77% of Restaurant Customers Say a Friendly Waitstaff Is Nonnegotiable

Proper staffing plays an important role in restaurant customer satisfaction.

Though restaurants have generally become more digital, little touches of customer service — such as friendliness and waitstaff continuity — still matter to consumers.

In fact, the feature restaurant customers look for most from their servers is friendliness, according to “The Digital Divide,” a PYMNTS and Paytronix collaboration based on a survey of 2,496 U.S. consumers.

Get the report: The Digital Divide

The survey found that 77% of restaurant consumers say staff friendliness is the most important feature a restaurant needs to provide, with 34% of consumers strongly agreeing with that statement and another 43% partially agreeing.

Staff friendliness is ranked higher than technology, as only 38% of restaurant customers agree that using more technologies for better customer service impacts their satisfaction. Fourteen percent of consumers strongly agree with that statement, and another 25% partially agree.

At the same time, service issues have become a problem for a substantial number of consumers who frequent restaurants. Sixty-three percent of these consumers say restaurants have become increasingly understaffed, and 39% say restaurants have become increasingly less personal.

chart, restaurant staffing impact on customers

It is also important that restaurant customers get the same servers every time. The survey found that 74% of consumers say being served by the same waitstaff every time they visit a restaurant positively impacts their satisfaction.

Only 18% of restaurant customers said that would have no impact, and 8% said they would not notice.

restaurant staffing impact

Restaurant technology can streamline ordering processes and improve overall efficiency, but its benefits have limits. To meet customers’ expectations, restaurants also need to provide staff friendliness and waitstaff continuity.

Restaurant owners who can leverage technological strengths to win over grab-and-go customers while continuing to foster a friendly and reliable human element for dine-in patrons will be in the driver’s seat as innovations continue.