How to Use Customer Research to Drive Your Restaurant Ordering App

Put the customer first with your restaurant ordering app experience. Explore best practices for gathering and implementing customer research.

COVID-19 changed dining and diner’s expectations. As we push toward a digital-first future, it’s important to deliver not only the latest restaurant app technology, but also app experiences that customers want.

Customer research can help. Learn what shapes restaurant customer actions today and how to use customer research to drive your restaurant ordering app.

What Makes Customers Tick?

How do your customers think or feel? Why do they interact with technology the way they do? Generally speaking, restaurant customers follow a handful of patterns:


If it’s digital, they’re all-in. Seventy percent of customers prefer to place orders digitally over in-person, and 59-63 percent want to order straight from the restaurant. Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) even conducted a study that shows that delivery is a go-to for people of all ages, with 43 percent of people ages 18-65 ordering once a month or more.

How and why they use food apps

Consumers turn to restaurant ordering apps and make both conscious and unconscious decisions along the way.

NRN says many factors play into how and why consumers use apps and place their orders. For one, they select a restaurant based on speed, variety, and trust. One survey asked consumers why they reorder from a restaurant, and the results aren’t surprising:

  • 50 percent noted the taste of the food
  • 46 percent highlighted the quality
  • 39 percent said the ease of reordering

But there are other factors you wouldn’t necessarily expect. For instance, customers are looking for international cuisines and vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Larger delivery apps provide ways to access these. Additionally, trying new restaurants is driven by discovery and emotion, whether that means a customer is in the mood for something new or they are drawn in by attention-grabbing food photography.

Loyalty moves the needle

Never underestimate the power of the deal. People like getting something for nothing, so loyalty programs are a massive draw. Forbes points to a few compelling customer stats in favor of loyalty programs:

  • 69 percent said loyalty programs encouraged more frequent visits
  • 80 percent think loyalty programs should provide immediate benefits

How to conduct customer research

From customers’ desire for tech-enabled ordering to their push for inclusivity in food options, the restaurant industry is always in flux. Keeping up with customer needs and current trends are starting points for conducting customer research and achieving success. Qualitative and quantitative research methods and secondary sources can peel back the layers of complex customer wants and needs.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research gets you up close with customers, opening the door to let them tell you what they think and how they feel. It isn’t tied to hard numbers and provides insights into their opinions and experiences. To shape your restaurant ordering app and restaurant experience, consider a few qualitative strategies:

  • Focus groups: Invite target customers to test your app.
  • Interviews: Talk to your customers!
As the saying goes, sometimes the best way to get the answers you’re looking for is straight from the horse’s mouth.

Quantitative research

If you’re looking for specific insights or trying to piece together trends that may affect your restaurant ordering app, quantitative research is the best bet. It’s a little less intimate, but helps in collecting and analyzing numerical data. The easiest quantitative method is the online survey. Surveys allow you to:

  • Provide anonymous feedback opportunities on the app and restaurant for target audience members.
  • Set goals for specific information you want to gather.
  • Use closed-ended questions to make answers quick for the respondents.

Numbers talk, so what are yours saying? Quantitative research tools can help you find out.

Secondary sources

There are more passive approaches to customer research. If you stay keyed in to what’s happening online, you’ll likely pick up on a few tidbits to help your restaurant ordering app. Secondary sources vary. You can:

  • Read the online reviews for your app and restaurant.
  • Collect and consider mobile feedback.
  • Track social media chatter to understand customer tastes and trends.
  • Read case studies to learn what similar restaurant apps are doing right.

Collecting customer data as part of customer research

Customer data stored inside your restaurant ordering app provides a world of information. The data shows how customers interact with your app and reveals their spending habits, informing your menu engineering choices and helping you improve customer service. App orders collect at least five pieces of customer info:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Location and address
  • Food preferences

The more customers use your app, the more you learn about them, from average order spend to favorite dishes. This wealth of data is more reason to maintain your own app. Third-party apps only share certain details, depending on the situation.

What to do with customer research

Once you have conducted the surveys and examined your app data, what can you do with that information? Customer research drives several initiatives and improvements:

Use it for marketing

Knowing what your customers and users want means you can more effectively market to them. Use the information you have to market to the right people and create a better customer experience. Bring everything full circle by using customer feedback and data to customize promotions and incentives, such as emails, text messages, and rewards.

Reduce waste

So much food goes into the trash. The U.S. discards 40 million tons of food every year, and grocery stores, restaurants, and food service companies account for 40 percent of that. The trends you see in your restaurant ordering app show what customers want. This allows you to only order what you need from suppliers, reducing waste.

Inform staffing and order needs

Business at noon on a weekday is way different from the dinner rush on a Saturday. You will see patterns in your restaurant’s traffic based on app order volume, telling you:

  • How many people to schedule for different shifts.
  • Which types of customers are more likely to order and when.

Remember: Customer data should only ever be collected voluntarily, and your restaurant ordering app should disclose what that includes and how you’ll use it.

Use customer research to make your restaurant app its best

Customer research drives the success of your restaurant ordering app because it focuses specifically on what users want and need. Actively gather customer data to make your app work for you, but don’t forget to pull insights from the app itself. You’ll unlock a new world of opportunities.

Ready to make your restaurant ordering app work for you? Download The Complete Guide to Building a Restaurant App: From Deliver to Delight for pro insights. When you’re ready, get in touch to get started.

The Complete Guide to Building a Restaurant App: From Deliver to Delight

Check our insightful Ebook resource about customizable digital ordering solution and how it affects business.
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