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HungerRush Data Shows Majority of Diners Believe the Restaurant Customer Experience is Declining Due to the Ongoing Labor Shortage

Restaurant industry continues to grapple with labor shortages and the direct impact on increased wait times, order accuracy, and overstrained staff

HungerRush, the leading cloud software provider for the restaurant industry, today announced new results from a consumer survey examining the impact of the ongoing labor shortages within the industry and how it is impacting the customer experience. The survey results indicate that a majority of diners are accrediting a diminishing customer experience to labor shortages which lead to increased wait times, order inaccuracies, and stressed-out employees.

As consumers are returning to restaurants, they are feeling the strain of labor shortages across all types of establishments, some more than others. The majority of consumers (51%), feel that independent restaurants have been impacted the most by not having enough staff to take orders, cook food, and handle deliveries – followed by major chains (36%) and mid-sized regional restaurants (14%). 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.

These points directly relate to the roles in which consumers felt were the most understaffed, those included servers, counter staff (including drive-thru, phone, and cashiers), and cooks. Creating an experience customers enjoy is crucial for restaurants, as 39% of people are likely to write a negative review after visiting a restaurant suffering from staffing issues, long wait times, and order inaccuracy. As restaurants strive to offer the most seamless and connected experience for guests, it’s important to understand the friction points felt by customers throughout their journey. If restaurants aren’t quick to adapt changes to these issues, it will result in diminished experiences for the customer and decreases in brand loyalty.

Understanding specific engagement points where staffing shortages hit the hardest

With so many restaurants to pick from, it’s essential that restaurants create a personalized and streamlined experience at every touchpoint in the customer journey. The first area in which restaurants should look to address is the ordering stage, as 91% of consumers surveyed said the maximum amount of time they are willing to wait on hold to place an order is 3 minutes or less. 25% and 19% expect to place an order in less than 2 minutes and 1 minute respectively, demonstrating just how critical speed to order is to today’s consumers.

Another area where owners and operators need to focus on is the overall environment of the restaurant. When customers call a restaurant to place an order and can tell based on loud background noise that it is hectic, it impacts their overall experience. 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. Moreover, 19% of consumers actively avoid making any order modifications if they can tell a restaurant is busy in the background. This means consumers aren’t really getting the experience they want at the end of the day. Knowing what frustrations customers are feeling allows operators and owners to better prepare a solution to address this to keep them coming back. Utilizing tools such as technology to adapt their models and decrease or eliminate wait times and improve order accuracy can help during these tough times. In fact, 72% of consumers said they would opt to use an automated phone bot to place an order depending on the situation.

Tapping tech to improve engagement points and address seasonal shift changes

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. Seasonal hiring needs to be top of mind for owners, who need to ensure seamless onboarding and training are in place so that consumers don’t feel the impact of new and untrained staff. With intuitive and streamlined technology like POS and ordering systems in place, restaurants can speed up the time to train. Turning to tech is a winning solution that can alleviate these three pain points and also save restaurants time and money.

“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,” said Olivier Thierry, CRO of HungerRush. “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.”