Beyond Transactions: How to Use Data to Drive Meaningful Connections and Customer Loyalty

Without customer loyalty, it’s difficult to succeed in any business, particularly when you’re competing in a crowded landscape like hospitality. Customer retention plays a significant role, with existing customers spending two-thirds more than new ones and 70 percent of Americans considering loyalty programs as a top reason to be faithful to their favorite brands.

Now is the perfect time to identify, understand and engage your most valuable diners and deliver timely, relevant offers. This can be done by leveraging data to make your restaurant their top choice – and enticing them back for more.

Connect with Guests to Drive Loyalty

Loyalty pays off in spades. A Deloitte survey of 3,000-plus customers found 47 percent of restaurant loyalty club members used their perks multiple times per month, with more than one-third doing so several times each week. 

Consider your own restaurant loyalty experiences. When a server or drive-thru attendant greets you by name and asks, “Would you care for your usual chicken sandwich meal with a large fry?,” this is a superior, more personalized experience than, “What can I get you today?”

A direct correlation exists between building strong relationships with customers and retaining them. Therefore, leverage smart restaurant technology to gather diner data and use it to identify customers willing to spend more with you. Data enables your restaurant to offer personalized incentives and serve up recommendations for additional menu items based on order history. With the right consumer marketing solution, your restaurant can focus its efforts and budget on high-value customers, instead of those who’ve already churned.

Unify Guest Data for Comprehensive Customer Service 

On the heels of 40-year inflationary highs, most consumers in today’s post-COVID market search for deals and rewards from loyalty programs before making a purchase. 

To be effective, your guest experience should be informed by transactional and experiential data to offer personalized rewards, offers and marketing specials that drive repeat visits and increase spend. In fact, 40 percent of diners spend more when they are a restaurant loyalty member. 

You also want all your technology, including your marketing and loyalty applications, to be integrated in a way that powers modern guest experiences. Technology partners with a platform-based approach to developing solutions can help you access valuable, rich data in raw or derived form. Capturing customer behavior in real-time, leveraging a customer data platform (CDP), can also inform more comprehensive profiles of your guests for real-time, personalized marketing. 

No Marketing Staff? No Problem.

Rewards programs exist outside of big-name loyalty apps like Chick-Fil-A One, MyMcDonald’s and Freaky Fast Rewards from Jimmy John’s. Small businesses can use technology to bolster their loyalty programs by using automation to launch campaigns, segmenting customer personas and targeting diners with exceptional deals based on behavior. 

Customer segmentation involves dividing your diners based on age, gender, spending patterns and other factors that shape how they buy from a brand. Doing so helps target specific guests with similar habits. For instance, a persona of an adult working the conventional 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekday shift might be enticed with personalized lunch specials. Through further segmentation, the same adult with children living at home could be swayed by a family dinner deal.

Lean on Restaurant Tech

Today’s state of intense data and increasing time spent online, coupled with a natural desire for deeper relationships, has driven consumers to expect more and more from the brands they interact with. Finding the right technology to develop tailored experiences for your guests not only improves the guest experience, but also gives you more time to run your restaurant. Improving retention by just five percent, your restaurant can increase profits by at least 25 percent.

Data doesn’t appear on the menu. And it’s not what the customer thinks about when choosing to dine with your establishment or not. But uncovering critical insights based on all spend and non-spend behaviors of your guests can help unleash successful marketing campaigns that ultimately drive loyalty, growth and greater revenue.