customers so putting efforts into safety and hygiene for customers and communicating those efforts will be rewarded.
Restaurants focusing on winning customer trust will be rewarded with lifetime customer loyalty.
According to a survey by AMC Global, a market research firm, 38% of consumers say they will support local businesses more in the future.
Reducing touch points while dining out yet maintaining the experience of dining out displays efforts and sincerity, the restaurant has towards its customers.
Providing digital tokens to avoid waiting in lines, taking orders without touching paper or a screen and providing options for contactless payments will induce trust in customers to dine out.
One other behaviour that will change enormously is the frequency of visits. Diners will choose to visit places they trust more often than exploring new places. Therefore, winning customers and gaining their trust is important on their first visit. Customers will seek trust in the places they go to as a primary decision factor, instead of everything else - convenience, discounts, adventure, exploration, discovery, experience etc. TRUST will triumph all. Loyalty becomes of paramount importance to businesses. It is their loyal customers, their repeat visitors which will bring them business, keep them afloat. Maintaining effective communications with the customers will lead to more repeat visits. Once a customer trusts you, customers will not only visit you more often but also lead to more word of mouth. There is nothing better than winning yourself a brand advocate for your restaurant.
In general times, a loyal customer spends 60% more than an ordinary customer. The loyalty post crisis will be greater than ever, the repeat visits and the spends to the same businesses will be much much higher than before. Restaurants who can build this trust with their customers will be sure winners in the industry.