Customer Experience was Changed by the Pandemic, But Technology Came in to Revitalize It

July 14, 2023
Barbara Castiglia


The world was forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the customer experience industry, especially in the restaurant sector, has faced unprecedented challenges and transformation. The role of technology has been amplified, not only as a survival tool during a time of social distancing and lockdowns, but also as a driving force for long-term, meaningful change in how businesses interact with their customers. 

According to a survey by McKinsey, 75 percent of consumers tried different stores, websites, or brands during the pandemic, and many of these consumers expect to integrate the new brands and stores into their post-pandemic lives. The stakes are high as businesses grapple with the question: How do we evolve the customer experience to meet these new realities and expectations?

In a recent episode of ‘The Main Course,’ host Barbara Castiglia, who is also the Executive Editor of Modern Restaurant Management, delves into this critical question with Johnny Tellez, VP of International Operations and Training at Focus Brands International. The conversation centered around how the customer experience has changed during the pandemic, the role technology has played in these changes, and how restaurants are adapting their use of technology to enhance customer experience.

Some important points of Castiglia and Tellez’s conversation included:

  • The impact of the pandemic on international restaurant operations and how it required businesses to pivot rapidly, introducing new processes, and procedures.
  • The creation and implementation of the Customer Experience Center of Excellence, which provides international franchisees with support in their local time zones and languages.
  • The shift from traditional in-person visits to completely virtual audits of franchise locations, increasing the number of annual visits and fostering improved operational standards.

Johnny Tellez is the VP of International Operations and Training at Focus Brands International, and has an impressive background in overseeing operations and training needs across more than 60 countries and for five brands. Tellez provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic. He discusses how his team developed creative solutions to maintain operations and deliver top-notch customer experience during these turbulent times.

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