This post is the first of a four-part series co-written by Privy and On The Spot Systems to share some of the easiest and smartest ways to get new customers and turn them into repeat customers. 

In the daily grind of the business world sometimes it's easy to take certain 'best practices' for granted, so we've written a series of articles to review some of the key value-adding benefits of connecting online promotions, guest segments and guest satisfaction surveys within food service and restaurant businesses.

They will cover four steps: 

1. The Power of an Email Address

Every restaurant wants customer email addresses - but why?  Naturally, to reach out to consumers to inspire them to come visit your restaurant more frequently. 

The truth is, people don't want to hear from your restaurant unless you have something relevant to say. 

So, it's up to restaurants to understand what each individual customer appreciates so the messaging can be tailored to them. If your restaurant is able to do this successfully, you'll notice a un-take in your foot-traffic from customers returning more frequently.

But how do you collect email addresses and understand what each person behind the email address wants to hear?

2. Promotions Earn Email Addresses

Here's the short answer: offer a promotion in exchange for an email address and track where that person redeems the promotion.  People now do research online before they choose where to eat - that's why restaurants have websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and more.  Use these platforms to your advantage!  Use them to collect consumer contact information so you can own relationships with customers and get them to come back when you want, not only when they simply feel like it.

3. Surveys Earn Email Addresses

Are you already running mobile surveys to understand how your customers enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) your in-store experience? It's the same as a comment card, except for the 21st century.

Take the opportunity to ask customers for their email address within your mobile survey so you can both learn how to improve your in-store experience and collect information on a customer including the context of which location they visited, what meals they like to eat out, and what they liked or didn't like about your food.

4. You Must Track!

It's important that you track this information so you can begin to link important details about your customers, such as their contact information, what menu items they like, and which location they prefer to visit most frequently. This will enable you to effectively manage Step 2: Create strong customer segments.

If you don't have the most advanced customer tracking across all of your web properties and POS systems, don't worry!  There are other ways to segment your customers accurately and effectively.

5. Easy Tracking Tips

First, don't be overwhelmed by all the ways you could track customers; in reality there are only two ways you need to consider segmenting your audience of customers. One way is demographically - age, gender, zip code, etc. The other is contextually - are they a repeat customer? A first time visitor? Did someone refer them?

Do they follow you on social media or do they glance at your website from time to time?  Did they come on a whim or did they decide to visit because of an offer they received? The common denominator between all of these attributes is that your customers can answer these questions for you, even if your analytics tracking capabilities can't. 

Feeling overwhelmed? Try starting out by choosing just one demographic attribute and one contextual attribute. For example, say you want to segment customers based on their location for demographics, and based on if they are a repeat customer from a contextual standpoint. Many advanced mobile survey tools can automatically pinpoint the gps location of the respondent and the store location being critiqued, so you don't have to worry about that aspect.

And, if your POS analytics capabilities aren't set up to track metrics like repeat customers, that's okay. To make sure your data is completely fool-proof, don't be afraid to do the obvious- just ask! Simply build questions like 'How often do you visit our restaurant?' into your mobile customer satisfaction survey and email club signup form.

Once you collect contact information from various sources and build context around those customers, you will be able to create smart segments.

For more articles by Julie Ricchuito, please click here.



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