Is restaurant table service a thing of the past?

HomeNewsIs restaurant table service a thing of the past?

Executive Summary

Why has the restaurant model changed ?
What do customers want?
Building an Omnichannel restaurant 

The restaurant service model is evolving

No one ever remembers great food with average service but we always remember great service even when we receive average food, it’s the human touch, the one thing that allows the hospitality industry to differentiate from the other service industries. 

Hospitality plays a part in people’s everyday lives, but has the service model changed forever?

While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some changes in the way restaurants operate, such as increased emphasis on takeout and delivery, many restaurants still offer table service. In fact, as the pandemic situation improved and restrictions eased, more and more restaurants have returned to normal operations, including offering table service.

However, it is worth noting that the pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of technology in the restaurant industry, including digital ordering and payment systems. This has led some restaurants to adopt new models of service, such as fast-casual or counter-service, which may not involve traditional table service. So while table service is still very much alive, it is possible that we may see new models of service emerge in the coming years.

What do customers want?

Customer preferences vary widely when it comes to restaurant service. Some customers may prefer traditional table service because it offers a more personalised and attentive experience, while others may prefer the convenience and speed of self-service options.

A 2021 survey by the National Restaurant Association found that:

  1. 71% of consumers prefer full-service restaurants for special occasions
  2. 64% prefer quick-service restaurants for convenience
  3. 70% of consumers prefer to pay for their meals at the table
  4. 22% prefer to pay using a mobile app.

Overall, it seems that customers appreciate having a range of service options available to them, depending on their needs and preferences. While some may prefer traditional table service, others may prefer self-service options, or a combination of both. 

Building an Omnichannel restaurant 

The key for restaurants is to offer a range of service models and options that can accommodate different customer preferences and needs.This in effect means you need to build an omnichannel offering, omnichannel meaning that your customers can interact with you in different ways, such as at the table or from their phone at home for example.

Here are some key steps to building an restaurant model that will allow your customers to interact with your restaurant business, whether they are in the restaurant, driving past or at home:

  1. Understand your customers:  understand your customers’ preferences, behaviors, and needs across different channels. This involves gathering customer data, conducting surveys, and analysing customer interactions across different touchpoints.
  2. Define your omnichannel strategy: Based on customer insights, define an omnichannel strategy that aligns with your business objectives and addresses customer needs. This includes identifying the channels to use, defining the customer journey, and mapping out the touchpoints.
  3. Invest in technology: To build an effective omnichannel business, you need the right technology tools to manage customer data, automate processes, and integrate different channels. This may include CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, and customer engagement tools.
  4. Train your team: Building an omnichannel business requires a company-wide commitment to delivering a consistent and seamless customer experience across all channels. Ensure that your staff is trained to deliver excellent customer service, and that they have the tools and resources they need to provide a personalised experience across channels.
  5. Measure and optimise: Measure the success of your omnichannel strategy by tracking key metrics such as customer engagement, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction. Use these insights to optimise your strategy and continuously improve the customer experience.

Building an omnichannel business takes time and effort, but the payoff is a seamless, personalised customer experience that drives loyalty and increases revenue and if we can do that then table service will never be a thing of the past in fact it will be part of the future restaurant service models.

Discover the restaurant management technology toolkit you need to succeed:

Further resources: Loyal restaurant guests matter more than ever – 5 ways you can encourage them

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