Connectivity Puts the ‘Connect’ in Customer ‘Connections’

The last couple of years have proven that digital experiences will continue to play a central role for quick-service restaurant (QSR) operators. Luckily, QSRs have no shortage of technologies at their disposal to help them achieve the sort of customer personalization that drives profits. 

But whether it’s mobile apps, kiosks, tablet-wielding employees, or AI and ML tools, they all rely on QSRs having a sound network infrastructure in place. Here are some examples of how connectivity technologies are helping QSR brands, like Dunkin’, connect with customers and redefine the dining experience. 

Easing Customer and Employee Friction

Whether it's personalizing the drive-through experience or reliably managing store hours, a strong network can power the restaurant management tools and apps that QSRs need to streamline front- and back-of-house operations, enhance dining experiences, and keep guests happy. 

For instance, savvy QSRs like Dunkin’ are upgrading their network operations center to improve connectivity for new digital assets, like Dunkin’s recently released mobile app. The app is a vital tool for customers and employees. It allows individual Dunkin’ stores to update their own hours and available menu items in real-time. Once updated, the app automatically communicates the information to Dunkin’s customer-facing mobile app, delivery partners, and online platforms, minimizing the likelihood that guests will be caught off guard by a closed store or unavailable item. 

Enabling Flexible Ordering

Flexible ordering has become an expectation for restaurant customers – from fine dining to quick service. In fact, a recent study found that compared to 2019, 36 percent of customers are using mobile apps to order ahead more often, 32 percent are ordering from restaurant websites more often, and 28 percent are using food delivery aggregators, like DoorDash, more often.

For example, new digital-only stores from Dunkin’ are replacing traditional counters with drive-thru lanes and advanced in-store technology to match customer expectations. These locations only accept orders through mobile ordering or digital kiosks. Customers pay through these methods as well and can get their orders through contactless pickup in the shop. Those who ordered online can find their names on a digital sign in-store, and even check their order’s status to eliminate the anxiety that often comes with mobile ordering. These flexible methods of ordering emphasize speed and convenience to serve guests quickly.

Reimagining the Drive-Thru Experience 

The reason customers choose QSRs is in the name: they’re quick. Offering multiple ways to order – from kiosks to loyalty apps to tablets – is essential to minimizing customers’ wait times. But when lines do back up, innovative brands are implementing “line busting” tactics to quickly fulfill orders and keep customers satisfied. Many Dunkin’ locations are ringing up drive-thru orders on tablets or mobile registers so orders are ready and waiting by the time a guest reaches the pick-up window, while other locations are implementing separate mobile order pickup lanes in drive-throughs to make the experience even faster for both customers and employees.

These line-busting tactics rely on POS appliances that require strong connectivity in order to be effective. For Dunkin’, that meant working closely with Comcast Business to install several external access points around the buildings to ensure that employees outside had network access to take orders. 

Looking Ahead to the Future

QSRs are growing in popularity, in part because of their convenience and value. Technology is a major driver in the growth of QSRs. To keep up with changing consumer behavior and maintain customer satisfaction, QSR operators must embrace enhanced connectivity. WiFi and broadband are catalysts for digitization, enabling faster checkouts, reducing congestion, and improving back-end operations.

Having the right network infrastructure in place to handle increasing bandwidth and data management needs will enable QSRs to address the customer demands of speed, convenience, and value in an increasingly competitive market.

As new and exciting trends in the QSR space become the new normal, QSRs need to focus on their networks and connectivity to ensure they are prepared for what’s next.