There have never been more ways for restaurants to capture information about customers. Yet, restaurateurs often struggle to keep pace with marketing trends. Yes, data is more abundant than ever, but data is only a tool. It isn’t useful in its own right. It needs to be used in a way that has utility for restaurateurs before it can take your restaurant to new heights.
Better Tools, Higher Standards
While data-gathering methods have never been more prevalent, with that comes loftier expectations from potential customers. Customers expect a seamless experience when interacting with a brand. It is an implicit agreement between customers and sellers, one that leaves sellers, in this case restaurateurs, with more tools at their disposal but a higher bar to achieve customer satisfaction.
That paradigm shift has made what marketers call digital transformation key. Simply put, digital transformation is upgrading technology to make the most of the information available to you, allowing you to drive sales how you see fit by satisfying customers. Digital transformation is paramount when keeping pace with customer experience (CX) trends.
In order to transition from many of the outmoded systems many restaurants use to sleeker, more innovation solutions, restaurateurs need to follow a few basic steps.
A Methodical Approach
First, restaurant owners should take stock of their existing systems. Doing so will allow you to get a handle on what data you are already gathering. Some systems — such as a point-of-sale or loyalty programs — are boiler-plate and already gather some data. So, before upgrading software and leveraging it to maximize your restaurant’s potential, you need to know what you already have.
Next, once you know what you're working with, a system upgrade — a customer data platform to gather data and a marketing platform to digest it — will likely be necessary. A new platform will give you insight into what your data is telling you and allow you to make the best use of it. Before that can happen, however, you will need to consolidate and “clean” your data. That means eliminating duplicate data and ensuring the formatting is homogenized, creating a single source of truth for every customer.
A dialed in data stack empowers businesses to personalize customer experience. These days, restaurants are updating across more channels than ever. With the rise of online ordering through apps, as well as digital loyalty or rewards programs, restaurants can now cast a wide net to gather information about customer preferences.
Once your data is consolidated and cleaned, it will be ready to go on your new platform. The next step is to determine what you want to get out of your data. Making use of the latest features of cutting-edge technology, you can slice data virtually any way you want, both on a micro and macro level.
Not only can you tailor a customer’s experience to their preferences — offering them incentives based on their behavior — but you can create lookalike audiences to capture potential customers with similar sensibilities, almost all of which can be automated. But, doing so requires an assessment of what you want to achieve. Once you understand what avenues you want to pursue, sophisticated recommendations chart a path to success, taking you through the next steps to achieve optimal results.
Putting it all in Place
Only you can decide what direction is best for your restaurant — what kinds of customers you want, what you need to know about them and so forth. Putting new systems in place can be a bit arduous for restaurateurs lacking tech savvy. Fortunately, most modern tech stack systems have knowledgeable partners to show you the ropes.
A partner can give you the lay of the land for software that might seem foreign, ensuring you can tap the potential of its features. Then, based on your preferences, they can orient you to how to achieve those results, illustrating what is possible and how to go about it.
With sophistication comes complexity. That might seem overwhelming if you aren’t steeped in technology. Luckily, many partners also provide ongoing support to troubleshoot issues. With such a plethora of benefits, there is really no reason to put off undertaking a digital transformation.