We’re excited to announce we’ve just kicked off a special series on So You Want to Run a Restaurant in partnership with Kristen Hawley, restaurant operations and tech journalist and founder of the weekly technology newsletter Expedite. The three-part podcast series focuses on the top problems facing restaurants and how tech can help solve them.
Our first episode dropped this week, and we dive straight into a conversation about customer data and what to do with it all, with the help of Abhinav Kapur, CEO and co-founder of Bikky. Bikky is a CRM for restaurants that consolidates guests’ data and helps operators put that data to use through targeted marketing campaigns and automatic reports.
“Restaurants have been collecting data for years, ever since online ordering has been around, so you're looking at 15 years,” says Kapur. “Our philosophy is that restaurants just haven't been doing anything with it.”
Now more than ever, however, it’s important to not let that data sit idle, says Kapur, and there are plenty of ways to use it to build better and stronger relationships with your customers.
With the pandemic, we’ve seen a transformational shift in the way restaurants are using data. Early on into COVID, email became a lifeline at a time when restaurants couldn’t safely open their doors, but needed to continue to interact with guests in order to promote delivery offerings and other potential revenue streams.
Pandemic or not, among all the many data sets you can collect, email addresses remain not only one of the simplest, but most useful tools at your disposal, says Kapur. Why? It provides an easy way to communicate and stay top of mind.
“You need to be building relationships with your guests, and the data is just there to help you do that in a more targeted manner,” says Kapur.
Through email, you can easily and effectively to tell your guests who you are. You can use it as a platform to share your values, educate your guests on your food, or put your top five menu items on display. All of this shows customers “why they should be a part of your brand for the long term”, says Kapur.
Where do you start? An easy place is with a set of “welcome” emails. Any time a new guest visits or orders delivery, add them into an automated welcome email campaign.
“We have a templated five-email drip sequence that we give to all of our customers. And it's like, day one, message from the founder, day two, highlighting a menu item. The third email is talking about your values and what you stand for,” says Kapur. “It's a very simple three to five email sequence that every new customer goes through after their first order, and from an impact standpoint, we've seen customers increase their frequency by 50% in the first 60 days.”
How often should you email? It often depends on the restaurant and your brand.
“A more upscale restaurant where the average check size is $80, you don’t have to be emailing that guest every three days because they're not going to come in twice a week,” says Kapur. “You want them coming in once or twice a month, so space the emails seven days apart or 10 days. And then you’ll educate them about your brand, over time, because the goal is ultimately to build that relationship with them and make them feel comfortable coming back.”
For a fast-casual restaurant, it makes sense to increase the email frequency to say, three days apart, since you want customers to return more often.
“They're definitely nuances, but the broader strategy is just to build an email campaign that tells guests about who you are and what you do and why you do it,” says Kapur. “Even if a guest doesn’t open it, you just want to be top of mind.”
The beauty with email is that you can easily send out a message to all your guests, or you can distill your data to create campaigns that target specific customers. So, for example, you can set up automated emails to target those customers who place an order on your restaurant’s online ordering platform, and then for whatever reason switch to GrubHub.
“Send an email automation that says, ‘Hey, why did you go to a third party when you've already ordered direct from us?’,” says Kapur.
And you’re left with a clear metric you can track – how many guests placed their next order on the direct ordering platform?
There are plenty of ways to utilize customer data. And this only scratches the surface of what you can do. While it can feel overwhelming, it’s more important than ever to start using this information to your advantage to draw customers in, and solidify the relationships.
To learn more about customer data, including examples of how other restaurants are using theirs and what Kapur predicts for the future of the customer data world, tune into the full podcast episode on Google, Spotify, or Apple.