With digital interactions on the rise, restaurant, and hospitality businesses are finding more effective ways to offer personalization through virtual and online channels. Without a doubt, customer behavior is evolving, with digital touchpoints becoming more popular, and demands for easier, quicker, and more personalized experiences growing.
In fact, 71 percent of customers now expect a personalized experience when interacting with a brand – and those expectations vary depending on timing and the channel they are using. For instance, 53 percent of consumers like receiving personalized promotions while they are still shopping, while only 34 percent expect to receive an offer after visiting a website or store.
Analyzing these clues into what customers are looking for and what kind of personalization carries more value will help brands target their efforts and boost their customer retention rates. A personalized experience put into action effectively is one of the best ways to bolster the bottom line. And companies that excel in this space are shown to generate 40 percent more revenue than those that ignore the demand for personalization.
From a bird’s eye view, here is what we know about implementing personalization into your online ordering platform, and what you should be doing to improve your digital customer experience.
How Has the Shift to Mobile Created Personalization Opportunities for Restaurants?
In some ways, the digital transformation of the hospitality industry has reduced the opportunity for brands to form personal, in-person connections with their customers. Fewer face-to-face interactions mean fewer opportunities to engage in that brick-and-mortar fashion with your loyal guests. However, more digital engagement has opened up a much wider door for companies to drive direct engagement and communication at a greater scale and with more consistency using automation tools and customer data.
Everything You Need To Know About Personalized Customer Engagement
Here’s what you need to know right now about personalization and building better relationships with future customers.
Personalization is important to the customer experience because it shows that your brand cares about your guests and that you are committed to developing a long-term relationship with them.
By mapping purchasing behavior and customer habits through data collection across all digital touchpoints, brands can develop valuable insights into what customers like – from menu items to communication styles and marketing approaches, and with better accuracy.
Customer data also allows businesses to segment loyalty members based on personas, types, and predicted interests. However, Kerri Choromanski, Customer Success Manager from TASK Group Plexure Division, cautions businesses to approach segmentation slowly. “It takes a while to understand customers’ motivations. Knowing demographic traits such as age, location, and gender is helpful, of course, but they don’t replace insights into customer behavior, routines, and preferences.”
Personalizing the ordering experience should target the customer’s specific needs, just like your offers should consider their preferred menu items and their lifestyle.
Managing personalization, Kerri emphasizes, is all about playing the long game. “You need to slow down in order to succeed, and take the time to really get to know your customers.”
Taking this approach provides incredible opportunities for restaurants to grow their loyalty, increase their retention rates, and develop a stronger brand image in the market. This process isn’t always straightforward. Companies will need to constantly improve and adjust many different factors of their service, including:
- A flexible, seamless, and branded rewards or loyalty programs
- Delivery and pickup options, such as curb-side service, drive-thru pickups, and third-party providers
- Straightforward and frictionless payment options with any touchpoint
With every new innovation or capability added to your digital ecosystem, it is also essential to thoroughly test its effect on your customer experience. If, for example, you find your cart abandonment rate goes up after implementing a new payment platform, then you should be able to immediately fix that friction point.
The good news is that personalization through your online channels gives your brand the opportunity to, directly and indirectly, gather ongoing and targeted feedback. Digital interactions allow you to communicate constantly with your customers and collect information about how a change is being received from the guest’s perspective. Paying attention to engagement statistics, such as loyalty sign-ups, social media responses, clicks, and transactional data also gives you valuable insight into what is working and what needs to be improved.
“In order for you to develop a great personalized experience, you have to take a holistic approach to building your digital stack. It’s going to take some time and some trial and error, but the result will be well worth the effort,” says Kerri.
What QSRs Should Know About Scaling Online Ordering Apps
QSRs must consider how they can scale and expand their ordering apps with so much potential for growth in the hospitality industry.
Five Ways Restaurants Can Create a Personalized Experience Through Online Ordering
If it’s time for your brand to take further action to build personalization into your digital experience, here are the top five areas to put your focus on first.
1. Loyalty programs
Whether your brand suits a system based on points, spend, engagement, or a combination, it’s important to build in a robust personalization strategy to your loyalty. Because your program will likely be your best resource to collect customer and engagement data, you should prioritize an app or online platform that seamlessly integrates with your POS system and across your entire network’s database.
2. Flexible ordering
Personalization goes further than just your structure and methods for ordering, payment, and delivery. Customers also expect flexible menus that speak to their specific needs and preferences. That might mean offering an easy, streamlined system for substitutions, having better allergy-friendly options, or a tailored ordering experience that predicts add-ons for customers depending on their purchase history.
3. Tailored offers and promotions
This is where you should consider segmenting customer data and building predictive models to understand likely preferences and needs. While it may take some time to build accurate personas, making tailored offers – specific to a customer’s routine, order history, and location – can be one of the best ways to demonstrate relevance and convenience to your guests.
4. Total menu personalization
While an ambitious goal, offering items that can be customized from scratch can help empower your customers to drive their ordering experience. Whether you allow guests to build their own sandwiches, customize their pizza toppings, or create a sushi roll of their own design, there is ample opportunity to add significant value through personalization without sacrificing your margins.
5. Communication at every level
Personalized messaging, whether it’s simply using the customer’s name or referencing previous order decisions, helps give customers the sense of being seen and understood. Personalized updates, notifications, or requests for feedback can be easy-to-implement first steps to growing a fully personalized system for communicating and engaging with your customers. At a more advanced stage, personalized messages can include remembered details about a customer’s preferences, including their go-to menu items, their favorite days of the week to eat out, or even their usual payment method.
Stay Ahead Of The Curve
Customers are quickly adapting to the digital landscape of today’s hospitality industry. Increasing demands for faster, easier methods of communication, payment, ordering, and delivery require businesses to think ahead about how their digital stack will support a changing consumer experience.
This shift also provides huge opportunities for restaurants to ramp up their personalization through online channels and drive an omnichannel approach to loyalty and engagement. Incorporating digital personalization will be a driving force for businesses that stay ahead in this quickly shifting market.