15 years ago I spent some time travelling around Australia and found the customer service in shops, restaurants and bars way beyond anything I’d experienced back home here in the UK. I recall entering a store in Sydney with a shop assistant coming up to me within a few seconds saying,
Hi, how’re you doing today? Do you need help with anything?
As a brit, I cringed, lowered my head and ploughed on into the depths of the store…or on some occasions simply turned and ran away.
At the time I thought the experience was a bit creepy – a bit over the top – a bit too bloody jolly for my liking….and I was on a long holiday so it wasn’t that I was simply a grumpy old brit – I just didn’t get it.
But, what I now understand after many years of trying to master the art of customer engagement is that in fact, this was simply great customer service and I should have embraced it then as I do now.
Now, looking at the restaurant sector – one of the most competitive spaces to be in – great customer service is absolutely key and if not delivered to perfection all the time, then these business will simply die.
Recent research by ConiqMarketing into the space has found that 80% of new restaurants fail to make it through the first year, and a staggering 70% should expect to close the doors within 3 to 5 years. However, play your cards right and you could be one of the few that flourish.
So, what’s the recipe?
Well, there isn’t a hard and fast rule that can be applied to everyone, its simply about applying a bit of common sense.
Relationships + Good Service + Good Food
You deliver on all three and I’d lay money that you’d build enough loyalty to be around for many years to come.
A few tips for success…
Whether you’re an established brand or new to the game, in my experience there are a few simple things you can do to improve your chances of success.
Build a single customer view database
Use this to collect the contact details for all your diners, to store their eating habits, whether they have any allergies (just imagine walking into your local restaurant, being known and also being known to have a nut allergy – nice!) and what you like and don’t like. Record how often they come in, how much they spend and what they spend their money on.
This is just the start of it! You have access to all this info so you’d be mad not to use it to benefit your own business and the experiences you can offer your customers.
Engage your customers
Authors of the above infographic ConiqMarketing have found that
80% of 1000 customers would return if they were offered a loyalty scheme
70% of social followers expect rewards.
Using the single customer view database, you can now hook up directly with any digital touchpoint and engage in real-time though social/apps etc. By segmenting the data you have in the single customer view, you will be able to drive engagement thats relevant to the customer – whether thats delivering offers to entice customers into the restaurant via push notifications in a loyalty app when they’re close by, by doing something special such as offering your loyal customers something free whilst they’re in the restaurant, or simply promoting an event you know they’d be interested in – wine tasting evening, new menu etc.
You may ask how this is all possible but trust me – it can be done and without too great an investment.
Its nothing new but worth reiterating – relevant, personal, engaging experiences is what we all want….and maybe a few freebies now and again.
Review, learn and adapt
We all change our habits, we all change our tastes and we all move around. So the last and most important advice I can give is to listen to your customers, change behaviour to suit your audience and evolve to retain a very loyal customer base.
If you’ve reached this point, you may be thinking this is all pretty simple, or you may be thinking this all sounds a bit like witchcraft. Either way, no one is doing enough – especially in the restaurant sector – so teams like us are here to help realise the impossible.
I’ve been working with brands to unlock the value of their customers for years and once you have enough experience and stories about what works and what doesn’t then its all very, very simple.
If you want to know and understand more about the way data is changing the world you live in, or would like to know how data can add value to your business, please email me at email@example.com