We all know that the restaurant sector has been experiencing some tough times lately with increased competition, rising food prices, recruitment challenges and the B word (Brexit) still casting a level of uncertainty over everything. So with these challenges how can you as restaurateurs ensure your brand stands out from the crowd and keeps your customers returning for more?
The answer lies in your marketing and customer service. Not the revolutionary answer you were searching for perhaps but these two areas, when they are working properly, have the power to transform a business. The crucial factor is taking full advantage of the latest technologies to deliver these two key components. Let’s tackle your marketing first…
Today a customer’s expectation is much higher than in yesteryear and they will no longer tolerate a scattergun approach to targeting them with a generic email marketing campaign. Unless the offer is personalised and relevant, your email will be destined for the bin and understandably so.
Thanks to intelligent EPoS systems like those offered by pointOne, you can use integrated CRM and customer loyalty software to build targeted marketing campaigns and give tailored offers to your loyal customers. The aim is to use these tools to build a ‘Single Customer View’ which enables you to know your customer’s preferences over time so that all future loyalty offers hit them at the right time, on the right channel and crucially with the right offer.
Knowing which channel to deliver your marketing message based on customer demographic is really important as a survey by guest experience management expert, HGEM points out that 60% of millennials fall in love with restaurant brands via Instagram but the more traditional marketing channels such as email (25%) and magazine advertising (32%) remain the preference for baby boomers. The study also revealed customers value brands that focus on “honesty”, “reliability” and “willingness to go above and beyond” twice as much as brands that focus on being “fun” and “social” so the type of content you include is crucial to whether a customer clicks through or not.
This data is gathered from all digital touchpoints such as when they first book a table or order takeaway online; when they follow or interact with your brand on social media; when they sign up for your loyalty programme; and when they post a review or leave feedback. All these touchpoints help you build up a detailed picture of your customer which you can translate into a highly personalised experience even outside of their physically dining experience.
For example, if you know they always order particular dishes and they often like your content on Twitter then why not send them a direct message (DM) via this channel with a discount offer on their favourite dishes that can be redeemed in the restaurant or via takeaway if applicable. We know from a recent report from Cardlytics that the popularity of takeaway has increased by 19% in the last year and the average spend on takeaway has risen to £20.56 while in-dining spend has dropped to £19.95 so discounts should be offered for both dining options where possible.
Once you have your personalised marketing working nicely this leads to your second key component, that of delivering perfect in-dining customer service. Making their dining visit a special and personalised experience should be a seamless continuation of their brand experience online and this is the responsibility of your FOH staff to deliver.
Forget the likes of online influencers, it is your staff who are the real ambassadors for your brand. Of course, it’s important that the food and drink are perfect but just as much focus should be placed on your FOH delivering flawless customer service. After all it is this interaction that diners remember when they eat out, particular if they have a negative experience.
According to the HGEM survey, four-fifths of UK diners said they would ‘dump’ a restaurant brand after one bad experience and almost three-quarters (72%) of customers believe a single team member has the power to influence their decision to like a restaurant brand or not, which shows how important it is for that first and future interactions with staff to go impeccably each and every time.
To help your staff deliver this exemplary service they must have the tools for the job and this means investing in employee engagement. Your staff are your biggest asset as they are there every day meeting and serving your customers and so are best placed to identity any pressure points and provide suggestions on improvements. These can be invaluable insights and involving staff in troubleshooting will help give them a sense of responsibility for the success of your brand. If you have a winning and inclusive internal culture your staff will be happier to come to work and this will translate into their customer service.
Outside of fostering a great company culture and healthy employee engagement your staff will also benefit from time-saving technology courtesy of your intelligent EPoS. Tools such as tableside ordering tablets will allow your FOH to speed up order-taking with no need to re-key orders into the till. Staff will be able to answer any questions about dish ingredients and allergens all via the tablet at the table, without delay. Customers can even see photos of the dish and get an idea of portion size – all instant information that gives great customer service!
Once you have your marketing activities and customer service aligned and working seamlessly, you will find that your customer’s positive dining experience will drive loyalty and strong brand engagement organically leading to your goal of repeat visits and increased sales.