Date17 January 2020
Thanks to the internet, it's now easier than ever to find a restaurant, check the menu and book a table --- all without ever having to speak to anyone.
For restaurants, this is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it means potential customers, and lots of them! On the other, customer expectations are sky high; they want efficiency and won't tolerate counterintuitive booking journeys.
If your website or app is difficult to navigate, your menus are hard to find or your online booking process is unnecessarily complicated, many of your potential customers will disengage and look elsewhere.
That's why it's essential to evaluate whether you're doing everything you can to engage potential customers when they book a table online. A poor customer booking journey isn't just an inconvenience ---it's a huge barrier to revenue growth.
We've put together this guide so that you can discover the world of possibilities a fully optimised customer booking journey can offer. We'll cover:
The potential of a great booking journey.
An overview of our process.
How we audit your existing journey and identify areas for improvement.
The implementation phase, and keeping everything as low risk as possible.
How we test, optimise and refine your customer journey.
A World Of Possibilities
It's difficult to know where to start when it comes to improving your customer booking journey. You probably know your booking system is counterintuitive, difficult to navigate and costing you revenue, but fixing it seems like a huge challenge.
What's holding you back?
You might have been wanting to view the success of your customer booking journey for a while, but have been unsure about how to start analysing its effectiveness.
Perhaps you've got a rough idea of what you want to achieve, but can't get the in-house expertise to devise and build the right solution.
Maybe you are struggling integrate a range of different technology.
These issues are intimidating but solvable.
A great customer booking experience is possible. We've worked with some of the UK's largest restaurants chains to build customer booking journeys that increase revenue in the long term.
We can help you evaluate your customer booking journey, identifying major pain points and redesigning it to make the user experience smooth, easy-to-use and accessible.
There are plenty of features you can add to your customer journey that make sure your customers come back, time and time again. Why stop at 'yes, we have a table for you' or 'sorry, there are no tables available'?
When you start adding these new features, the improvements in efficiency are huge. Here are a few options:
● Different menu options (e.g. vegetarian, gluten-free).
● Special offers targeted to particular customer preferences.
● Pre-visit messaging.
● Preordering options and deposit-taking for large groups.
● Offering tables at alternative times or nearby locations if you can't fulfil a booking request directly.
● Travel information for branches in the customer's area.
● A 'search by facility' option (for example, wheelchair-accessible restaurants).
By making your customers' lives easier, you'll create a memorable booking experience that will encourage them to keep coming back.
With the right tech, the right processes, and the right knowledge, you don't need to stop at a good customer booking journey: you can create a great one.
Audit: We drill down into your customer booking journey to see what works, what doesn't, and where you're potentially losing revenue.
Recommend: Based on our findings, we come up with a plan of action that will build on what you already have in place and take your customer booking journey to the next level.
Implement: We set these suggestions up for you and carry out a low-impact roll-out, covering user research, design, and development of any new features.
Iterate: We test, test and test again by collecting data at key points in the customer journey, and use this to further optimise your booking journey.
Improving your customer booking journey requires an understanding of exactly what point your customers are currently falling off the journey at, and why.
For example, it could be that you're not offering your customers alternatives if their first choice of table isn't available. If your booking system outright refuses a booking request if it can't fulfil it exactly, you're missing out on a whole chunk of business. People who originally book for 18:30 might be completely fine eating at 18:00 or 19:00, or at 18:30 in the branch in the neighbouring town.
Equally, it could be that that the booking process is too complicated, or you're not offering them the discounts they want or the menu visibility they're looking for.
During the audit stage, we'll collect data from various points in the booking journey to figure out where bookings are stalling. Because we've worked on so many booking journeys, we know what constitutes good metrics so we can provide that vital context.
We'll also learn about what's possible for you, operationally. It's all about finding a balance between the most sparklingly brilliant customer journey in the world and what works in your business. Your customers might love the idea of being able to access menus for different allergies, or order in advance, but if your restaurants aren't set up to deal with that there's little point in considering these options.
Our process also covers what you want to achieve. Some of our clients want to fix elements of the process, whereas others want complex integrations or a complete overhaul.
In short, we get to know your customer booking journey, and we get to know you.
We'll analyse the data we collect to move onto the recommendations stage.
We analyse what you have in place already and figure out how we can build on it.
We're here to get into the details. With experience across many large-scale projects, we have the stats down. Those niche 'industry average' figures that are so useful but so difficult to find (or else gated behind an expensive report subscription that you'd rather not be hit with)... we have them.
We know what your conversion rate could be, and we know how to achieve it. This stage is all about figuring out what would help you exceed these figures.
There's no one-size-fits-all here; the suggestions we make will be tailored specifically to your customer base. Where possible, they'll also be designed to build on your existing customer booking journey, rather than starting completely from scratch.
We'll start with the quick wins and work from there. There's no point in creating something complicated if the basics aren't right. For example, adding in time or location alternatives is an easy way to minimise abandoned booking journeys right away.
From there, it's a case of seeing what works for you. We'll analyse the data to gain an understanding of what will appeal to your customer base. This could include features like:
Different menu options
Interactive maps and travel options
Pre-ordering and deposit-taking
In some cases, we can also customise journeys based on data you keep on specific customers. For example, if you have a pizza deal on and you know that a particular customer eats your pizza often, we could look at a journey that highlights these offers.
Ultimately, what you'll end up with when this stage is complete is a set of recommendations specifically geared towards achieving your commercial objectives.
Once we've decided on a plan of action, we start implementing it as soon as possible.
Unless your circumstances demand it, we don't usually create anything from scratch. Instead, we have several pre-built modules that we can fully customise to your requirements. The outline is there, so all we need to do is tailor it to your business needs---whether that's branding, specific features, integrations or anything else.
We take care of all development and design work, and set up all the analytics we need to track success. We'll also make everything works with your existing technology.
That's right---you won't have to shell out any money replacing software, which is probably a relief. Whatever you have in place already, we can work with it.
Keeping things low impact
We work with what you have to make sure implementation creates minimal friction for your business.
This may involve rolling out the new customer booking journey in a small number of branches first before scaling up. Which branches would be best for this is something we can discuss, too. You might want to choose a branch with a middling footfall while everyone gets used to the new system, or stress test it in a busy city centre location.
We deploy. We test. We tweak. We repeat.
We do as much testing as we can within the project timeframe; this involves collecting data at key points across your customer booking journey.
We'll also A/B test your new booking journey, splitting your online customers into different groups and taking each down a different booking pathway. We can compare a new journey with your original (for real-time data comparison), and also give you a couple of variants on the new customer journey to choose from.
This allows us to refine our knowledge of what makes your customers tick. The data we collect in the audit stage might suggest they'd appreciate a certain feature, like pre-visit messaging, but we'll never know for sure until we test.
A constant process
Again, there's no such thing as too much testing.
This iteration stage isn't a specific period with a definite beginning and ending. Instead, it's a continuous process. Your customer journey can always be refined, even (or perhaps especially) when it's been in place a while, and you have more data to play with.
Ready to find out more?
If you're ready to get ahead of your competitors and turn your customer booking journey into a significant advantage, get in touch with MethodWorx today.
Our experts have worked with restaurant chains for many years on extensive projects looking at all different types of digital journey. We're perfectly placed to find the gaps in your customer booking journey and rework it into a key competitive asset.
To discuss the exciting options for your restaurant chain, get in touch using one of the methods below for a free consultation.