QSR payment options: Yes, customers really DO care ... a lot

QSR payment options: Yes, customers really DO care ... a lot

By Marc Castrechini, Cayan vice president of product management

An Ohio State University study found that approximately 80 percent of restaurant brands fail in their first five years of existence. It's a fact of life in this business that most restaurateurs know all too well and have the bags under their sleep-deprived eyes to prove it. Put simply, this is not a viable career choice for those who don't really know their stuff. And today, a big part of knowing "your stuff" in the foodservice industry is also knowing what the data on dining preferences is saying at any point in time. This information gives restaurateurs the insights needed to create the best possible strategy going forward and ensure they live to serve another plate.

That's why Cayan conducted a national survey of 1,010 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 around this subject. The results have important implications for how restaurants should use payments to complement their dining experience and keep patrons satisfied.

We eat out ... a lot

The first thing that our survey found is that the frequency of dining out in 2018, is extremely high among all demographics. In the not-too-distant past, going out to eat was far more of an occasion, than what is often an everyday thing for many consumers today. The study responses show all age groups — including those coveted millennials —dine out regularly today.

More specifically, the survey found that about 75 percent  of respondents to our poll eat out at least once a week and almost half (47 percent ) eat out at least three times a week. And QSRs are hardly the only game in town anymore for such frequent dining, with everything from food trucks and delivery to fast-casual, casual attracting consumers' attention for a "quick bite." That has made the level of competition more more intense than ever. 

Diners really do care your payment offerings

The aforementioned level of competition in foodservice now has made it critical that brand leaders get very picky about just about every aspect of the dining process now. After all, if you don't give diners what they want there is a brand across the street that will.

As a result, customer experience has become nearly as important as the food itself. And as people have begun to go out for food more often, they have developed strong preferences in areas like payments.

For instance, more than half of respondents (58 percent) consider a restaurant's payment technology important. Almost a third of respondents (32 percent) said that they would reconsider where they dine based on the payment technology a brand offers. And nearly a third of respondents (32 percent) said that a payment problem has ruined a dining experience at least once. 

Top demands: speed and security 

Nearly two-thirds (61 percent ) of those polled said that they are most concerned with the security of their payments and their processing, which may come as no surprise given the sheer number of restaurant brand breaches to make national news. Naturally, your customers want the peace of mind that comes with secure data and conversely, a data breach can have a hugely deleterious effect on a brand, with financial ripples that can extend far into the future. 

For about a third of respondents (32 percent ), the speed of the transaction was named as most important in restaurant payments. Some diners have, for instance,  used newer technology like that which allows payment at the table.

That offering can drastically cut the length of transaction and checkout time. Though this type of payment has not yet become as widespread in the U.S. as it is in Europe, for instance, it holds a lot of promise for increased brand adoption given the results of our survey and diners escalating demands for speedier check-out. 

As for those millennials — the largest U.S. dining demographic — they are the single age group that most prefers pay-at-the-table technology, with nearly 72 percent preferring this form of restaurant payment. Millennials also place a higher value on speed than other demographic. In the Cayan survey, 47 percent of millennials said speed of transaction is the most important aspect of restaurant payments, while only 29 percent  of Gen X/Y said this and  20 percent  of boomers. About 69 percent of Generation X and Y would prefer to pay through pay-at-the-table technology, and 66 percent  of boomers would prefer it.

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Customer Service / Experience, Mobile Payments, Online / Mobile / Social, PCI Compliance, POS

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