The cracks caused by staff shortages are really beginning to show according to new consumer and hospitality staff research we carried out with pointOne. The research reveals customer experience, particularly in QSR, is being damaged by the current crisis.
In the survey of 500 QSR customers and 100 frontline staff, nearly 2-in-3 customers had noticed venues being short-staffed over the last 3 months. 1-in-5 said they’d waited longer to be seated and served than normal.
Staff are beginning to feel the strain
Staff too are beginning to feel the strain, with 59% of team members admitting that customer experience is suffering in their venue due to lack of staff. The research suggests that the knock-on effect of shortages is also leading to an overload of work on existing staff and subsequent stress and dissatisfaction, with an alarming 64% of those interviewed saying that working in hospitality is less enjoyable now than it was pre-pandemic.
Given current staff shortages, tight budgets, and supply chain issues, the pressure is really on for operators to ensure that their staff have the time and space in which to ‘look after’ the fundamental customer demands and consistently deliver the experience their customers expect. Staff obviously only have a finite amount of time so it’s critical they are focused on the areas which will deliver the greatest return. Quality and relevant training, great leadership, and company culture, as well as emerging technology, are all critical enablers here.
Emerging technology can ease the staffing pain
Far from feeling threatened by it, 64% of hospitality staff say that their venues embracing time-saving technologies would improve their job satisfaction. 94% of them are confident that technology can help them do their job.
Staff recognise that technology, everything from detailed digital menus to time-saving self-serve kiosk ordering, can help free up their time to focus on delivering the highly sought-after soft skills of customer service and interaction.
“As we emerge out of this pandemic with the latest pressures of staff shortages, it may not feel like the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ moment we were looking for, but this could be a timely fork in the road for many operators. It offers a fantastic opportunity to completely re-evaluate their operation and implement automation tools that can free up employees’ time for the part of the job they really love, which is giving the customer a great experience.” Steve Rolfe, founder at pointOne
Demand for ‘human touch’ still critical
The demand for the ‘human touch’ and connection is still absolutely at the heart of a memorable customer experience and in fact, has grown in importance post-pandemic, even in a QSR environment; more than 40% of customers say staff friendliness and also knowledge is even more important to them now compared with 20 months ago.
Customers who want the most interaction from staff are women (compared with men), customers with children and Gen Z
Customers are desperate for service with a smile with 1-in-3 wanting staff to pro-actively engage with them, even in a QSR environment. However, more than 1-in-10 just want to be left alone while in a venue, with minimal contact with venue employees. Customers who want the most interaction from staff are women (compared with men), customers with children and perhaps surprisingly Generation Z; only 7% said they prefer to be left alone while in-venue compared with 17% of over 55-year-olds.
Embracing technology critical in delivery customer AND staff experience
Technology now plays an absolutely key role in delivering an outstanding customer experience. The research showed that simplifying and speeding up the order and pay part of their journey is one way in which tech is already delivering on its promise with more than 1-in-3 customers welcoming digital menus and digital order and pay screens.
Outstanding customer experience demands a human touch. It requires empathy, flexibility and passion. These skills can be harder to train and take a greater level of emotional and intellectual knowledge to deliver effectively. Operators need to create an environment in which these skills can flourish. The danger of having too many processes and menial tasks for staff to deal with is that they can negatively impact the capacity for them to connect with customers.
“Technology is here to stay. I’ve been in this industry all my life and the best part about it is the people. However, we are challenged on the people front and need to embrace change and quickly. How you embrace and integrate technology into your overall strategy will decide how your business will grow over the next digital era.” Editor of Tech on Toast, Chris Fletcher
The independent research commissioned by pointOne has been published in a white paper, People + Tech: A New Era of Customer Experience in QSR, available to download here.
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