Take Ownership of the Relationship with your Diners
Two steps that measurably improve the diner experience
By Duane Lyons, Restaurant Analytics Practice Leader
December 4, 2019
Americans love to eat out. According to the National Restaurant Association, 9 out of 10 consumers say they like going to restaurants. Moreover, the 2018 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) states that Americans now spend more than half of their food budget on dining out. If you step back and consider restaurants as a retail category, it is one of the few that is growing in the e-commerce age. As a matter of fact, technology such as food delivery is accelerating the growth and taking away from the traditional grocery business.
As consumers spend more money on dining and less on other “brick & mortar” retail categories, it becomes even more important for restaurants to understand who their diners are and how to customize their experiences to improve their dining experience. With nearly a million restaurants in the U.S., if one restaurant does not satisfy the specific needs of a diner-customer, another restaurant will harvest the benefits of doing so.
Savvy restaurant operators understand that the dining experience does not start when the diner walks into the restaurant. It starts whenever they begin deciding where to enjoy their next meal, and includes all their social media interactions between visits.
At Wavicle, we believe this end-to-end dining experience can be measurably enhanced by providing a robust “Diner Profile” with appropriate recommendations to the restaurant staff – or even the diner – at the right time. Unfortunately, the restaurant industry extensively leverages many different solutions, typically SaaS-based, to support different functions. It is not uncommon to see a restaurant using one or more systems for reservations, another for private parties, another for e-gift cards, another as their POS, another for outbound email or SMS messaging, and another for loyalty program administration (if a loyalty program exists). Each of these key systems exist in silos and house valuable data about their diners and their behaviors. Unfortunately, these silos are exactly that – silos that are stand-alone and unintegrated.
Our approach to solving this problem is to deliver value quickly and incrementally. We recommend the following steps if you are a restaurant or restaurant group that relies on an online reservation platform used by many of your diners:
Start by integrating the data about diners and their reservations in your reservation systems, as well as their tickets and transactions in your POS, into a common, secure environment. Advances in technology are making this easier. For example, most of the reservation platforms allow API access for restaurants to access their reservations and diner profiles. Furthermore, despite the plethora of POS platforms used by restaurants, there are also technology solutions to make it easier to access the POS data regardless of the POS system being used.
Leverage the appropriate business logic to link each reservation to one or more POS transactions. Depending on the quality of your data, linking 80%+ of your reservations that checked-in to POS transactions is very doable.
Once this is complete, the really fun stuff that improves the dining experience and increases revenue can begin. Imagine the joy of being able to easily answer the following questions every day:
Who are my best customers, how much do they spend, and what are they eating and drinking?
Who are my diners that have churned?
Which diners are more likely to churn?
If I own multiple restaurants and each has its own reservation system, which diners are frequenting the different restaurants I own?
Thinking ahead, which of my reservations tonight should I pay more attention to? How do I personalize their experience?
Being able to answer the above questions – as well as others – is great, but insight without action has minimal value. As a result, we recommend taking an ‘Insight-to-Action’ approach that empowers you to follow through on your new customer learnings:
The ability to import diner segments and lists (based on the above) into email and SMS messaging tools.
The ability to import diner segments and lists into social media platforms such as Facebook to target specific customers, or a “look alike” audience if your goal is to attract new customers.
Lastly, how are you going to financially measure the financial value of your actions?
At Wavicle, we are passionate about helping restaurants and restaurant groups better understand their diners. We also believe that a better understanding of your diners will drive an improved experience and increased revenue. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your restaurant or restaurant group complete this entire process in a month or less, contact us in the form below.