Once upon a time, you dined weekly at your personal, local favorite. Your server, Tanya would walk up to your table and ask if you would like your usual. The outstanding service made you feel special; like you were an exclusive customer, and you had your own personal service. For this reason, you wouldn’t think of going anywhere else.
Now, however, Tanya no longer works there. The restaurant has grown, and almost none of the new staff knows who you are. In your mind, your weekly brunch destination has lost some of its charm. Maybe it is time to try one of the new places down the road with the extravagant eggs benedict, or the place with great deals on mimosas.
This is a rather common example of why customers choose to take their business elsewhere. When they lose the personalized experience, you lose them. Superior, personalized service is what keeps the regulars returning weekly, and turns a first time guest into a repeated customer.
So how do you personalize the experience for the customer in the hospitality industry? Leverage your data. Here’s how data improves the customer experience:
1) Get customers excited about their own data
2) Improve customer service interactions
3) Identify Customer Pain Points, and Solve Them Before it is too Late
4 ) Personalize the customer service experience. Predict what customers want before they ask for it
5) Give Every Employee Access To the Data: How This is Applied
Get Customers Excited About Their Own Data
As consumers, we are getting really excited about all our data. We use wearable technology and watch more Netflix and Amazon Prime than TV. Part of this is because it creates a personalized experience.
You can easily create “superfans” by utilizing this data that they give you. Create a loyalty program geared toward exactly what those customers want. Don’t give them the typical…”Spend $100 and get $10 off.” If they order french toast almost every time they come in, you can easily personalize their reward. Spend $100 and we will buy your next french toast. This will likely get them more excited, and they will be flattered that you “recognized” that they love french toast.
Improve Customer Service Interactions
Contrary to what many think, leveraging Big Data isn’t just for marketing and product development. By giving your employees access to the data they can effortlessly improve their relationships with customers.
For starters, they will not have to ask the customer as many obnoxious questions to get an idea of what’s going on. For example, if the manager calls up a guest regarding a complaint on Yelp, he or she already has access to the customer’s name. When the manager pulls up data on the guest, it will show what he or she ordered, so the manager doesn’t even have to ask, “What did you order?”
Data also enables us to personalize the experience for our customers. This is further described below.
Identify Customer Pain Points, and Solve Them Before it is too Late
While you likely know some of the pain points of your customers, you often times discover them too late. This is why the chef, the kitchen manager or floor manager walks around inquiring about guests’ experiences. This is also why we have secret shoppers and guest surveys.
However, if you dig deep into your data, you can probably find out what some of these pains are without asking, or bugging your customers for surveys. Then you can mitigate their concerns before you have to give out a $50 gift card.
An example of a problem you may encounter is that the ticket times are higher than expected. You can use data to create a solution to guarantee the promised ticket times, and even to reduce the amount of time it takes from when guests order food to when it gets to the table.
Personalize the Customer Service Experience and Predict What Customers Want Before They Ask For it.
Remember how Tanya knew exactly what you liked to order each time you came in? Using Big Data, any of the employees can do this. And with very little extra effort on the employees behalf.
With the growing popularity of online reservations, you can personalize the experience for the guest. An example of this is OpenTable. To make a reservation, each guest must input their name. Therefore, the system keeps track of every interaction made by each individual. This is helpful because, you know right away, the second they walk through the door, if they are regulars or if they are first time guests. You can also call each guest by their first name. You can also see where in the restaurant they sat last and record if they mentioned that they liked sitting there. Then, next time you can seat them in the same section.
If you can connect the data from these different sources, then you can have a ton of information at your feet about the customer. You can learn what they like to drink, what they like to eat and more. Then, not only can you ask them if they would like their usual, but you can make informed recommendations of what they may like to try.
Give Every Employee Access To the Data: How This is Applied
If you were to incorporate other forms of unstructured data, you could take this to another level. By viewing their online behavior, you can make the perfect sale. For example, you may see that a particular individual, that has not been to your restaurant in over a year, recently researched recipes for bourbon cocktails, and pinned some recipes for a Boston Sour. As the bartender, you know exactly what types of drinks to introduce to that guest. You may bring up that what most now call a “Boston Sour,” used to simply be called the Whiskey Sour, but over time, many places begins making it, sans the egg white. This customer is likely to be blown away, engaged in conversation and more likely to drink what the bartender recommended.
When the guests go into the dining room for their dinner, the server wouldn’t have to ask what they were drinking. They would simply ask, “Would you like another Boston Sour?”
This experience is likely to be one that the customer won’t forget. And the best part is, it doesn’t mean that the employees have to put in a ridiculous amount of effort; it may even make it easier, because they know exactly what to talk about. All of the information is at their fingertips, at all times.
Finally, let’s go back to the guest that loves bourbon drinks. If we introduce a new drink with bourbon, or a new special on a bourbon drink, we know to notify them of this.
The only thing is, no system, or data tool can accomplish this in a timely manner. You need to combine the data, extracted from multiple sources, in order to achieve these results and applications.
There are some softwares out there that attempt to do this. However, they are traditionally slow, and ineffective, especially at consolidating both structured and unstructured data, which is common for most restaurants.
It is important for restaurants to receive and update this information quickly and constantly. This is why business intelligence and data analytics firms that can consolidate the data from different sources are particularly helpful. Get repeat sales, and returning guests. Call Cliintel.