4 tips to make your restaurant app more personal

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I design better online ordering platforms and mobile apps for restaurant brands.

Honestly, I can’t think of a better place to have been during the pandemic. It’s an unfortunate time in general, but professionally speaking, the food tech industry has seen tremendous growth in response to the pandemic.

People are suddenly asking for services to embrace trends like curbside pickup, contactless delivery, and order kiosks. And as the pandemic continues (and continues), more and more people continue to feel more comfortable with their relationship between ordering food and mobile technology. The demand for these apps and websites keeps growing.

The data we are acquiring shows that the adoption trend is going nowhere and that mobile orders will continue to grow even after the pandemic is over. So many people have jumped on the bandwagon and learned to interact with their favorite brands in new ways. They use branded mobile apps and loyalty programs for free stuff. It’s all become so popular that it’s hard to even imagine a world where consumers wouldn’t continue to use these tools five years from now or beyond.

Let’s face it: we are entering the third year of the pandemic here. The tools that allow us to cross are no longer patchworked. They’re just business as usual. Honestly, going back to a long line just to place an order in person would be weirder than browsing a new restaurant mobile app or locating an order in a pickup shelf for the first time.

So, in my UX-driven world, that means it’s time to hone this long-term craft and focus on improving these tools and the user experiences they facilitate. Lately, it’s been an effort to expand personalization.

The data is clear: people prefer personalized experiences. They want “their” brands to know them, understand why they are there, and create useful and timely experiences in their apps and websites.

These very experiences are why 20% of users say the branded mobile app is their preferred way to order for pickup because the app remembers them, their previous orders, credit card numbers, their nearest store, etc.

So where to start in practice, for all of you savvy restaurateurs, UX designers, and digital scientists, who continue to fully embark your brand on the tech train?

Four important tips for personalization come to mind:

remember my name

The first time I open your application, you need to collect some personal information from me. Ask me for my name, email address and date of birth. So use this information! It may sound basic, but people respond well to seeing and hearing their name. As Dale Carnegie points out in this old classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, “a person’s name is for that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Do you want to build loyalty? Wish me a happy birthday and shoot me an extra special gift.

Remember my order

Here’s a fun fact about restaurant apps: people have this (probably illegal) habit of launching them when they get in the car. This is exactly why one-touch rearrange is such user-friendly customization. Because not only do you remember my name, but you also remember what I like to order. You remember my payment information. You can re-offer everything to me and seal the payment deal with just a touch or two, on the go. When I take the extra time to customize a complicated and unique order for me, I really don’t want to have to start the building process over again the next time I have a craving.

give me what i like

While we’re talking about you knowing what I like to order, why not use that information to prompt future action? After all, if you’re looking to generate additional business with a coupon, the success of the offer is entirely dependent on my willingness to accept you. So, make sure the free chicken sandwich coupons go to people who love chicken sandwiches, not burger lovers. And make sure burger lovers get a burger coupon too! With a little dynamic personalization, we can ensure we retain more customers and drive more incremental visits by knowing what our employees like and giving it to them.

show me more

If you know what I like and what others like, you can give me recommendations based on others like me. This is where the rubber really hits the road when it comes to customization. Not only can you get me in the door with my order, but you can also show me what others like me have discovered, whether it’s extra pickles, or a specific sauce that the demographic likes, or maybe Be that it’s that little add-on to a chocolate shake that goes so well with a dipped fry.

Here’s the kicker: people feel a lot less shame about increasing or adding when interacting with an app or kiosk than in person. They’re much more willing to add a little extra or try a little more when they’re free from the judgment of others, and digital ordering tools offer anonymity and privacy. So use the information you have and give your employees all those little extras they secretly need.

If your new app can embed these four basic personalization goals into its DNA, your users will love your brand and come back for more.

Kayvan Sotoodeh, VP of User Experience and Design at Tillster, is an award-winning creative director and educator with a diverse background in media. Prior to joining the Tillster team, Kayvan previously worked for a number of global design teams including StubHub, Microsoft, Yahoo and Disney. He holds a master’s degree in interactive telecommunications from NYU and a bachelor’s degree in communication design from Parsons School of Design.


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