Who are your customers, and what exactly do they want? The fundamentals of what makes a business either work or fail ultimately come down to this one question, which can be explored by looking at the customer journey as a whole, as well as personalisation.
Both the customer journey and personalisation boils down to understanding all the interactions your customers are having with your business. It can be likened to your wait staff asking “how’s your meal?”, but looking at the broader picture.
By knowing about every aspect of your customer journey, and how customers are interacting with your business, you can begin to build a bigger picture of what they ultimately want from you.
If you own a restaurant and are looking to improve the understanding between your business and your customer base, here are some of the best places to start.
Understanding The Customer Journey
The customer journey is not just the time from when they walk into your restaurant until they pay and then walk out again. Instead, the customer journey covers every interaction your restaurant has with your patrons.
For example, searching for your website – how easy is the process, and are they able to book online? Then there’s dining in your restaurant, what type of experience are they having? Are your wait staff attentive and knowledgeable about your food? The customer journey also extends to following up with them afterwards, in the form of feedback forms or marketing.
If you really want to get into the mindset of your customers, then it’s important to understand their overall journey and how your business fits in with each of these milestones. After all, if there’s a weak link the chain, it can pull everything else down too.
Personalise The Experience
Restaurants are not simply a place to eat. From catch-ups to celebrations, they provide the backdrop to some of our most memorable events throughout our lives.
If a customer calls to book a table or room for a special event, it’s the perfect time to incorporate personalisation. After all, it’s a real honour to be chosen as the place to celebrate a milestone event in someone’s life.
As management, you should look to incorporate personal touches into the event. What steps can you take to make the experience unique, versus what a chain restaurant would do?
Personalisation is also about tailoring your business to meet a particular trend or demand. For example, when you walk into a coffee shop – do they simply sell tea and coffee, or have they thought about caffeine-free options too?
The more people are able to personalise the experience, the more your business model is able to fit into their needs. Remember, happy customers, equals return customers!
Anticipating Their Needs
Starting with your restaurant, how comfortable is it for people to spend long periods of time in? If it’s a draughty old building with rigid seating, it’s probably not going to be great for spending hours catching up with friends. However, throwing some armchairs in and putting a log fire in there changes things completely. This is anticipating your customer’s needs.
If service is a little slow, what steps can you take to prevent customers from becoming irate? Serving free drinks or even having fresh bread on the table, can act as a natural buffer to this situation. After all, there’s nothing worse than waiting hours for food when you are hungry. Dealing with this scenario effectively before it becomes an issue, is also part of anticipating the needs of the customer.
In essence, the more you get into the mindset of your restaurant clientele, the more you can anticipate what steps need to be taken to reach them. Looking at steps that can be taken to minimise issues throughout all stages of your customer experience is what will set you apart from your competitors.
Take Inspiration From Other Service Industries
Think about the experience you have on a plane, and how the airline and flight attendants anticipate your every need. For example, passengers are hungry and thirsty. So snacks, food and drinks are regularly served. On-board entertainment is provided to keep you from becoming bored or restless.
There’s also a real emphasis on meeting the needs of the passengers, provided by visible service at regular intervals. Someone has thought of all these things in advance, and as a reaction to previous feedback.
While your restaurant might be located firmly on solid ground rather than 30,000ft up, that doesn’t mean to say you can’t follow the same approach when it comes to anticipating your customer’s needs. It starts by asking what could be improved on, and what steps do you need to take to do this?
Customer service doesn’t stop when your patrons leave the building. By building a clear picture of your customer insights, you can stay on top of their experiences, good and bad.
Getting to the heart of what your customer wants is the core of any business. At Stampede, our software has the exact same ethos.
Start your journey to understand your customers’ journey, as well as learning how to personalise your business based on real-time analytical data.