A recent rant on Craig's list by a popular New York City restaurant illustrates the dramatic way consumer's are changing.
The story starts with a restaurant that noticed an increase in customer complaints on review sites related to slow service and long table wait times. A consulting group was called in that quickly blamed the wait and kitchen staff for slow service and inefficiency.
Luckily, the same restaurant had some video surveillance footage from July 2004. They then compared the footage to digital video taken in July 2014. The date selected for comparison had roughly the same number of customers (45) to keep comparisons simple.
Behavior of Restaurant Customers in 2004:
Customers walk in and are seated with menus. 3 request a new table.
Customers order in 8 minutes.
Appetizers are served in 6 minutes.
Waiters are attentive and professional.
Customers leave 5 minutes after receiving check.
Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Behavior of Restaurant Customers in 2014:
18 of 45 customers request new table.
Phones come out before menus are opened.
7 of 45 customers showed waiters something on phone waisting 5 minutes of waiters time (asked about WiFi service in restaurant)
Waiters visited table, but customers had not opened menu yet, busy with phones
Waiters return a second time asking for order, customers ask for more time.
Time to order: 21 minutes
Food starts to be delivered in 6 minutes, same as 2004
Customers spend 3 minutes taking pics of food
14 of 45 customers take pics of food and each other
9 of 45 customers need food reheated, since it gets cold during pic taking
Customers get busy with phones after eating
20 minutes pass before check is requested when compared to 2004
Once check is delivered it takes 15 minutes longer for them to pay and leave due to focus on phones
Start to Finish Times:
2004: 1 hour 5 minutes
2014: 1 hour 55 minutes
Lessons Learned for Restaurant Marketers:
- Mobile is changing behavior in unexpected ways.
- While lingering customers are a problem, it can also be an opportunity.
- Longer customer occasions introduce opportunities for new menu food and drink items; before the order is placed, and after the check is presented
- Realities of customer behavior may have new solutions. The restaurant could provide menus before customers are seated, and ask for orders earlier.
- Picture taking opens up opportunities for "from table" social media. Are food items presented in a "picture worthy" way?