5 ways to create great restaurant experiences using data


Ankit, well he’s amazing, he’s a server at our local cafe and he has this amazing quality of knowing me, his customer.

I remember the first time I visited his cafe with a friend who’d been there before. Ankit greeted her with a hug and loud “Good morning miss Lynn” as if she was a long lost friend. Then he turned his attention to me anticipating that I’d feel somewhat awkward and greeted me with a sir and some pleasantries to make me feel welcome. He showed us to our seats and before we’d even sat down he’d know Lynn’s coffee order and without a menu started guessing what type of coffee connoisseur I was. He rattled off a few options, when my body language through a subtle nod suggested he got the right one and belted “Cappuccino it is Mr Nick” to reinforce our new found connection.

Now whenever I visit Ankit’s cafe I get that special customer experience, my order is known before I’m seated or at least guessed a couple of times even though I’m a creature of habit and he’s got a high chance of getting it right. The important thing here I’ve come to realise, is how this consistent experience makes me feel. As a consumer he just knows me, he knows my name, he knows my taste and it makes me feel like I matter to him.

This got me thinking about why aren’t there more Ankit’s in the world, particularly in such high touch industries like hospitality. Or better yet, imagine if the experience Ankit created could be matched with some data that could help more servers to be like Ankit.

What if Ankit knew more than just your name and order? What if he knew how loyal you actually were, by looking at your lifetime value. Or if he knew that it was a slow start to the days’ takings and initiate some cross selling or upselling with a cheeky statement like: “why not take some scones home for the kids sir?”. Imagine if we could equip other servers to be just like Ankit with the right data at the right time in the palm of their hand.

So we looked into this and found there are 5 things that you could do today with your business data to create better customer experiences in your hospitality environment.

1) Create new customers

Digital marketing platforms like Google AdWords are quite sophisticated these days in that you can geo-target (geographically target) consumers within a certain distance of your business. If you combine this with existing customer data you can create offers specifically related to the customers desire i.e. give them a discount on their next flat-white order if they swing by in the next two hours.

2) Create memorable restaurant experiences

Having friendly, happy and attentive staff is the most important element of creating a great customer experience for restaurant guests, according to a study by Deloitte,

We’ve all been there, eagerly trying to get the server’s attention so we can place our order before succumbing to a caffeine-induced coma.

Empowering teams to use data should be a starting block for equipping them to build rapport with guests. Capturing simple information such as a full name, the last time they visited and what they’ve previously ordered gets them on the front foot to make recommendations, suggest accompanying beverages and be more attentive to their needs. Perhaps even serving you your regular coffee before you’ve sat down?

3) Have the right team for the right occasion

You have an event in your area and you need to make sure that you have the best team on the floor to enhance the event experience. Using a combination of Google search, historical sales data and your rostering solutions ensures you’ve got visibility of potential peak times from the event. This in turn gets your team and stock aligned to ensure you don’t disappoint customers when they can’t get what they want.

4) Less waste, more profit

30-40% of food from your restaurant likely ends up as waste. This is a significant impact on your bottom-line and never mind the perception of the sustainably conscious consumer that walks into your restaurant every day. Using data to predict future customer behaviour can ensure better planning around your menu items and reduce wastage while increase profitability.

5) Make sense of it all

Your business already has a significant amount of data, you should be using solutions for POS, accounting, payroll, rostering and you might be using tools for loyalty and reservations. All of these hold customer data. The challenge is using this information to know your customer better or create that great restaurant experience.

And we get it, you’re just a small business owner, one of the 7 in 10 restaurants or cafes that is a single unit operator. Data is for the ‘big guys’ and besides there’s no simple way for you to use this. Even though you’ve got all the technology in-place, right?

Not anymore. Tools like Aider make access to this data an “every moment” occurrence. The mobile app simply connects to your business tools and allows you to ask questions from your data. Now Ankit can easily be equipped more so than before by getting information on events, weather, sales, campaign effectiveness right from the palm of his hand.

By Nick Niblett