Running a successful and profitable quick service restaurant (QSR) can be difficult, especially in the U.S.’s crowded fast-food market. According to Statista, there are over 190,000 fast-food restaurants in the US — and counting. To run a successful QSR, customers need to continuously return to a restaurant with their friends and family. To grow revenue, a QSR needs to do more than serve a delicious meal. Nowadays, customers can access delicious meals from anywhere.
To stand out from the competition, consider how your restaurant’s physical environment influences the QSR customer experience. By enhancing the look and feel of your restaurant, you can increase the comfort your customers feel in your restaurant, attract new customers and increase your bottom line. When your restaurant stands out in your customers’ minds as providing a good experience, you can naturally outcompete other quick service restaurants.
First, what are all of the factors that influence QSR customer experience? In this article, we’ll explain these factors and share tips on how to offer the best QSR customer services.
Read the full article or jump to a specific section:
- What Impacts Your QSR Customer Experience?
- How to Improve Customer Service at Your Quick Service Restaurant
- Top 11 Ways to Improve Your Overall QSR Experience
- Let USA SHADE Enhance Your QSR Experience
What Impacts Your QSR Customer Experience?
The quality of your food isn’t the only factor in whether your customers will leave to never return or become raving fans of your restaurant, leaving glowing reviews and recommending you to friends and family. There are other factors that determine customer experience in your restaurant.
Below, we share nine factors that impact your QSR customer experience and exactly how they influence the way your customers experience your business. As you’ll see, they include employee-related factors, customer-related factors, and operations-related factors.
- The quality of your food: Above everything else, your customers come to your restaurant to satisfy their hunger and expect you to offer delicious meals. The quality of your food determines if your customers will come back to buy from you again or switch to a competing QSR down the road.
- The quality of customer service: How your employees serve your customers influences their experience in your QSR. Customer service can leave a lasting impression, and often determines if customers come back to buy again or search for a business with friendlier or more attentive customer service. After a positive customer experience, 89% of customers are more likely to make another purchase. After a poor customer service experience, 58% of customers will switch companies.
- The healthiness of your food: Especially in the past year, many customers have grown more concerned about hygiene and the healthiness of what they eat. Customers now consider the hygiene of your QSR’s cooking process in evaluating the overall quality of your service. They will look out for restaurants that comply with health rules and follow hygienic practices to make and distribute their food. In many cases, the level of satisfaction they get out of your QSR experience will correlate with how hygienic they think your restaurant is.
- Employee knowledge and training: Your employees are only as good as you train them. How much you invest in educating your employees affects the quality of services they render to your customers. Your employees require a strong understanding of your business, your customers, your industry, and your values in order to provide the best possible experience for your customers.
- Employee satisfaction and engagement: Your employees’ level of personal investment in your business will influence how well they serve your customers. For example, happy employees will treat customers with friendliness and fulfill all of their requests, resulting in happy customers that grow your business via reviews and word-of-mouth. On the other hand, unhappy employees can render poor-quality services that can turn customers away and give your business a bad reputation.
- Ease of placing orders: How easily your customers can place their orders can be the differentiating factor between a positive and negative experience. For example, even though you serve the best sandwich in the city, waiting in a long queue for hours to place an order can reduce your customers’ satisfaction with your meal and service. On the other hand, your customers will leave satisfied if their order was hassle-free.
- Speed of delivery: How fast you deliver your customers’ orders influences their satisfaction with your QSR. If customers have to wait too long, they may drive to another fast-food restaurant and never come back to your restaurant. On the flip side, if they can breeze in and out of your QSR, you could become their next go-to.
- Ease of payment: How fast and convenient your customers can make payments can be the icing on the cake of your restaurant services. The overall goal is to have a simple ordering process that gets your customers’ food into their hands promptly.
- Your QSR environment: The comfort and convenience your customer can enjoy in your restaurant can be the difference between customers who are willing to wait patiently for their orders and customers who walk off and leave a bad review. For example, if your restaurant has shade structures your customers can wait and park under, they may be more willing to wait for orders that take a longer time to prepare.
Each of these critical factors influences customer experience in your restaurant and, ultimately, your business revenue. Now that you know the factors that influence the quality of service at your QSR, what can you do to improve them?
How to Improve Customer Service at Your Quick Service Restaurant
Here, we share five ways to improve customer service at your quick service restaurant. As you’ll discover, even though some of the strategies below may not have a clear metric, their effects can have a clear impact on your bottom line.
Serve the best meal in town: First, ensure your food meets and surpasses your customers’ expectations. Hire experienced kitchen staff and use quality ingredients to prepare your meal. When your product is undeniably good, customer demand will soon follow.
Make it easy to place orders: Reduce the long, disorganized lines and help your customers avoid waiting for long to place their orders. You can introduce multiple counters to reduce how long your customers have to wait during rush hours. Ensuring your menu is legible and visible can also help your customers make faster purchase decisions.
Reduce your customers’ wait time: Overly long waits can ruin your customers’ satisfaction. Streamline your customer wait time to the barest minimum. Between restaurants of competing quality and pricing, the differentiating factor could be the speed of ordering. Convenience is king, and customers always want their orders delivered faster. You can use mobile apps that enable your customers to place their orders before coming to your restaurant. This process helps busy customers escape a frustrating line during lunch hour.
Optimize your QSR environment: You can minimize the negative effect of long waits by making your restaurant pleasant and comforting for your customers. You can incorporate restaurant shade structures over parking spaces, queue lines, and outdoor dining areas to keep your customers cool during hot weather. This thoughtfulness can go a long way in reducing customer complaints. In conjunction with cooler spaces, introducing free WiFi to keep your customers busy while waiting is a great way to improve the experience.
Personalize your services: If a business focuses on take-out meal options, add a personal and emotional touch to your interactions with your customers. Encourage your employees to portray warmth in their communication with your customers so they can feel relaxed and trust your business. To take this further, your employees can address your customers — especially regular customers — by their names.
These tips can help you improve your QSR customer service. But beyond customer service, how do you improve your customers’ overall QSR experience?
Top 11 Ways to Improve Your Overall QSR Experience
Here are 11 actionable strategies you can start implementing today to create an exceptional QSR experience. Customer experience involves your customers’ overall impression of your brand and their eagerness to come back. By providing an excellent customer experience, you can convince your customers to choose your restaurant over your competitor’s and refer you to their friends and family.
Offering an excellent customer experience includes interactions with employees. Your employees’ engagement and connection with your business will also play a major role in your overall QSR experience.
Invest in training your employees: Happy and well-equipped employees produce happy and satisfied customers. Your employees are only as good as you prepare them to be, so spend the time and resources to train your employees on how to provide excellent services to your customers and keep up with the latest QSR trends and expectations. It’s best for your staff to have good knowledge about the food you serve and how you prepare it to help answer any questions your customers might ask.
Set clear expectations: Let your employees and staff know the mission of your business and where you stand with customer satisfaction. Introduce regular team meetings to discuss events and plans and evaluate your employees’ performance and customer satisfaction levels to make the necessary improvements.
Constantly communicate and connect with your employees: How connected and important your employees feel directly affects their emotional connection to your business. And their level of emotional connection to your business determines their readiness to help your business offer stand-out services to your customers. Establish constant communication with your employees, request feedback, and ensure your employees feel heard, protected, and understood.
Promote executive-customer interactions: Get your managers to interact with customers and gather feedback on their experience with your services. This level of interaction can make your customers feel valued and respected. It can also provide top-level executives with first-hand information on your customer experience.
Introduce a reward program: A reward program can incentivize your regular customers to buy more from your restaurant. One easy way to introduce a reward program is to create a mobile application for your customers to participate in and easily track their rewards with.
Set up a fun and inviting environment: Investing in building shade structures for your QSR can improve your customers’ experience in your restaurant. This feature can make your QSR a comfortable place for your existing and new customers to hang out at any time of the day. The more your customers can hang out in your restaurant, the more they’ll buy from you.
Offer a five-sense experience: Don’t just sell food that excites your customers’ noses and taste buds — engage their sense of sight and sound as well. A pleasant visual appearance and music can help your customers remember their experience at your restaurant and form a positive impression of it.
Be fun and entertaining: Don’t just exchange food for money with your customers. Rather, try to make your services entertaining and memorable. One way you can do this is to personalize how you prepare food, how you interact with your customers, and even how you present and package the food to your customers.
Be empathic and emotional: Your customers are not just sales numbers — they’re human beings that want to feel loved, valued, respected, and wanted. To boost your QSR experience, do more than other restaurants do. Do not just serve your customers. Rather, offer them notable experiences and let them feel they’re more than just customers on a queue. A great way to show this humanistic side is to receive complaints with concern and a sense of readiness to solve your customers’ problems.
Ensure clear communication with your customer: Always keep your customers informed on how long they need to wait to get their orders. This assurance builds anticipation and clarity about how long they have to wait. Knowing when to expect their meals gives purpose to customers’ wait and reduces anxiousness.
Prioritize health and hygiene: Ensure you maintain a clean and hygienic environment, operate a clean kitchen, and communicate these practices to your customers. This reassurance gives your customers confidence in the healthiness of what they’re choosing and builds their trust in your restaurant. If your restaurant has a restroom, make sure it is always clean. The nature of your restroom can rub off on your customers’ impression of your business.
These 11 QSR customer experience improvement tips can help you take your restaurant to new heights. By paying attention to all the factors that affect QSR experience, you can stand out amongst QSR restaurants and become your customers’ go-to spot for lunchtime.
Let USA SHADE Enhance Your QSR Experience
To stay competitive, your QSR must offer more than great food. You must also offer an overall positive experience that will make your customers return to your restaurant with their friends and family. USA SHADE offers high-quality structures that can both be a fun place for your customer to hang out and also attract new customers to your quick service restaurant.
USA SHADE is the leader in fabric structure design and technology, with over 30 years of experience helping restaurants and other businesses design and install quality shade structures. We work with you to bring your design vision to fruition and create a lasting partnership, handling everything from the design concept to the installation of your commercial shade structure. Request a quote from USA SHADE or browse shade structure options for quick-service restaurants today.