The Changing Tastes report on the UK casual dining sector by Deloitte writes:
“The increasing use of digital technology is providing challenges and opportunities to casual dining operators, impacting the full “customer journey” as well as business operations.”
This summary reflects our experiences. Never before has there been so much possibility to engage with customers. Whilst this is a great opportunity there are risks:
In a climate of Brexit, high wages, less loyalty and increasing business rates, the pressure on restaurants to make the most of digital technology is high.
Start with the single customer view
In the catering industry, customer data helps you understand what your customers want. This can shape your value proposition and give you the information to build effective marketing campaigns.
Imagine if you could know exactly when every customer preferred eating, what their average spend was or what might attract them to eat at times when you are desperate to increase bookings.
Most catering businesses are just guessing – they push out marketing emails or advertise and hope people turn up. If the restaurant is empty (or full), they don’t necessarily know why.
In a business where one or two bad weeks can have a seriously negative impact isn’t it better to understand these trends in more detail?
We work for huge multinational brands helping them use data to answer some of these questions, and in this article I’m going to talk about the importance of a concept called the single customer view.
It’s a simple idea but hard to execute. Let’s start by looking at what a single customer view is and then a few key ways it can help your business.
Single customer view: The capability to capture every time a customer engages with your business in one record, enabling you to build a detailed view of that customer’s behaviour.
Why is the single customer view so important?
Most restaurants don’t have a clear single customer view – they have a lot of customer data, but it isn’t integrated.
The data normally sits in different silos – one customer might interact with the business across the website, through an app, at the till, on Wi-Fi and through social media. This will generate a large amount of data that could build a sophisticated view of the customer.
However, in most businesses this data is greatly devalued by being kept in different silos, and if it is centralised in a database there is often duplication of customer records.
Duplications are highly problematic.
They make it difficult to track customer behaviour, work out what communications a customer has opted into and group customers into specific segments for marketing.
Develop a single customer view and open up a world of opportunity
We focus heavily on helping our clients build a single customer view (I’ll talk about the benefits in a minute), because this is fundamental to opening up the many opportunities to use data.
Using Event-Stream, we start by capturing every customer interaction from all digital channels in our bespoke middleware. Once the data is collected in its most raw form, it can be assigned to one specific customer.
Assigning data to a customer requires a key so every touchpoint can be matched to a single user. This can theoretically be anything, but it must allow the touchpoint to be matched to a customer – an email address is a standard example.
By capturing three pieces of data for every touchpoint (what happened, when it happened and who instigated the touchpoint), we’re able to create rules that develop the single customer view.
Some modelling and data architecture can be used to make sure that every channel has a key that identifies the user – once this infrastructure is set up you can link the actions of one customer across all channels.
Once you’re able to assign all the rich data you collect to specific customers all of sudden it becomes easier to understand customer behaviour. You are no longer guessing.
Why is this all so important?
In the next article, we’re going to look in more detail about how Event-Stream’s unique approach captures a single customer view – and then uses that data to deliver meaningful business improvements. For now, here are a few major improvements a single customer view can help you begin to make.
Improve customer experience: When customers interact with the business, they are recognised seamlessly so they don’t need to log-in or state new preferences every time. This reduces the friction and makes them more likely to engage with your digital channels.
Build customer understanding: By having more data on customers, you can better understand their preferences and habits. This enables you to utilise more targeted marketing campaigns and content to customers while giving you the data to make broader conclusions about your whole customer cohort.
Highly-targeted campaigns: Understanding your customers on a deeper level provides the opportunity to build out more detailed customer segments. With more granular segments marketing can be laser focused to address key customer needs.
Improve compliance: By having one view of a customer you can easily assess what communication they have opted into and make sure you’re only communicating through those channels. Also, information requests can be easily processed.
James in the Managing Director of Methodworx, a highly-specialised development consultancy that helps hospitality businesses use customer behaviour to make better sales and marketing decisions.