“Now, it’s loading the menu and pricing for this location.”

My guide was walking me through a top QSR brand’s soon-to-be-released iPhone ordering application. Meanwhile, the clock ticked as an animated pinwheel churned away for an eternity (ok, it was just a few seconds — but an eternity in mobile time).

I waited but it is much more likely that a customer would lose patience, bail out and decide to eat somewhere else right about the moment the guide said, “now.”

Here’s the simple fact as we approach the end of 2014: Customers want to order and engage with your brand through an app on their smartphones. At the same time, they’re increasingly selective about what mobile apps they keep on their devices. Only highly controlled experiences that are intuitive, fast, and provide true convenience stand a chance.

Brands can no longer compromise between a beautifully designed interface, smart user flow, and snappy performance – they are all essential to keep customers repeatedly using an app and recommending it to others. (read more…)

With fast casual restaurants rapidly on the rise, the restaurant industry has forever changed. Even though fast casuals are emerging as the consumer favorite, this evolving segment has yet to be defined. Foodable WebTV Network has ventured to inform the industry and consumers with the first and only WebTV series about the segment, Fast Casual Nation. The episodes feature exclusive interviews from top chefs, restaurateurs and other industry insiders, while giving the viewer a close-up look at the menus that are changing the way America eats.

Foodable WebTV Network is taking it one step further by revealing a more in-depth look into the segment by producing Fast Casual Nation– The Documentary. It will be available for the mainstream audience of Netflix subscribers in early 2015. Watch the trailer below to get a preview of what is to come!

A first of its kind, the documentary explores the birth of the Fast Casual restaurant segment through exclusive interviews with the industry insiders, who started it all. (read more…)

Digital technology in the food world isn’t just about putting tablets on tables and giving smartphone users new ordering and payment options. It’s also about digital employee training programs that teach proper procedures, provide insights for human resource departments, boost sales and give employees a way to fit classes into their schedules without disrupting business.

“The biggest thing technology has brought is standardization,” said author and consultant Allan Barmak, whose firm creates custom training programs for businesses including restaurants. Typically, a new hire will train under an experienced employee, who will be working a shift while also trying to teach the trainee how the job is done, Barmak said. “The challenge is that the company has to trust that the person is teaching the right things and the company-approved message.”

Online courses that new employees take before they start give each new hire the same introduction to the job and the way the company wants things done, and with video-based training and webinars, the company controls the training session from beginning to end, he said. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by LINKFRESH. Consumers continue to ask where their food comes from and if it is sustainably produced. Companies have the opportunity to earn trust and win business by providing answers to these critical questions. In this Spotlight, we’ll share ways food providers can leverage technology to meet changing consumer demands.

Robert (Rob) Frost is group chief executive officer for LINKFRESH. Since joining the company in 1998 as finance director, he has worked closely with the Board of Directors in realizing a new vision for the business. In 2010, LINKFRESH began to expand internationally and now has offices in California. In addition to Europe, USA and Canada, LINKFRESH is also active in Australia and the Middle East. Robert’s early career was in the finance departments of large organizations, notably the University of Cambridge and BUPA private healthcare provider.

How can an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution help companies grow their business? (read more…)

Good food and a pleasant atmosphere are a big part of bringing customers in the door, but building relationships with those customers is important to securing repeat business. Tools like post-dining surveys, mobile applications and customer recovery programs are key for restaurants that want to get to know their customers and keep them coming back for more, a panel of experts said in a webinar presented Tuesday by NCR titled “Closing the Loop: Turning Customer Engagement into Repeat Business“.

Here are some key takeaways from the panel discussion:

Invest in tech

Technology is quickly becoming an inextricable part of the dining experience for many consumers, whether they are placing an order on a tabletop tablet or using Twitter or Facebook to leave feedback about their experience. Many customers — especially tech-savvy millennials — are starting to expect eateries to offer online ordering and mobile payment, and brands that fail to integrate tech solutions could lose business to competitors who are quicker to embrace tech. (read more…)