There’s nothing people enjoy more than a good meal with friends and family. And, as a restauranteur, this means there’s a real opportunity to deliver a memorable dining experience they will cherish., But there’s also the chance to do the opposite. After all, there’s nothing worse for a guest than being “hangry” and dissatisfied with the service you’ve received.
Fortunately, there’s lots you can do to prevent this — not least, invest in some innovative technology to ensure your restaurant operates smoothly and presents its best self to your customers.
This digital order and pay technology is currently revolutionizing the hospitality industry. Broadly speaking, tech innovations are transforming restaurants’ sales cycles from ad-hoc to streamlined and optimized. For example, customer experience tools can show you how to improve sales cycles, as well as your customer service.
You can do this by making it personal with:
- customer data
- delivering a smooth and consistent dining experience
- ensuring streamlined customer service.
Tech can help with all of the above!
You can streamline your customers’ experience by implementing pay-at-table systems or ensure streamlined customer service and a consistent dining experience with a POS system and online table reservations. It really boils down to making your customers feel valued and wanted. This is where automation and technology can help.
By introducing these elements, all stages of the sale cycle will run like a well-oiled machine. You’ll be able to find leads, connect with them, have productive conversations, and convert them into sales more successfully than ever.
Here are just a few of the ways technology can help your business.
Making it personal
A meal is often an intimate experience, whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or Friday night takeaway for one. It’s personal, and everyone has their likes and dislikes. So, why treat your guests as a collective and not as individuals?
Consider that, in a recent study outlined in the graph below, 80% of consumers surveyed said that personally relevant, branded content positively influenced how they felt about a business.
This may seem like a lot of extra work, but if you know how to wield your customer data like a pro, it could save you time when deciding how to improve the dining experience.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing that can replace the personal touch of a server. But by combining excellent customer service with customer data, you can personalize a diner’s experience and making it even more memorable and enjoyable.
This is where AI comes in handy. You can use customer experience analytics to collect, process, and provide insights into your data. There are so many touchpoints where customers give their information in a restaurant, such as your reservations system and POS.
Touchpoints: the specific moments (points) that your customer comes in contact with your brand or experience.
Vital data points from these systems can be entered into sales apps or customer relationship managers to paint a picture of each customer and their journey. When you discern buying patterns, high-value customers, and key demographics and their needs, you can provide a more personalized experience.
For example, it can be daunting trying to figure out the best sales app for your restaurant, but it largely depends on the needs of your customers and your business goals. If you map these out, your ideal solution becomes clearer.
You can use surveys to gain insights about customers, either before, during, or after their visits. After all, many people would like a say in a company’s future products or services, and their opinions can easily be gauged using customer feedback surveys.
You can survey customers:
- As part of your booking form
- With a digital survey when the bill is brought over
- In a follow-up email communication or a chat service like Ovation
- A customer books online and is asked about their age and gender. They respond with ‘21, female’.
- This young female guest has a brunch reservation. She and her friends order cocktails, one of your highest-value items.
- By analyzing customer data, you observe this is a pattern among young women brunching in your restaurant, so you host a ‘bottomless brunch event’ to cater to customer interests.
- You promote this to your target demographic via an email newsletter with a booking link.
- Many young women book for this event and have a great time (you provide personalized name cards based on their booking details and a menu of the most popular cocktails based on previous purchases).
- This leads to customer retention as your attendees form a positive association with your brand, leading them to book future celebrations at your restaurant too.
- They post and tag you on social media, increasing your reach and spreading the word about your business.
Without being able to analyze your customers’ data, you’d have missed out on this lucrative opportunity to improve your customers’ experiences and grow your business.
For example, Tartine used the data they collected from us and marketing tools to increase the amount of returning customers who made 20 repeat purchases.
A smooth and consistent dining experience
When your restaurant is understaffed, the quality of food, drinks, and customer service can slip. This means unhappy, and irritated, customers.
Restaurants can be hard to manage as there are so many potential problems to navigate. It’s not just staffing either; supply chain issues can also be challenging. However, the right tech at the right time can keep your customers happy.
Let’s take a look at some example problems and solutions.
The problem: Staffing issues
Digital ordering is one way to stop stretched-thin staff from feeling overworked. It means customers can order and pay for food from an online menu, while the server monitors orders and gets an overview of all tables. This puts customers in the driving seat of their experience so workers can focus on delivering the best service, rather than frantically running between tables.
Venue management software can also be helpful. You can organize everything in one place, from emails to analytics. This means less staff time is wasted on monotonous admin tasks and you decrease burnout, sometimes eliminating it completely.
The problem: Supplier issues
A contract generation tool can be of help here. It’s important to have a good supplier agreement so you know when orders are coming into your restaurant. You don’t want to have to run on a reduced menu or not be able to open.
Creating an effective contract in minutes, where it would otherwise have taken a member of your sales team or management hours, is a time-efficient way to ensure customers can order their favorite dishes every time they come in.
The problem: Losing track of inventory
Multi-channel order management software can be the solution to this particular problem. This allows you to manage your inventory and orders, preventing you from overselling and having to disappoint expectant diners.
You can also create purchase orders with your suppliers, helping prevent miscommunication and providing insights into your previous purchases.
Streamlining customer service
It’s a no-brainer that excellent service will improve your customers’ dining experience, and there are many obvious ways to deliver this, from beautifully presented and delicious food to attentive staff and an easy and convenient booking system.
A lesser-known way is to use a VoIP phone system that integrates with your POS and internal systems. This allows you to:
- Flip calls between devices
- Share your screen on mobile
- Log customer information, reservations, takeaways, deliveries, and other customer communications onto your CRM
Some AI can even transcribe conversations in real-time, ensuring no important customer details are missed. Again, the best VoIP apps will be relative to your needs, as they don’t all provide the same services. So, take your time shopping around for one that suits you.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg. There are countless ways technology can improve customers’ dining experiences, from digital ordering to managing inventory. Many apps have powerful integrations and enhanced processes to support eateries, and these can help effectively move leads and customers through the sales cycle.
Technology has no doubt revolutionized the customer experience already, and the primary way it’s done this is by bringing restaurants closer to their customers. Ironically, it’s often seen as having driven us, as a society, further apart, but in this instance, it can actually pull businesses and customers together.
Use technology to get to know your customers and provide a more personalized, enjoyable, and efficient dining experience, from ordering to marketing. Just remember, consumers want to feel known, heard, and valued, so make sure every sale matters.