As technology continues to progress, restaurants are changing the way we experience dining out. From the way we pay our bill to how customers select a restaurant using our smartphones, restaurants are using cutting-edge technology to entice customers to return and eat at their business. To do this, restaurants need to integrate the latest forms of payments to stay up-to-date with the technological demands. 


Here are the main methods restaurants can use to digitize the dining experience: 


Build a Mobile App
Mobile apps are a great feature restaurants should incorporate to simplify their business and communicate with their customers. A mobile app allows customers to view the menu, place and customize their order, and pay via their smartphone. This significantly cuts out time having to call the restaurant with the possibility of being placed on hold.


On a similar note, restaurants can utilize their mobile app to send their customers promotions and current specials that are going on. This will persuade customers to come back to their restaurant and receive a discount on their meal. 


Use Social Media
Since many customers are now using their smartphones to research restaurant reviews, restaurants should take advantage of promoting their online presence by building social media pages. Facebook is an excellent social platform that fosters customer-to-restaurant interaction, allowing customers to leave reviews for restaurants and check in saying they ate there. Restaurants can further use other social media sites, such as Yelp and Twitter, to engage and respond to customer comments or complaints, announce new loyalty programs, and any menu changes. 


Invest in Mobile Tablets at the Table
Mobile tablets are a great way to enhance the customer service experience. For instance, mobile tablets give customers the opportunity to be in control of their dining experience all at their table. When a customer is ready to order, they can use a mobile tablet to look at the menu, place an order, and order refills – all without the help of a server. To help entertain guests while waiting for their food, customers can also play games on the tabletop tablets. 


Several restaurants, including Applebee’s and Chili’s, have already invested in mobile tabletop tablets and already are seeing positive results. 


"More than seven out of 10 people choose to pay on the Ziosk tablet when dining in a Chili's restaurant," said Krista Gibson, chief marketing officer for Chili's Grill & Bar. "Mobile payment delivers the speed, convenience and security that are clearly important to today's guest, and integrating this technology where it's never been available before will be a big benefit to new school consumers, especially millennials." 


Make Loyalty Programs Digital
It is also a good idea for restaurants to digitalize their loyalty programs and go mobile. For instance, restaurants can contact customers via text or e-mail and ask them to opt-in to receive coupons digitally, instead of mailing paper coupons. Coupons are a great way of getting customers to return to a restaurant and informing them of any specials going on that they can use for future visits. 


In order for restaurants to have long-term success, it is vital that they are using the most up-to-date forms of technology to connect with their customers. Creating a mobile app, engaging with customers via social media, installing mobile tablets at the table, and making digital loyalty programs are all key ways restaurants can streamline their business for the future.