COVID-19 is one of the largest global crises we’ve ever experienced, challenging restaurants to balance the safety of their employees and customers with the necessity to remain profitable. Thus, new kinds of dining experiences have emerged—with everything from curbside pickup and delivery, to outdoor dining, and even take-home meal kits. But one trend is favored above all others—mobile ordering and delivery.

Restaurants should prioritize mobile ordering & delivery within their digital experiences

Research among thousands of mobile app ratings and reviews for quick service restaurants, such as Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Domino’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and Subway, confirms that order and delivery is one of the top-mentioned features that consumers hope their favorite restaurant offers. So it makes sense that restaurants looking to quickly pivot to a model that keeps their customers safe are likely leveraging third-party food delivery apps. While this is a quick-fix solution, the problem with third-party apps is that they don’t offer customer data for the restaurants they serve. This leaves companies without the precious information that they need to personalize their customers’ experiences.

A good example of this would be a pizza restaurant’s mobile app. The pizzeria knows that Sree, a vegetarian, never orders meat lover’s pizza, so they never offer him deals for that pie. Instead, they may offer him a digital coupon for their new spinach and artichoke crust dip, encouraging him to try it, adding an incremental purchase to his usual order. This example demonstrates how data can make a huge difference for restaurants looking to satisfy and retain profitable customers. Without these customer insights, companies don’t know what personalized offers and rewards will keep them coming back for more.

For this reason, the most impactful change that restaurants can make right now is implementing or enhancing order and pickup in their mobile app. This feature alone could offer restaurants the biggest ROI.

Bad app ratings hurt restaurants, a lot

In addition to offering a digital experience, such as delivery, other research points to the impact that ratings can have – so while it’s important to implement delivery, it’s even more important that the experience is flawless. That’s because consumers are 50 percent less likely to download an app with a rating below 4 stars and 80 percent less likely to download an app below 3 stars. And 55 percent of consumers say that a 1 or 2 star rating negatively influences their perception of the overall brand.

With an average app rating of 4.5 among the top quick service restaurants, competition for consumer loyalty is at an all-time high and restaurants that fall below the threshold suffer.

So how can restaurants evaluate their programs to determine customer satisfaction?

Utilizing data to take action and boost app ratings

Companies often conduct a myriad of activities to decipher where they should be innovating. But these activities usually lead to a very long to-do list, creating confusion around where to get started, how to find resources, and what to prioritize.

To combat these challenges and quickly help restaurants pivot during COVID-19, the Friction Report, a tool that utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to analyze and report the top pain points experienced by users of the most widely-used mobile apps, was created. This year, companies can see comparative insights between 2019 and 2020 that show how COVID-19 has impacted mobile apps in the restaurant industry. This Friction Report uncovered insights including:

  • There is a dramatic increase in first time app usage from technology laggards with reviews that give insight into how apps can be more accessible for new users.
  • Mobile orders and satisfaction with those orders have increased as a result of COVID-19 keeping people at home and out of stores.
  • Reviews mentioning delivery have increased, with reviewers specifically asking companies to address “contactless delivery.”


All of this suggests that now is the time to maximize mobile channels and move efforts to retaining customers on this platform. Restaurants that do this will see a higher average basket size, more frequent ordering, and less labor necessary at store checkouts.

The key takeaway for all restaurants? Mobile app ratings matter.

At a time when consumers are increasingly relying on mobile apps for everything from digital banking to telehealth visits, and especially for ordering, purchasing, and picking up or scheduling delivery of their food – restaurants should be refocusing on their digital efforts, making their mobile app the absolute easiest experience for customers.

Brian Levine is the VP of Strategy & Analytics at Mobiquity. He is the creator of the Friction Reports and can be reached for a consultation at

Outside Insights, Story, Technology