Customer Intelligence Is Key to Revolutionizing Restaurants Inside and Out
4 Min Read By Jessica Valenzuela
It may not look like it at first glance, but every interaction you have with your guests generates data. From the moment they set foot inside your restaurant to the first time they log onto your website, your customers are sharing vital pieces of information that can fundamentally change how your brand operates.
To understand what customer intelligence is, we have to define what it means for restaurants. At its core, customer intelligence involves collecting and analyzing data to build better relationships with guests and improve operations through smarter decision-making. Typically, customer data is collected by the point of sale platform and website, along with other online properties, apps, and third-party platforms. This raw data is often difficult to understand and even harder to act on, but when it can be combined into actionable insights, restaurants have a 360-degree view of their operations.
The right data empowers restaurants to spot trends, identify high-value and long-term customers, reduce costs, and improve the bottom line.
Customer Intelligence Brings Brands Closer to Their Guests
There are more than one million restaurants in the United States, and the truth is most of them are not great at customer acquisition. In some cases, the threshold for a restaurant “acquiring” a customer is simply having them walk through the front door.
Those who adopt a guest-centric approach to food will continue to excel, combining traditional customer service with the personalization afforded by their data.
Sure, traditional customer acquisition methods still work, but data has the potential to paint a much more complete guest journey. Armed with the right information, restaurants can develop hyper-targeted marketing campaigns triggered by behavior from the point of acquisition throughout the customer lifecycle. This means an email marketing message turns into a deeper conversation with each customer.
Utilizing customer intelligence makes it easier for brands of all types and sizes to identify who their best guests are and keep them coming back. With actionable insights, brands can quickly identify possible outreach targets, increase how often they come in, establish target guest groupings, and even create specific promotions for select audiences.
As a result, concepts have the power to send out offers and promos to high-value guests, encouraging them to come in more often or stop by at certain times. On the flip side, the same data helps restaurants encourage lower-spending guests to make additional purchases and qualify for other promotions.
Using Customer Intelligence to Cut Costs and Increase Revenue
The same data that makes it possible to spot trends and engage customers is also capable of redefining how restaurants manage food and labor costs. When concepts have access to the right customer intelligence information, it makes it easier to understand food costs and simplifies the menu engineering process.
Customer intelligence data is critical to menu engineering because that data is generated directly from your guests. By determining what your customers want to eat, you can use that information to optimize your menu, reduce food waste caused by over-ordering, and manage labor costs. Performing regular menu engineering can boost restaurant profits by up to 15%.
By finding trends in customer purchase patterns, it makes it easier to identify X-factors and highlight opportunities to be more efficient. For the average restaurant, this means using trend data to see what items typically get ordered together and then creating cross-sell and up-sell opportunities to move more of them, either as part of a combo or as a promotion.
Going Far Beyond Customer Engagement
When you understand what your customers want and how they interact with your restaurant both in-store and online, it's easier to focus on what sells and then create menus that drive profits.
When your kitchen team is crafting recipes that are not selling too well, while on top of that the menu item requires high-labor costs, it is a much easier conversation when you have the data and analytics available.
Having access to deeply connected data and insights gives restaurants the power to make decisions that better benefit their businesses, including developing menus, implementing marketing campaigns, and identifying the resources needed to keep everything operating smoothly and efficiently without a ton of guesswork. Machine learning and AI make it possible for restaurants across every segment, from quick service to fine dining, to increase sales, decrease waste, promote menu items and the right time, and engage customers at the exact moment they’re thinking about buying..
Customer Intelligence Amplifies Guest-Centric Approach to Selling Food
As restaurants gain a deeper understanding of their data, it fundamentally changes their approach to food. Previously, brands focused on transaction-based metrics, but data allows for a more guest-centric approach to selling food. Data creates the foundation brands need to find better answers, unlocking opportunities for more dynamic marketing initiatives, more profitable menus, and better product mixes. Machine learning makes it easier to spot these trends and patterns, illuminating data points that typically aren’t visible to the naked eye.
The guest experience has to be top-of-mind for every restaurant because competition is more fierce than ever before. In many cases, data augments and amplifies traditional customer service restaurants have been relying on for decades.
Those who adopt a guest-centric approach to food will continue to excel, combining traditional customer service with the personalization afforded by their data. This partnership will redefine the restaurant experience for guests in-store and online, increase revenues for restaurants, and create a stronger bond between the two.