Customer satisfaction boils down to one thing

By Jennifer RubinOct 27th, 2023

“The temporary ‘pivots’ developed during the pandemic—expanded delivery services, outdoor dining options, to-go alcohol offerings, and investments in technology—are the foundation of the industry’s new normal.”2023 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, National Restaurant Association

The pandemic changed everything—especially the restaurant dining experience. Consumers are now 66% more likely to order takeout than they were in 2019, according to the National Restaurant Association. But as customers flock to apps and drive-thrus for easy ordering, how does it affect their view of your restaurant?

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TL;DR: Tech boosts satisfaction

SoundHound recently conducted a survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults who order from restaurants at least once a month. The goal was to see what factors influence customer satisfaction the most, and SoundHound used two methods to find out. The first was simply asking consumers directly and taking their stated responses. The second used a more advanced analytics technique to uncover derived responses.

For example, when asked directly, most diners listed quality of food, cleanliness, service, and pricing as the biggest influences on customer satisfaction, which isn’t surprising. The chart below shows the direct responses from diners.

Rankings based on stated importance

Don’t believe what you hear

Analysts in recent years have found that customers sometimes don’t tell the truth, either intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes they don’t want to answer in a way that seems anti-social, while other times they base their answers on a recent negative experience. As such, the responses might not reflect their true beliefs and influences.

By using a derived importance analysis, SoundHound uncovered factors that revealed the true drivers of consumer preferences, providing a more complete picture of what customers really want.

The chart below ranks attributes using derived importance. You can see a big jump from some attributes that were ranked lower in the previous chart. For example, when framed with derived importance, having a mobile app and modern design aesthetics shoot up to 4th and 5th.

Rankings based on derived importance

Consumers might say one thing but mean another. As such, hidden influences are often revealed when using regression analysis to highlight the correlation between individual attributes and customer satisfaction. Here we see that technology and innovation features score much higher with derived importance (DI) rankings.

Make room for innovation

All the research shows one thing: technology can provide a big boost in customer satisfaction.

On the flip side, restaurants that resist new technologies can see a negative impact. Since we now know that consumers are more likely to order takeout or delivery than ever before, the dining experience is happening outside the restaurant more often. That means restaurants need technology to enhance their customers’ experience outside the dining room, like mobile and app-based ordering, takeout and delivery options, etc.

Fresh restaurant tech worth following

Companies like ChowNow and SoundHound are working together to create new tech that helps restaurants tackle their biggest challenges. As ChowNow Chief Business Officer Eric Jaffe puts it: “We’re helping independent restaurants streamline operations, create more bandwidth, and forge stronger connections with their customers.”

Here are three examples worth paying attention to.

ChowNow Pro

Restaurants can use tech to make their online ordering more human and effortless. ChowNow Pro helps restaurants automate everything from ordering, ops, and marketing in one easy-to-use suite. This tech-assisted boost lets restaurants focus on the important stuff—like cooking food and serving customers—while everything runs smoothly in the background.

SoundHound’s Voice AI Platform

SoundHound’s generative AI seamlessly uploads and understands company information via your website. It then uses advanced speech recognition to give tailored, conversational responses to customers over the phone or through text messages.

CS by AI

With SoundHound’s new Smart Answering service, all restaurants on ChowNow can now use AI to answer customer questions over the phone or via text. SoundHound can provide info about menu items, operating hours, and handle multiple calls at once—allowing you to focus on food and your in-house diners.

SoundHound Webinar Intro Slide

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