Your Data, Your Customers: Personalizing the Restaurant Experience

Knowing who your customers are and what they want is essential to surviving in a volatile restaurant industry. How does one maintain loyalty? How does one offer service that feels genuinely interested in whoever walks in? And how does one do all of this affordably, with the proper ROI?

As always, good data is the key.

We’ve talked before about getting started with Big Data for restaurants, and how having the right point-of-sales system is crucial. You need something that will help get a handle on your restaurant’s Structured Data—that is, the data that is generated from regular operations. The next step is handling Unstructured Data, which involves a lot of variables outside of your business.

This is not to say that Unstructured Data is entirely outside your control. You may not be able to change the weather or what is trending at the moment, but you can respond and engage to these big changes. More importantly, you can engage with customers and a broader audience to boost awareness and excitement about your business.

Who are your customers?

To start, there is the simple matter of demographics: What age groups? What income levels? Are they families or busy professionals or cozy couples? Are they on their way to work afterward, or are they going out on the town?

You’ll know a lot of this in general terms, and you may have even designed your restaurants with a specific group in mind. But until you have exact data, you won’t really understand your customers in depth, and therefore you won’t have as much control and savvy as things shift.

  • All of that just covers who your customers are before they walk in the door.
  • How do they behave inside your restaurant?
  • How long are they sitting at certain tables?
  • Are they ordering at the bar if waiting for a seat?
  • Are they repeat customers?
  • How do they tip?

Finally, what are they saying about your restaurant afterward. This isn’t just about the dreaded Yelp critic docking you points because there wasn’t enough (or too much) ice in the water that the host brought before the server got to them.

  • Are you offering ways for customers to offer feedback without airing grievances on social media?
  • Are you engaging on social media in a way that makes them more likely to sing your praises?
  • Are you tracking what people are saying at all?

Owning and operating a restaurant is already so demanding, it may be hard to find time to invest in monitoring customer feedback, especially negative sniping. Count this as one more reason why getting good systems in place is essential. Responding to and thinking about customers more in depth is part of the business now, so use tools and a point-of-sale system that makes everything else more efficient.

Other tools and apps for customer insights

Restaurant owners should not view their point-of-sale system as a necessary, but ultimately arbitrary utility. You’re in the restaurant business; you know the importance of having the right tools and ingredients. Think of your POS system and your data in the same way.

Having a point-of-sale system that can help you visualize this data or export it to other programs will really help if you want to start being a data-driven business. And today, there really isn’t any other way to do business. Outside the restaurant industry, mom-and-pop shops are increasingly using Business Intelligence (BI) software to improve staffing, inventory management, customer insights and—above all—profit margins. If you have a good POS system, those tools are already at your fingertips.

Big data and scheduling

If you use OpenTable, Yelp, or GrubHub, these kinds of apps are full of customer data. You can analyze some of that for yourself, but in a later post we’ll offer some tips and strategies.

If you are active on social media, managing multiple accounts can be daunting and terribly time-consuming. Maybe you won’t be able to respond to every comment right away, but you can get engagement up with regularly scheduled posts, and that is easier with Social Media management tools, such as Hootsuite and Falcon.

Dinesync built our point-of-sales to act as a great data collection tool to make smart business decisions. Contact us to show you how our system is more than a point-of-sales; it is a restaurant operations system built to analyze data and give insightful information.

Contact Dinesync

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