National Restaurant Association Sees Opportunity in Integrating Technology and Customer Service to Create a Balanced, Satisfying, and Memorable Dining Experience

CHICAGO — Restaurants will excel by balancing the use of technology to make the dining experience more efficient, convenient, and personalized, while still being attentive and customer-focused.  

This message was underscored by National Restaurant Association President & CEO Michelle Korsmo today during her keynote address delivered to attendees at the annual National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. Korsmo emphasized to the owners, operators, and suppliers present that restaurant operators will find success by knowing their target customers.

“Thinking about technology starts with understanding the value proposition you offer your customers, determining their needs, wants, preferences, and behaviors and then tailoring your technology and service accordingly. This is the high tech and high touch approach that is critical in the restaurant business today. It can build loyalty and ultimately lead to growth. Technology has developed significantly in the restaurant industry. Now, each of you are at the crossroads where you must figure out, what is that high tech – high touch balance for your business” said Korsmo during her remarks.

‘High Tech’ and ‘High Touch’ 

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry report, the restaurant industry is on track to reach record high in sales. However, the industry isn’t typically thought of as high tech. In reality, there is rapid and widespread adoption of new technologies in the industry, with 76 percent of operators say that technology gives them a competitive edge.

Korsmo also noted that the industry is chiefly reliant on its people and the services they provide, reinforcing the importance of remaining high touch and why the customer experience continues to be the paramount differentiator for restaurants.  

A Vision for the Future 

“Ultimately, the experience you provide in real life is what keeps your customers coming back. How you use technology to interact with them is what converts new customers into regulars and regulars into high frequency guests. Our research shows today’s customers demand new, tech-driven ways to interact with restaurants. You must get your technology strategy right for your restaurant. But remember, you can’t have a technology strategy that is separated from your value proposition. Ultimately, it is your value proposition that sets you apart and makes you successful,” Korsmo said.

Determining how investments in technology should evolve over time to meet those preferences are a crucial part of this balance, as is using new technologies to help recruit, train and retain employees. Korsmo reiterated that restaurants are facing labor challenges, with operators stating their most significant challenge in 2024 is recruiting and retaining employees.  

Korsmo also stressed that rather than displacing workers, technology will enhance job functions across the workforce. Her final call to action to the industry: You do not have to choose between high tech and high touch, but you do need a balance in order to create the best possible experience for customers.  

Read Korsmo’s full remarks here.  

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.5 million employees. Together with 52 State Associations, we are a network of professional organizations dedicated to serving every restaurant through advocacy, education, and food safety. We sponsor the industry’s largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit and find @WeRRestaurants on TwitterFacebook and YouTube.