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Boost your Restaurant’s Customer Experience by using Data

The experience customers have at your restaurant will determine if they will come again and if they will tell their friends. There is a lot of customer data available to collect, analyze, and act upon. The goal is to boost the customer experience so that your restaurant succeeds. Read on to review how to see success by using data to improve your customer experience. If you need funds to invest in your small business, restaurant financing is a great place to start.

Happy Restaurant customers

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience (CX) is the impression that a business leaves with their customers, which impacts how they think of the business across every stage of their journey. The ultimate customer experience is the culmination of the customer’s experience with the brand at multiple touchpoints; the most important being people and the product/service.

Why does Customer Experience matter for Restaurants?

Restaurants should strive to provide the best customer experience to customers at every single opportunity. Even something as simple as remembering a customer’s name or their seating preferences will make them feel valued and lead to repeated visits. 

McDonald’s recently spent $300 Million to acquire Dynamic Yield. One of this company’s specialties is using data to personalize customer experience. McDonald’s can up-sell effectively by using data like weather, traffic and trending menu items. This puts the choice of what else to purchase into the customer’s hands and creates a stress-free experience.

Furthermore, small and medium-sized restaurants can certainly collect large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data. If put to proper use, this data can enable restaurants to provide the best customer experience to their guests. So how can you use this data in your restaurant?

First Impressions are Everything

The host/hostess is the first person that guests interact with once they enter a restaurant. You can compile customer data using the POS System, surveys or through other means on their first visit. Then, the next time the customer comes in, the host/hostess can use that data to personalize their approach toward each guest. Does the guest need a handicap seat? Are they visiting on a day of personal significance? The information that is gathered over time, can be stored and accessed from the CRM software using the customer’s unique identification number (which should ideally be his/her phone number). 

Reduce your Restaurant’s Wait Times

One of the worst experiences customers can have at a restaurant is having to wait longer than they have to. Whether it is for a table, or for the food to arrive, if the wait is the reason someone is “hangry”, they are less likely to come back or recommend. Your team can optimize queues and reduce waiting time by using data like, surveillance videos and transactional data. Before beginning to use data for queue management, restaurant owners should determine their service level targets. They should ideally be the right balance between your desire to deliver quality service and the cost you are willing to bear to achieve your goal.

After determining service level targets, begin tracking actual service times using the POS and surveillance tech. Ensure than the queue management system you’re using integrates surveillance videos. Surveillance videos are the best way to inspect what might be causing delays in service or why a customer has left. It also can protect your staff against any toxic accusations.

Are your customers waiting because of a staffing issue? Restaurants can maintain optimal staff levels using data with a time and attendance system. This can tell you what the staffing levels were for a period in the past. By tracking staff, you can plan ahead. Another way to eliminate bad wait time reviews, is to allow customers to place orders online (while also earning loyalty points) before they arrive at the restaurant.

Serving wine on restaurant patio

“I’m a Regular”

If someone is a regular visitor at your restaurant, they likely expect you to give them a little extra attention. Have they previously communicated a food allergy? If your staff keeps record of this, the customer won’t have to remember. This can reduce waste on take-backs to the kitchen and improve the regular’s likelihood to recommend your restaurant to a friend. A good restaurant CRM software will collect data, including; birthdays, anniversaries, and favorite items from the menu. The next time they visit your restaurant, surprise them with a complimentary cake or a glass of their favorite wine. These are all ways you can retain customers as well as expand your impact.

CX can Improve Employee Retention!

Qualtric’s 2016 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study revealed that companies that excel at CX have 1.5 times as many engaged employees as compared to companies that don’t. If the customers aren’t complaining and are happy, your staff will have less stress. Since they are happy and engaged, they will feel invested in their respective roles and continue to deliver a great experience to customers.

You can also create a promotable workforce. These can be achieved by using Voice of the Employee (VoE) data. This is the best qualitative data restaurant owners can get. The dining staff are the ones closely interacting with customers each day. They notice flaws in CX that you may have missed and can suggest improvements. Take anonymous surveys to gather employee feedback on CX to identify ways to improve.  Your team is your best CX tool. 

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