Everybody likes to feel special. It's an essential human trait. Even the most quiet, reserved person wants to feel important from time to time. While ideas like this are philosophical in nature, savvy business owners can learn a lot from these sentiments, especially when it comes to the customer experience.
The state of the food service industry has changed, and in today’s world, personalisation is the name of the game. But how exactly do you harness a personalised customer experience and use it to improve your venue? The answer is customer relationship management software, otherwise known as CRM.
Today we're going to talk about the benefits of CRM in restaurants, large-scale venues, and the food service/ hospitality industry at large. We'll trace the history of hyper-personalisation in restaurants, cafes, and eateries, focusing on the power and benefits of implementing a CRM platform in your establishment. Without further ado, let's take a look at the benefits of CRM in the restaurant industry.
The rise of personalised service
The food service industry is a customer-facing industry. If you've spent time interacting with your general clientele, you've probably heard the phrase, "The customer is always right." Alternatively, if you've spent time around marketing professionals, you might have heard the phrase, "The customer is king." No matter which statement you ascribe to, the idea is the same: without customers, there would be no food service and hospitality industry.
Customer-centric businesses have always placed the end user at the forefront. Over the last few years, that trend has accelerated exponentially due largely to the high level of market adversity brought on by numerous factors such as COVID, supply chain issues, and general social upheaval.
The general customer mindset has pivoted away from its dependence on exceptional customer service to incorporate tailor-made services and products. In fact, today's definition of personalisation goes far beyond the classic "service with a smile" paradigm. Today's definition is much more dependent on directly engaging your customers and positioning your products or services in a way that speaks to individual demographics.
According to a U.S. study by McKinsey, an incredible 71% of modern customers have to come to expect a personal touch when it comes to that company's goods and services. Even more striking is that 76% of those customers get tangibly upset when customisation is absent. Personalisation is no longer an added bonus, especially in the food service arena; it is par for the course.
If modern sensibility dictates that personalisation is more than just a well-priced meal and a firm handshake, what exactly does that sensibility look like? What are the key aspects in terms of modern personalisation from both a technological and customer-centric standpoint? The technological innovation that drives customer personalisation in the restaurant industry includes:
- QR code menus
- Contactless ordering
- Contactless payment options
- Machine learning
From the perspective of the customer, it means eateries extending things like:
- Loyalty programs
- Birthday incentives
- Stored preferences
Programs like these, which target hyper-localised groups or even the individual themselves, are key drivers for customer retention. This is the level of personalisation that your clientele craves.
According to a recent Forbes article, 85% of all businesses who participated in a worldwide survey (not just in the restaurant industry) feel they do an adequate job of providing personalised content and offers. But there's some disparity: only 60% of their customers feel the same way. So how do you close the gap and offer high-value programs like those listed above to everybody? Through the benefits of CRM in restaurants and eateries.
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The benefits of restaurant CRM
Customer relationship management software has existed as a sales tool for many years. However, many restaurants, cafes, and eateries have historically seen themselves as customer service-oriented enterprises where the focus was on building an exceptional customer experience rather than soliciting new business, garnering repeat business, or focusing on upsells.
The benefits of CRM in cafes, restaurants, and other venues look to change that perception. In reality, the food service and hospitality industries are sales-based enterprises. With that in mind, let's take a look at the benefits menu up close.
In order to set the stage for customer retention and personalisation, you have to get a handle on your day-to-day operations. Fortunately, a high-quality CRM platform can help you achieve that.
Most CRM software allows you to automate rote operational tasks, freeing up your key restaurant personnel for what matters most: customer interaction.
Every establishment has its own critical stakeholders. In the case of a small "mom-and-pop" eatery, that's the owners. For stadiums, arenas, or large-scale chains, it's executive management. And while a CRM benefits everyone in your enterprise, not everyone needs access.
Alternately, not every venue needs the full range of functions that a quality CRM offers. Fortunately, any CRM system worth its salt will offer robust customisation options so that you can tailor your sales and retention strategies directly to your purpose.
As mentioned earlier, there's a philosophical shift occurring in the food service industry. Venues are shifting away from seeing themselves as customer service entities and embracing their true sales potential. This is a huge advantage of CRM in the restaurant environment: it actively helps establishments shift their focus and work more effectively to give their customers the experience they’ve come to expect, winning their loyalty, building relationships, and ultimately increasing revenue.
Real-time data analytics
How can you put a number to personalisation? Quite easily, using CRM technology.
Quality customer relationship management software includes real-time data analytics to help you sort through –and make sense of– the treasure trove of data provided during each customer visit. That data can be parsed in many ways to help you better tailor retention and outreach programs to each specific customer that walks through your door.
Personalisation turns single-visit guests into proponents of your restaurant brand, but it's your food and drinks that drive business in the door in the first place.
In keeping with the idea of the food service industry as sales oriented, a CRM system can help you effectively market to different customer demographics based on a wide range of ultra-specific criteria. Not only that, but the most advanced CRM systems can help you prospect new leads, driving even more business directly through your door.
Customer outreach and retention
Finally, we come full circle. Hands down, the greatest utility that customer relationship management software provides is the ability to offer highly personalised content and offers to your most loyal customers.
Using a CRM, you can create incentives, coupons, discounts, and other loyalty programs that are directly tailored to the individual patron, all with the click of a button. Watch as your repeat business soars, and your business model embraces a sales-based approach.
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Customer satisfaction and growth: finding your way forward
Both the food service and hospitality industries stand poised at the edge of a new era. Everyone from the mom-and-pop diner to the large-scale restaurant chains is viewing their craft as more than just exceptional customer service; it is also an opportunity to garner more business. At the heart of the movement? Personalisation efforts.
Customers have come to expect a personalised experience at their favourite eateries and cafes. The state of modern business is contingent upon it. That's the true benefit of a CRM in the restaurant environment: it helps you sell to new customers while simultaneously taking care of your existing business. Unsure where to start? Let Mr Yum help integrate a CRM into your operations today.