The restaurant industry is experiencing a dizzying amount of change. This includes the ongoing digital transformation marked by the introduction of online ordering, contactless kiosks, and consumer apps, as well as operational innovations like virtual restaurants and kitchen automation.
Amid so many options and opportunities, it can be easy to lose sight of every hospitality business’s reason for being: the guest.
Your guest is the person who connects with something special about your brand. And as the digital landscape of the restaurant industry shifts, it’s more important than ever to understand, engage and listen to your guests.
Fortunately, omnichannel integration offers a way to remain connected to your guest at every touchpoint, without the hassle or additional costs frequently associated with API integrations. With this digital backbone in place, your brand will be prepared to grow and evolve into the future.
TASK President of North America John Laporte shared best practices for maintaining customer experience while introducing innovations in the webinar, “Engaging Your Guest: Using Omni-channel Integration and Guest Personalization.”
Keep reading for key takeaways from this presentation:
- Operational innovations are only a good fit for the brand when they enhance the guest experience. It’s imperative to understand your customer before making changes.
- Loyalty and personalization efforts impact both the top and bottom line of your business, driving increases in average check amount and visit frequency while reducing costs and improving efficiency.
- Omni-channel integration gives brands the ability to advance their digital transformation while maintaining guest engagement throughout the entire customer journey.
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.
Expanding the guest journey beyond the four walls
Guest experiences and expectations are constantly evolving. Consider, for example, how the ideal family car has shifted over the past several years — from a 4-door sedan to a cross-over SUV — and imagine what that might say about the changing needs of the consumer.
For restaurant guests, the timeless expectations of good food and quality service are the bare minimum. Today’s guests expect to interact with your brand outside the four walls of your brick-and-mortar restaurant. This digital experience could include online ordering, contactless pickup, or a loyalty program that offers access to personalized promotions.
Involving a guest in your brand through digital means opens the door for operational innovation — as long as you keep the guest experience as a priority, remain connected and listen to their feedback.
Here are tips for keeping your eye on the guest experience as you consider future changes:
- Resist the temptation to be distracted by secondary goals. For example, picture a fast-casual restaurant that wants to reduce labor costs by introducing digital tableside ordering. A single server can now handle seven tables instead of their usual three. But if that increase in efficiency is met with a drop in guest satisfaction scores, then the innovation is not a good fit for the brand.
- Adapt a process of continual improvement. As you work through your digital transformation, convene a group of people who are connected with your guests. Ask the group to list existing problems and ideate potential solutions. Solicit feedback from guests both before and after you implement a new idea so you can understand if the change is successful.
- Look for opportunities to add digital value. Brands that know their guests well also know what they want or need outside of the typical restaurant services. How can you use your mobile app, for example, to help them reach personal goals in a way that will continue to engage them? If your customers are highly wellness-focused, perhaps you could offer a way to build high-protein meal options from current menu items — or even include a workout program or a goal-tracking capability.
Using personalization and loyalty to drive sales
One of the best ways to engage your guests in innovative changes is through personalization and loyalty efforts.
Research shows that 91% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that recognizes and remembers them — and provides them relevant offers or recommendations based on that information. This shows up in companies like Starbucks, which recently attributed 53% of in-store revenue to their personalized in-app loyalty program.
There’s more good news: personalization done well will drive both average check amount and visit frequency. And that doesn’t even account for the potential for increased word-of-mouth marketing as happy guests share their experience with friends and family.
Here are two TASK case studies demonstrating how loyalty and personalization drive top-line revenue:
- A QSR client was giving away blanket offers to stimulate sales. Unfortunately, the understanding of profitability was compromised because there was no insight into which existing customers would have purchased the products without the special offers. TASK ran three pilot promotions over six weeks to create a model that predicted product preferences. The pilots drove a 9% increase in sales revenue and a 22% increase in guest count.
- A QSR client wanted an order and pay solution that provided a seamless customer experience, operated within their existing tech stack and could be scaled to nearly 3,000 stores. TASK built a mobile app that has generated a 70% increase in average spend compared to counter orders. The app has more than 20 million monthly active users and consistently trends in the top 3 free apps for its category in mobile app stores.
As you consider designing your loyalty offering, be sure to include personalized elements such as:
- Guest preferences
- References to recent orders or guests’ favorite items
- Recognition of personal events such as birthdays or anniversaries
- New digital elements that add value and strengthen the connection between the guest and your brand
How Personalized Offers Can Help Sales
Done well, personalized offers at every level can tick up your customer loyalty by over 50%.
Embrace omnichannel integration to make change
While many loyalty and personalization efforts work to drive top-line sales, restaurants can harness operational innovations to boost bottom-line profits while also improving the guest experience.
Implementing self-service offerings such as kiosks and contactless pickup allows for more digital interaction with the guest. Alternatively, innovations like automated fry stations or setting up a ghost kitchen won’t be as visible to the guest. But it is still important to consider how those changes fit within the overall experience of your brand.
The magic of omnichannel integration allows brands to host their entire digital ecosystem — including POS, online ordering, mobile apps, kiosks, loyalty and beyond — on a single platform. Consolidating your tech stack simplifies digital operations and guarantees that your guest has the same experience with your brand, however they choose to interact.
Even cross-channel tech stacks — achieved by using APIs to link legacy systems — often require large teams to manage. Some legacy vendors charge fees to share information, driving up costs. The result is siloed data and rigid architectures.
By comparison, a digital-first, all-in-one omnichannel platform allows for significant agility. Keeping all of your guest data in a single place makes it easier to execute changes and receive critical feedback from guests as you continue improving their experience.
- Your guest is the reason you are in business. Know who they are and what they expect from you — and pay attention to how their needs change.
- Focus on the guest experience when you implement any changes. Operational innovation must include leveraging your relationship with the guest and receiving their feedback.
- Loyalty and personalization enhance the guest experience and drive average check amounts and guest frequency. Ensure you have the data you need to institute impactful changes.
- An integrated omnichannel platform allows brands to remain connected to the guest at every touchpoint and prepares brands for future guest needs.
This article is based on a webinar hosted by Food News Media. Watch “Engaging Your Guest: Using Omni-channel Integration and Guest Personalization” on-demand.