NPD Group also expects the industry to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.
Britain's top restaurant leaders expressed optimism about the future of the QSR and fast casual restaurant sector, seeing multi-channel experiences as a baseline to respond to post-lockdown customer preferences or expectations.
"The world has shifted," said Pizza Hut UK general manager Neil Manhas. "To be relevant, provide easy experiences and be truly distinctive...is going to be so important as we start to step out of this and new habits are forged. I completely believe there is a strong future for all aspects of QSR; we saw it even on the fast casual side."
"Multiple revenue streams are key. I think this has all been fast-tracked," Triple Two Coffee managing director David Hodgetts added, expecting a high street boom some time between mid-May and June. "People do want to get back by normality but there are going to be changes that are material."
PAUL UK chief executive Mark Hilton surmised that customer expectations did not necessarily change, but said that the industry needed to "execute differently" to meet changing requirements.
Meeting customer expectations also meant looking after staff, he added.
"At the end of the day, they are the frontline interacting with the consumer. If we want to project a really strong brand, we can only do it through them. The critical thing to me, coming out of all of this, is providing a work environment that is special for all of people so that they remain with us and grow with us."
Whilst customers learned new ways of ordering food, German Doner Kebab director of operations for UK and Europe Michael Biggins said the challenge of offering reassurance in-store remains as restaurants continue to re-open.
"They want reassurance that the food is great, the hospitality is good and they made the right decision."
The executives shared their insights during QSR Media's customer experience webinar held last 28 April.
NPD Group director for client development Sergey Chekmarev, who offered a presentation on post-lockdown opportunities and shared key questions brands must ask on digital transformation, expects the industry to eventually perform at pre-pandemic levels.
"The future is definitely bright. We'll be back to at least 2019 levels. The only way is up from there; I'm absolutely positive," he said.
From a payment solution provider's side, Worldline managing director for Northern Europe Lee Jones expects evolution in utilising technology in the next 12 - 18 months, seeing the integration of various platforms as one of the concerns looking to be addressed.
"Do think digital...and do use the data. Really using that...would be very valuable and very helpful moving forward," he advised.
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