Have restaurant customers changed because of smart phones?

Any observer of changes in the way customer service operates globally will know that what has really changed is the way people communicate. My last blog talked about the social changes introduced by the smart phone with ubiquitous Internet access and the use of social networks. Both developments have been reshaping customer needs for the past five or six years.

But changes sometimes happens too slowly for us to easily observe so I was interested to see this article about how people are spending more time over dinner in restaurants. It is claimed that this was a serious piece of research by a restaurant owner in New York who has spent the past decade recording service times in his or her restaurant – however the author of the research posted the information online anonymously, perhaps fearing that it would sound critical of the customers a restaurant needs.

The research shows that the average diner in 2004 took 1hr and 5mins and in 2014 this average had almost doubled to 1hr 55mins. The reason? The author of the research blames smart phone use. Customers take photos of the décor, of the food, they communicate with people on the phone, they take up staff time calling for help with the wi-fi connection… the use of phones in restaurants has been an enormous change in social behaviour in the past decade and this has actually influenced the time people now need to eat dinner.

When planning customer service strategies we need to think of how changing behaviours can impact existing services. New channels can develop new freedoms and ease of communication, but can have a knock-on effect on other areas of the business.



Photo by Pete Zarria licensed under Creative Commons

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