Want to cuddle someone? There’s an app for that. Need to know what the ghosts around you are saying? Yes, there’s an app for that too.

As we enter an age where ‘there’s an app for that’ becomes a common addition to our vocabulary, it’s time for businesses to asses the benefits that investing in an app could bring. In this article, I’ll explore ways in which the hospitality industry – in particular restaurants and bars – could utilise an app in more ways than one.

Improving customer experience with an app

Call us lacking in patience, but as consumers we want, and expect, ease. If a user journey is clunky and the required information can’t be found quickly then you’ve got yourself a problem. If a competitor can offer a similar service and provide great customer experience, your potential customer is much more likely to go with the competition.

So whilst having a well-designed website is one thing, designing an app that meets your customer’s needs at their fingertips, can give you that all important edge. An app can offer a multitude of things to delight users, which we’ll take a look at below. Delighted users + great service =👍💷  In addition, it’s worth bearing in mind that having an app means your logo is on a user’s screen each time they use use their phone, which according to research by Dscout is a whopping average of 76 times per day.

What can an app offer customers?

  • Showcase Menus

A recent survey by Statista revealed that 55{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} of diners use restaurant mobile apps to view menus and pricing. Allowing customers to easily view a menu before they book or visit goes someway towards creating that great customer experience. A well-designed menu on your app could just be a deal-breaker to clinch that booking.

  • Enable Bookings

Between 2013 and 2016, the number of people not making any voice calls in a given week increased from 4{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} to more than 30{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0}. We’re becoming more and more call-shy. Whilst personally I’m an advocate for getting people to talk to each other more, I’ll be honest, even I semi-dread calling a bar or restaurant for fear of having to engage in an awkward conversation over how to spell my name (my name’s Olwen, it’s a real struggle), when I could book via a few taps on a phone. People seem to be in agreement, with 23.8{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} of diners using apps to make reservations.

  • Answer FAQs

How much of your staff’s time is taken up answering telephone or email questions? Putting answers on an app to queries regarding opening hours, dress codes, location, age policies etc. can be a real time-saver that lets your staff get on with doing what they’re good at. Hopefully that’s whipping up a mean espresso martini.

  • Give Rewards and Offers

An app is (or should be) beneficial to the user, but it’s also a great tool for marketing. If a user views your website, they’re probably interested but you can only keep their interest with remarketing or trying to encourage them to sign up to a newsletter. If they’ve downloaded your app, they’re definitely interested. Now’s your chance to offer them tailored offers and loyalty schemes to keep them coming back. Using push notifications can be a great way to tailor marketing.

If a customer is in your vicinity, you can send them a message. If you’re having a slump in bookings, ping them an offer to incentivise them to book. 40{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} of first time visitors will come back if you’ve provided a good service and there’s a reason for them to come back. Second time visitors are 50{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} more likely to come back a third time if they’ve gained real value from their experience. If people are downloading your app after just a one-time visit, make it your mission to get them to the the third-time goal.

  • Allow Mobile Payments and Billing

Picture the scene, if you will. It’s the end of the meal and time to pay. Jan’s not happy because she didn’t have a starter but is being asked to split the bill. Dave hasn’t got any cash and needs to run down the road to the nearest ATM. There are 4 phone calculators on the table. It’s a nightmare for them, and for your staff. Integrating mobile payments into an app reduces friction and allows your customers to use payment technology such as ApplePay and PayPal. Smiles all round.

What can an app offer staff?

Having a B2C app is quite commonplace, but have you considered how an app could benefit your business’ workforce? Let’s call it B2S (Business to staff).

It’s pretty obvious that the better communication within an organisation, the better the productivity. This is notoriously more difficult the bigger the organisation, but smaller businesses can fall into the trap that thinking just because there’s a handful of employees, communication isn’t an issue. However that’s not always the case. With differing shift patterns, changes in staff and seemingly only 70{2dccc6f52880b37d2d746d3abc02a4b8b9b58e2d7071b0dd811a90f113bde9b0} of people now making voice calls, managing effective communication is important. Apps like Slack and Workplace by Facebook have been set-up to try and alleviate this problem; providing mobile workspaces for staff to communicate. There are apps out there to help with tasks like stock checks and managing rotas, but having a custom app could help you roll all your task and communication needs into one, including:

  • Team messages and notifications
  • Business updates
  • Online training
  • Rotas

It’s clear that there are many benefits to having an app if you’re a restaurant or bar business – not just for your customers, but also for your staff and for your marketing efforts.

Having an app that caters for the current and future trends and needs of the customer is crucial for showing the strength of your business and your determination to provide exemplary customer experience.  Want to know more about custom apps? We’re your chapps. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).