New research from tech services and support firm Boomtown finds that technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of shopping and dining experiences for Americans—and in turn, technology successes and failures are seriously impacting whether consumers return to a store or restaurant.

Nearly half of consumers say that positive experiences due to well-functioning technology lead them to greater brand confidence (46 percent) and more frequent visits to the business (44 percent). Conversely, negative experiences due to malfunctioning technology result in a decline in brand confidence and less frequent visits to the business for more than a quarter of consumers (28 percent).

The report, The Digital Forward Customer Experience: New Expectations and Obstacles for Today’s Storefront, examines how tech savvy national brick and mortar retail and restaurant chains are transforming the experiences and expectations of consumers across the entire shopping and dining landscape.

There’s a strong preference for brands that make widespread use of advanced, reliable and intuitive technology

These brands, which are often called ‘digital forward’, include stores and restaurants like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Shake Shack, Chipotle and others, and are gaining the business and loyalty of today’s consumers.

According to the report, consumers who frequent large chain establishments over smaller businesses name technology as one of the key aspects of their in-store experience—highlighting a range of digital payment options (critical to 57 percent of consumers), online ordering & local pick up capabilities (important to 50 percent), self check-out options (important to 49 percent), and other digital offerings like in-store WiFi and real-time order information.

How tech-savvy retailers & restaurants are raising the bar on CX

But delivering a technology-driven customer experience can be fraught with risk

According to the survey, over 80 percent of consumers have encountered technical issues at retail stores and restaurants, and the consequences of a failed experience can be dire (including complaints, as well as a decline in business and brand reputation).

“These findings confirm that the digital transformation of the consumer experience is fully underway and that businesses—from small, regional shops or restaurants to national, consumer-facing chains – must invest in their technology to court and keep consumers,” said Alfred ‘Chip’ Kahn IV, CEO and founder of Boomtown, in a news release. “But, investment in technology-driven customer experiences creates complexity and risk, offering the opportunity to please the customer but potentially imperiling customer relationships if the promise falls short.”

How tech-savvy retailers & restaurants are raising the bar on CX

Other key findings from the research include:

  • When shopping or eating at large chains, 57 percent of consumers prioritize a wide range of reliable digital payment options as central to their overall experience
  • After a positive experience involving technology, 63 percent of consumers will compliment the location owner or refer the location to others
  • For 56 percent of consumers, a negative technology experience will translate to filing an official complaint
  • Over 80 percent of consumers have had at least one encounter with a technical glitch (such as failed payment processing or non-functional Wi-Fi) as they shopped or dined; nearly 60 percent of consumers have encountered these technical glitches multiple times
  • Nearly 60 percent have encountered slow or malfunctioning electronic payment systems
  • One in three respondents has encountered faulty or unavailable Wi-Fi or incorrect information online (36 percent)

How tech-savvy retailers & restaurants are raising the bar on CX

“Retail stores and restaurants should acknowledge that customers’ expectations and demands have grown to include an intuitive, seamless technology-driven experience,” added Kahn. “Thanks to the precedent set by today’s digital-forward leaders, businesses large and small can learn from these strategies and deliver a better experience to their customers.”

Download the full report here.

Boomtown’s report is based on a survey of 1,033 U.S. consumers.

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