Restaurant diners are blaming a diminishing customer experience on labor shortages which, in turn, lead to increased wait times, order inaccuracies and stressed-out employees. That was the finding of a consumer survey from cloud software provider HungerRush, according to a press release.
The survey was conducted in May 2023 of 1,000 U.S. consumers 18 years and older to understand how the labor shortage is impacting restaurants of various sizes and the customer experience.
The majority of consumers (51%) feel that independent restaurants have been impacted the most by not having enough staff to take orders, prepare food and handle deliveries. Major chains (36%) and mid-sized regional restaurants (14%) weigh in after independents. With these shortages, friction points are increasing in the dining experience with longer wait times to receive food (33%), diminished customer experience due to overstressed staff (32%) and longer wait times just to place an order (17%) being among the top three pain points.
Consumers feel servers, counter staff and cook roles are the most understaffed.
With so much competition from other restaurants, it’s essential that brands create a personalized and streamlined experience at every touchpoint in the customer journey. In the ordering stage, 91% of consumers surveyed said the maximum amount of time they are willing to wait on hold to place an order is three minutes or less. Twenty-five percent and 19% expect to place an order in less than two minutes and one minute respectively, illustrating just how critical speed to order is to today’s consumers.
The environment of the restaurant also plays a role in a customer’s experience. For instance, when a customer calls a restaurant to place and order and the background noise is loud, he or she feels the restaurant environment is hectic. As such, 57% of consumers aren’t confident that a busy store will actually take their order correctly if they need to personalize or modify regular menu items. Some 19% of consumers avoid making any order modifications if they can tell a restaurant is busy in the background. In these instances, 72% of consumers say they would opt to use an automated phone bot to place an order.
Almost all restaurants undergo periods of seasonal hiring shifts and turnover and this is especially true during shortages. The ebb and flow of seasonal staffing also creates more points of friction in the consumer experience when increased order inaccuracy (28%), longer times to order food (24%), and loss of personal connection with seasonal staff (12%) are felt most by consumers.
“There is no shortage of restaurants to choose from for consumers, which makes it essential that restaurants are creating personalized, streamlined, and connected experiences at every touch point,” Olivier Thierry, CRO of HungerRush, said in the press release. “Restaurant owners and operators have to understand where customers are feeling disengaged and how they can work to ensure their overall experience with the restaurant is a positive one or else it will impact their brand loyalty. When restaurants embrace technology to empower their staff, many common areas of complaints from customers can be resolved or eliminated completely.”