Group of friends at a restaurant on their cellphones

Tech Expectations: What the New Generation of Diners Want

If you’re a restaurant owner today, you’ll need to keep a steady eye on millennials and their data addictions. This is now the largest consumer group in the United States, and many of them were in grade school when Google first appeared. It’s a natural instinct for them to reach for technology to solve their immediate problems—like finding a place to eat.

As you look ahead to 2017 and beyond, here are three questions to ask yourself to gauge how well you are handling your customers’ tech expectations:  

Are you appearing in their daily feeds?

In a 2016 article in Biz Tech Magazine, Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association, said that roughly a third of consumers factor in information they find on social media when choosing a restaurant. “And that number rises to more than half among millennials,” she says, “so it can be a powerful tool for restaurant marketing, customer service and engagement.”

According to that same NRA data, in 2016 nearly two in five restaurant operators were planning on increasing their social media resources as a result. Research published in the Q3 2016 Sprout Social Index backs up this absolute need for restaurants to be online: 75% of people in their survey purchased a product because they saw it on social media. What should you be doing online? Be where your customers are, using platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share photos, specials and updates—and using email marketing to build an ongoing connection.

Is your website mobile-friendly?

If not, you may be losing a vast swath of potential diners. According to Technomic’s 2017 Driving Digital Engagement presentation reviewed by Restaurant Business earlier this year, 44% of customers want restaurant websites to be mobile-friendly. Maybe they got pulled there by your wonderful Instagramming—what do they do next? Google you. If your restaurant is not easy to view, you could lose them in an instant. Make sure you explain your unique selling point as soon as they land on your site, in fonts that are clearly visible on a handheld screen and with easy to access contact information. Check out our post for more tips on mobile-optimizing your restaurant.

Are you simplifying your customers’ lives?

Today’s restaurant customers want to get their food with the minimum amount of friction possible. They want to avoid long waits (in line or at the table); they want to customize their orders the way they like them best (and not have to tell you a hundred times); and they want to be able to pay with whatever method they prefer, whether that’s cash, credit card, or a mobile payment option. As you focus on meeting your customers’ needs, look for technology options that are flexible enough to change with the times, enabling you to process new payment methods without adding additional equipment; and focus on mobile tools that help customers place orders and pay on the spot.

In order to please millennial diners, you need to make sure your process fits with their daily lives—use technology to enhance and streamline your offerings, and you’ll build a base of loyal new customers effortlessly.

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