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Where CX is King: How the rise of the customer experience is fundamentally changing the foodservice sector

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The consumption of food and beverage (F&B) is a multi-sensory activity that, for most of us, happens three times a day. This multi-sensory aspect, however, has never been truer than in today’s Insta-food culture where, more often than not, we first feast with our eyes and mobile devices, and taste the joy and affirmation from the feedback we receive from our online social following before a morsel of food even enters our mouths.

Yet, beyond the engagement of senses, the consumer journey of food has evolved dramatically over the years with the rise of the concept of customer experience (CX). Defined as customers’ perception of, and interaction with,a brand across the entire customer life cycle, CX is driving, and being driven by shifting customer preferences and technological advancements.

A key force changing the dynamics and interaction between brands and their customers is the increased number of touchpoints created by the explosion of digital platforms. This omnichannel approach is giving rise to new business models in the industry such as food delivery apps and ghost restaurants, which are altering and extending the CX journey (source​) in the foodservice sector. At the same time, these platforms are concurrently being shaped by CX considerations such as increased convenience and lowered costs, creating a feedback loop in the development of new modes of business.

Adding on to these dynamics are the headwinds of constantly shifting consumer preferences and trends in F&B. A big part of these trends is the recent spotlight on health and nutrition with the growing prevalence of super foods, organic products, as well as functional and free-from foods and beverages. How companies tap on these increasing consumer demands, and deliver their products and services with the customer experience in mind, will determine if the business continues to stay relevant moving forward.

The topic of the evolving food experience will be a key focus at Asia’s largest dedicated F&B trade show, THAIFEX-World of Food Asia​, this year. Highlighting the latest trends and innovation in the foodservice segment, the THAIFEXfuture Food Experience+ ​showcase will incorporate talk shows, product demonstrations and workshops. The show will address how concepts such as CX in F&B are impacting and interacting with food and nutrition trends, business operations, beverage innovation, technology and the food experience, to shape the future of food.

Featuring specially curated products, designs and revolutionary technologies from exhibiting companies, trending international innovators and up-and-coming start-ups from around the world, THAIFEXfuture ​Food Experience+​ will present a chance for visitors to meet the disruptors and innovators of the industry.

One such company is Fling, a leading drone consulting start-up in Southeast Asia that is seeking to transform the foodservice sector by introducing drone food delivery to the region. With demand for food delivery exploding across the region as the disposable income of the population increases, the industry is set to see a future shortage of labor in the form of couriers who may be harder to recruit. Drone delivery of F&B can potentially address this labor crunch, and change the experience of food delivery by significantly decreasing the amount of time it takes to get orders to customers, making delivery accessible to remote areas, and getting food to people with mobility issues.

In today’s F&B landscape, it’s no longer sufficient for businesses to merely deliver good food to customers – they also have to create amazing customer experiences in order to stay relevant. The truth is that the concept of CX has changed the way companies in the foodservice segment operate, with digital channels opening up many different avenues for companies to not just deliver products and services, but more importantly, to delight their customers and make them stay.

In an age where CX is king, brands that do not keep up with changing business models and the latest consumer preferences and demands through research, knowledge sharing and updating themselves on market trends will be at risk of losing the only reason why they exist – their customers.