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Blog / July 23, 2021

Hospitality in Online Ordering: An Oxymoron?

Aaron Arizpe Headshot

Aaron Arizpe


When it comes to on-premise restaurant operations, the power of a table touch is undeniable. These personal interactions help your front of house team connect with guests, and provide  great relationship-building opportunities with first-time diners and longtime regulars alike.

But with more and more guest experiences taking place outside the four walls of your venue, how can you extend your unique brand of hospitality to customers who order online? And especially now – when so many teams are short-staffed – how can you cultivate strong relationships with every guest, on- and off-premise?

The answers start and end with guest data, an invaluable resource that can become your hospitality superpower. Keep reading to learn how today’s software solutions empower businesses to collect an unprecedented amount of data, then leverage it to:

  • Acquire more customers and own those direct relationships
  • Engage them with truly personalized experiences
  • Retain your guests and drive repeat business with marketing automation

Until It Becomes a Memory

In today’s “experience economy”, it takes more than just delicious food to keep guests coming back. It’s been reported that one in four Americans would be unwilling to return to a restaurant if their experience wasn’t memorable or special. One in five wouldn’t return if the food recommendations they received didn’t take their dietary restrictions into account. And over 50% of respondents said that a server simply remembering their name from a previous visit would make their experience stand out.

These statistics underscore the critical importance of turning a meal into an experience, and echo the old adage that “sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” So let’s explore how innovative restaurant technology solutions can give operators the necessary tools to create memorable experiences for every guest, on- and off-site.

You Had Me at “Hello”

Sometimes we all want to go where everybody knows your name. That’s because first impressions matter, and there’s something powerful about a personal greeting as a guest approaches the host stand. Luckily, a strong customer relationship management (CRM) system makes it possible to know your takeout and delivery customers just as well.

With a direct online ordering solution, opportunities for data capture open up the moment someone places an order, automatically linking it to an existing client profile, or creating a new one according to their contact information. An integrated point of sale (POS) takes this a step further, pulling up historical data on their past visits and orders, and offering real-time spend tracking.

Show Me That You Know Me

Within the framework of this comprehensive database, client tags empower your staff with a 360° view of every customer. They open up endless opportunities for personalized service and hyper-targeted marketing campaigns proven to increase loyalty. Client tags make it easy to:

  • Quickly identify venue-specific and group-wide regulars
  • Create personalized experiences based on known preferences
  • Segment your client database according to guest behavior
  • Reach these groups with timely, relevant messaging around major holidays, birthdays and more

Customizable auto-tags are even more powerful, allowing you to automatically identify specific customer segments based on various criteria including spend thresholds, visit or order frequency, dietary preferences and more. For instance, if a customer inputs a delivery address with a nearby zip code, you know you’re interacting with a local. If they’re ordering for the third time this month, you’ve just identified an online ordering “regular.”

Better yet, these insights are automatically tied to client profiles, opening up endless opportunities for targeted marketing. So whether you are looking to email the guests who joined you on Mother’s Day to promote your Father’s Day menu, or let your New Year’s Eve party guest list know about your Super Bowl delivery packages, cross-selling has never been easier.

Sentimental Value

Understanding what your customers want is the key to creating exceptional experiences. And since the full scope of a guest interaction doesn’t end when the bill is paid or food is delivered to someone’s doorstep, it’s crucial to keep a constant eye on guest sentiment.

Review management software allows operators to view an aggregated summary of reviews from all of the popular third-party channels, and quickly link them to specific orders or guest profiles. Meanwhile, guest feedback tools automatically send surveys after every order, so you can see this direct feedback first – and fast. Item-level reporting also allows for informed decisions to be made around menu development, helping operators know when to let go of underperformers and introduce new offerings.

Surprise & Delight

Armed with this rich data, operators can not only manage any issues before they escalate; they can proactively surprise and delight their best online ordering customers with personalized touches. Many of the same perks your on-premise regulars may already enjoy – things like birthday cakes, champagne toasts on their anniversary, and so on – are easily transferred to the at-home experience.

Plus, custom auto-tags based on order volume and frequency can help you identify and reward your most loyal online ordering customers by offering them “something for nothing” – low-cost, high-impact extras that can make the difference between meeting guest expectations and exceeding them.

Tech Touch is the New Table Touch

Just as the chef can’t personally deliver every dish to every table, no operator has the time to follow up with every online ordering customer. Fortunately, marketing automation software can help you stay connected with every guest and drive repeat revenue at the same time. Better yet, it provides a scalable solution that grows with your business.

The best marketing automation solutions come with a library of email campaigns proven to drive loyalty.  While the possibilities are just about endless, some common examples include:

  • Re-engagement – Automatically tag and email guests who haven’t visited or ordered in a given period of time, in an effort to bring them back.
  • Late Cancellations & No-Shows – Target truant guests with automated emails to encourage them to re-book.
  • Feedback – Thank guests who leave positive feedback, or buy yourself time to follow up with guests who leave negative feedback.
  • Abandoned Waitlist – Reach out to guests who join your virtual waitlist but don’t get seated, in order to offer them a reservation for next time.
  • Booked/Ordered Through a Third-Party – Convert every customer to book or order directly via your website and owned channels.

Personalized, data-driven and automated, these digital interactions allow you to engage a much larger cross-section of your clientele than ever before. Plus, you can easily track the performance of these marketing promotions based on email clicks, revenue generated, and more. Collectively, these touchpoints empower operators to build and maintain meaningful relationships with their online ordering customers and dine-in guests at the same time.

Whether it’s touching base with your longtime, dine-in regulars or reaching out to the armchair quarterbacks ordering game day delivery at home, staying connected with your clientele with marketing automation software is crucial to cultivating repeat customers. Book a demo today to learn how SevenRooms can set your business up for success with these powerful tools.

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