Do you think you know your customers? Think again. There’s more and more information available to savvy restaurateurs who want to find out everything they can about their guests in order to make more informed decisions about everything from what to put on the menu to how to staff locations.
With all the complex demographic data available, the objective in making big data work for the hospitality industry is to personalize the customer experience. The ability to deliver dynamic marketing content is what differentiates just knowing customers from actually acting on that knowledge.
That’s what a Wi-Fi analytics and triggered marketing platform does. The program gathers key information to get ahead of customer sentiment when they are on the premises and immediately send offers and suggestions to influence purchasing decisions. Deals can also be sent to people both before and after they visit the location and remarket to them just as they are about to exit the restaurant.
With the all-important objectives of increasing visit frequency and retaining churning customers, it’s important to focus on these five things about customers that restaurants really need to know:
1. Who are they?
Restaurants large and small may believe they “know” their customers based on what they order. This metric is easily obtained based on inventory analysis. It stands to reason that if you always run low on chicken, your customers like chicken. However, that number doesn’t give you the full story on who customers really are. Knowing their dining habits and behavior gives a fuller picture that can better target marketing efforts.
2. What do customers order?
Again, the first clue is inventory, but that isn’t the whole story. Are they more likely to order the daily special if you send them a deal for it? Do they like what they ordered? Even if the customer is a tried and true member of the “clean plate club,” it doesn’t mean that they liked the food. Encouraging guests to post reviews of the restaurant gives a more accurate view and can be accomplished as part of an integrated Wi-Fi analytics and automated marketing platform.
3. When do guests visit?
If there are lines out the door between noon and 2, lunchtime is your most popular visit time. But, sometimes it’s not that obvious. Restaurants that have peaks and valleys throughout the day need to drill down on this information. Real-time observation through a Wi-Fi analytics dashboard gives immediate, actionable data that restaurants can use for triggering deals at the optimal time of day. It also takes some of the guesswork out of scheduling staff.
4. How long do patrons stay?
Dwell time—or the amount of time a particular customer stays on premise—offers a framework for triggering deals to get them to spend more time and money at the location. For example, a customer profile, collected by a Wi-Fi analytics program, might show a particular patron stays at a café for two hours and spends $5 on coffee. Trigger a deal for a muffin while that guest is still on the premises and chances are good they’ll spend another $3. Send them a deal for coffee and a muffin for the next day, and you better the odds that the customer returns.
5 . Why do customers come back?
How many customers are repeat visitors and how many are first timers? Are they using the deals you send? Sharing them on social media? Writing reviews of your restaurant? Knowing who your customer is and their behavior means you can target them individually with what is most likely to gain their loyalty.
Knowing the customer is the first step. Reaching them comes next. Ninety percent of consumers keep their mobile phones with them at all times, so a marketing automation platform that triggers direct communication that grabs customers’ attention while they’re in the restaurant actually drives social media interaction and promotes retention after they leave.
Learning more about restaurant guests means first becoming educated on Wi-Fi analytics and automated marketing, but the basics are relatively simple. Customers are encouraged to register for in-restaurant Wi-Fi, which is both a value-add service for customers and an asset to hospitality marketing and operations. Data is collected whether the consumer logs in or not, and the platform is able to interact with a customer who does not have the store or restaurant’s mobile app installed. The platform is also able to automate customers’ onboarding to third-party applications, such as loyalty programs and mobile apps.
Triggered deals are sent using advanced segmentation based upon demographics, presence analytics, and purchasing behavior. Acting on actual customer behavior, the platform automates one-time, repeating, and triggering promotions that align with individuals’ dining behavior.
The more restauranteurs know about their customers, the more effective they can be in their marketing efforts. Advanced tracking metrics provided through Wi-Fi analytics are changing the way restaurants interact with their customers; it’s all about knowing more about the customer and using that data to drive success.
William R. Wilson is the CEO of Bloom Intelligence, a software and managed services company that provides data analytics and marketing automation tools to restaurants and retail brick and mortar locations. With real-time information on who is visiting their locations, how often and for how long, restaurants and retailers gain groundbreaking tools to engage and delight their customers. The company uses mobile technology, big data, and location analytics to provide valuable business insights to independent stores and restaurants, national chains, and franchises.