As customers return, restaurants must improve the guest experience.

Have you ever been in a restaurant when the music shuts off, or a drive thru with no moving parts? Avoid that awkward audio-visual silence by creating a customized sensorial identity using the digital era’s most sought-after commodity: attention.

Part of quick-service restaurants’ challenge nowadays is bringing customers back into physical properties after the swell and success of hands-off living. The digital era calls for a new connectivity that combines the touchscreen with a human touch.

“Drive-thru became 100 percent important during COVID. Businesses leaned out of the sensorial experience. Now everyone’s beginning to lean back,” says David Vance, Mood Media’s vice president of QSR sales. “There’s a new dawning of ‘How am I going to compete with no one leaving their houses?’ You have to earn them back not just with food quality but with quality of experience.”

Savvy customers enter the door or drive thru radically informed—all reviews read, all menu choices seen, each location scouted. With all that research, a quick-service restaurant better live up to its good name.

“Personalization of the drive-thru system is going to be digitized, for sure, but I think that’s where the pendulum swung over to AI technology. I think somewhere it will come back and meet in the middle,” Vance says. Cost savings on experiences no longer makes sense and the first impression begins in the parking lot.

If content is king, then Vance likens strategy to the queen, and that union plays out as entertainment value in a controlled privatization of curated content for smell, sight, sound, and systems—meaning one store can operate under several auspices without skipping the record on varied demographics and individualized sonic identity.

“Everybody has a soundtrack, and everybody has their own playlist,” Vance says. So, the question becomes am I playing the right music, the right program, the right genre, even the right song. When you get into that level of depth, you have an exclamation point on your experience instead of a deterrent. We dig down to the brand filters of the true DNA of the business and pare it down to mirror the ebb and flow of every quick-service restaurant.”

Leaders’ increasingly avant-garde approach to interactive solutions extends to the employee experience as well. “Standards went up,” Vance says. “Businesses have moved on from buying the lower tier of everything. If I want a custom music program, do I really deliver it through a $3 speaker? Then I’m not really listening to the full orchestra. If the music or senses are static, you lose your employees’ attention. Employee retention and communication are vital to conducting business today. I need more headsets. I need more HD-quality sound and ear pads, and make sure my base station at all times is peeking according to my timer. We’re going to make sure we know every bit of the analytics.”

On the conduit of information and the rebranding cycle down from five years to six months, training employees to better serve clients is the ultimate return. Use this system to drive HR benefits, corporate inspiration, multi-location national calls, and, foremost, respect: “Employee loyalty means give me good equipment and environment for me to do my job properly,” Vance says. “That’s where technology is leading us. The only thing that limits us or our customers is our imagination.”

To learn more, visit the Mood Media website.

By Jocelyn Winn

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