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Emerging Experiences: Where Tech Meets Taste

Emerging Experiences: Where Tech Meets Taste

From Consumer Trend Reports to the Annual Drive-Thru Study, Intouch Insight has been a trusted source of customer experience data for years. Now, in 2023, we're launching a new annual report - Emerging Experiences. You can download the full report here, or keep reading for a brief overview.

In this new series, we will examine some of the most impactful trends shaping customer experiences today. For the inaugural study, Where Tech Meets Taste, we explore how fast casual chains are adapting their operations to capitalize on the continued growth in digital ordering.

Intouch Insight conducted 800 mystery shops across 10 prominent restaurant chains, including:

  • Chipotle
  • Panera
  • Shake Shack
  • Jersey Mike's
  • Five Guys
  • Panda Express
  • Noodles & Co.
  • McAlister's Deli
  • Chicken Salad Chick

The full report covers current performance across these brands, what had the most significant impact on guest satisfaction, and where is the biggest opportunity for improvement. Here we'll give an overview of:

  1. The Ordering Experience
  2. The Pickup Experience
  3. The Overall Experience

The Ordering Experience

The popularity of digital ordering has surged over the past few years, but this trend goes back even further. From 2015 to 2020, users of food-ordering apps grew by nearly 70%. Today, according to Zippia, digital orders account for roughly 40% of total restaurant sales.

At this stage, consumers’ needs are simple. They want to be able to:

  • Find the items they’re looking for
  • Add them to their cart
  • Make any modifications they require

Here we found the ability to add items to the users cart had the biggest impact. Satisfaction with the ordering experience was 61% higher when it was easy to add an item to the shoppers cart. However, only 4 of the 10 brands scored 100% in this category. They were Chipotle, Five Guys, Panda Express, and Jersey Mike’s.

The Pickup Experience

While brands have worked to refine their digital ordering experience, the focus has been on orders for delivery. But, in a recent survey of over 2000 North American consumers, 87% of reported having placed an order for pickup.

In measuring the pickup experience, we found three factors had the biggest impact:

  • Was interacting with restaurant staff built into the pickup process?
  • Was there signage indicating where customers could pick up their orders?
  • Was there a designated pickup area?

Here, we found clear signage narrowly edged out employee interactions as having the biggest impact. Satisfaction with the pickup experience was 12% higher when there was clear signage and 11% higher when interacting with staff was part of the pickup process.

Despite this, 6 of the 10 brands we visited only had clear signage 50% of the time or less. The top performing brands when it came to signage were Shake Shack, Fives Guys, and Noodles & Co..

The Overall Experience

When it comes to customer retention, the overall experience is what matters most. We found that customers who were satisfied with their ordering experience reported 32% higher satisfaction with their overall experience. And customers who were satisfied with their pickup experience reported 34% higher satisfaction with their overall experience.

Across the board brands performed better with their ordering experience. On average, satisfaction with the ordering experience is 12% higher than the pickup experience. This means that by optimizing their pickup experience brands will see the greatest improvement in overall experience.

Learn which factor across each stage had the biggest impact on overall satisfaction in the full report. Download your free copy today via the button.


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