The restaurant industry is well aware of how important personalized service can be when it comes to building brand loyalty and repeat visits. Restaurants often focus on in-person customer service and personalization as a way to drive increased loyalty and sales.
However, in recent years a majority of customer interactions with brands are now digital. This shift has caused some brands to fall behind as they fail to take advantage of the highly specialized personalization that this digital shift can offer.
By leveraging the tools that digital interactions offer, restaurant brands can deliver increased personalization to customers which improve loyalty and brand awareness but also raise per-transaction amounts.
This trend towards increased personalization also perfectly aligns with customer expectations when interacting with their favorite restaurants. A recent study featured by Insider Intelligence shows that 68% of U.S. adults enjoy personalization features such as customized recommendations based on their previous orders.
In this article, we'll further dive into the role that personalization plays in growing a restaurant brand as well as look into some practical tips to take advantage of this growing trend to help your business stay one step ahead.
At its core, personalization is all about making the customer feel as though their experience has been tailored just for them. Doing this not only encourages brand loyalty but also facilitates easier transactions for the customer by removing a lot of the annoying sticking points that can arise from all-digital interactions.
A perfect example of this is simply remembering the customer's information. A common friction point for digital interactions is asking the customer to input information. Customers find this bothersome, so removing this issue by remembering their name and contact information not only personalizes the experience, it removes a friction point.
The less effort required by the customer, the more likely they are to interact with your brand. This is why online retailers like Amazon or other sites often have "one-click" shopping. This creates a simple personalized experience where a customer knows they can quickly access what they want or need.
The restaurant industry has its own unique set of challenges and goals when looking to increase personalization. Below, we’ll look at key factors relevant to restaurants so they can better respond to the needs and behaviors of their customers.
We touched on this in the earlier section but this is the first step towards providing increased personalization for your brand. Whether your customer is interacting with your business through a website, an app, or even a third-party service, the goal should be to retain enough customer data to make their subsequent visits as easy as possible. Retaining this information is going to set up the foundation for many other personalization methods.
In addition to basic information and payment details, a restaurant will want to present an option for fast reordering based on the history of the customer.
It's best to keep a short list of the most recent orders that customers can immediately access without having to menu-dive through the app or the website.
These reordering options also need to have easy options for quickly modifying them if customers are making a slight change. For example, if a customer wants to swap out one side or topping for another, they should easily be able to do that from the reorder screen.
Without this ability, this type of personalization can quickly turn into a sticking point that frustrates customers and gives them an overall bad experience.
Remember, the key to personalization is creating a frictionless and inviting environment for the customer. All options and strategies should be driven by this goal.
This one may be common, but brands often miss the mark when trying to execute this customization.
Marketing your promotions in a way that is targeted to the customers who will be most receptive to them is vital for a successful campaign. If targeting is set too broadly, this personalization can quickly become impersonal and off-putting, causing customers to feel like the brand doesn't understand them at all.
Ensure that marketing and promotions are as targeted as possible. For example, a customer who orders a shake regularly would be a perfect customer to send a promotion describing a new shake flavor.
In contrast, a customer who always orders your vegetarian burger would probably not be the best fit for sending a promotion about your latest chicken tender basket.
Of course, many products from a single brand will have overlapping appeal and these can be promoted more broadly. But always be aware of products that have selective appeal and avoid cross-promoting those in a way that could make customers feel you don't truly understand their tastes.
If you have menu items that are more selective, such as vegetarian options, keeping these separate from other categories during personalized promotions can help customers feel as though you understand them better.
Restaurant loyalty programs are still a vital way for brands to interact with their customers in a meaningful and personal way.
Loyalty programs not only can increase average check size, but they also drive repeat business and customer lifetime value (CLV). CLV is a metric closely tied to personalized offerings as it tracks average ticket price, repeat visits, and size of the group, among other factors.
Loyalty programs have been shown to dramatically increase CLV for restaurants based on their ability to personalize the experience for each customer.
These programs also allow for much better data collection about customer behavior, which can then be used to further personalize their experience.
Because of this, make sure to always be driving your loyalty program by offering incentives for joining as well as ongoing benefits that are meaningful.
Some examples of this are:
Offer a free item upon signing up and make sure this reward is easily redeemable, if not instantly redeemable. Think of sign-ups as an investment. Each one will increase the total CLV once enrolled in the program.
Instead of just points based on money spent, try to include a reward tier for overall visits. For example, a free item on the customer's tenth visit.
Offer a tier or reward for things like free delivery or other perks. This sort of personalization makes a customer feel as though they are getting special treatment that is above just the discounted offer.
Depending on the amount of data you are able to collect you can consider dynamic pricing or offerings to match fluctuations in demand.
For example, certain days or times may benefit upsells more often than others. If this is the case, try to increase and further target these promotions at these times.
This can also be done on a per-order basis. If certain types of orders, such as those for larger groups, are more receptive to upsells or additional items, make sure customers who regularly place large orders are presented with those opportunities to increase the transaction amount.
This level of data mining may not be possible for all restaurants and loyalty programs. However, simple A/B testing where you try different offerings at different times and measure the results can yield similar insights into what your customers respond to.
There may be some who read these suggestions and feel that perhaps their customers will find this level of personalization intrusive or unwelcome.
While it is true that customers are concerned about how their private data is used in a digital world, in the case of personalization, they overwhelmingly welcome these efforts by their favorite brands.
A recent study by Accenture showed that 83% of customers wanted businesses to understand them better. This includes knowing when a brand should approach them regarding promotions or other marketing efforts.
The key finding in studies such as the one by Accenture is that this type of transaction personalization must make the customer's experience better. If a restaurant can do that, they have achieved the goal of personalization in a way that improves both the customer's experience as well as the profitability of the restaurant.
As restaurants see their orders and interactions increasingly shift to online transactions, it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to keep up.
Running a successful restaurant is much more than just a full-time job, it's a passion and one that leaves little time to keep up with technology trends.
Thankfully, that's where Revel Systems can help. Our platform offers advanced features such as online ordering and self-service kiosks that complement any restaurant. These tools can help you easily navigate and leverage this new digital environment.
Connect with a Revel product expert today to learn how our technology can help your business increase sales and improve customer personalization in ways you never thought possible.