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Restaurant brands that provide ordering and payment options in a well-branded, seamless manner will be the ones that see growth in both sales and customer loyalty.

Why Personalization is the Key to Guest Loyalty

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Integrations with customer data help operators to create customized service experiences.
By Erin McPherson June 2019 Technology

One of the biggest advantages to an integrated point of sale system is the ability to accumulate customer data and provide personalized experiences in return.

“Going forward, POS trends will be focused on improving customer experience,” says Lavu CEO Saleem Khatri. “Improvements will come through continued growth in omnichannel ordering and a more intimate knowledge of the customer.”

According to Khatri, restaurant brands that provide ordering and payment options in a well-branded, seamless manner will be the ones that see growth in both sales and customer loyalty.

“Restaurateurs cannot simply meet the new standards of customer demand without implementing new technology that allows them to anticipate and respond to each customer with a tailored experience,” he says.

That tailored experience will in large part be directed by the implementation of smart technology, including artificial intelligence (AI) systems, which can be programmed to track individual customer behaviors and purchase patterns through integration with point of sale and loyalty programs which collect guest information.

“AI, including chatbots and smart interactive voice response (IVR), will become more prominent, as will personalization implementing big data, analytics, and loyalty programs for the end user,” says Che Baird, business development manager for Panasonic. “Systems that are more open ended and adaptable allow services to create natural synergies between solutions that operators are looking for.”

According to Baird, state of the art POS software now empowers customers to personalize their experience based on past orders, loyalty information, and buying patterns. Implementing the power of AI, smart IVR, and speech technologies at ordering points such as the drive-thru and self-service kiosks is helping operators to improve order accuracy and decrease wait times.

“The point of sale can have a direct impact on customer experience—the easier it is, the more accurate and timely servers can be,” says Kevin Yien, product manager for Square for Restaurants. “Customers clearly crave the convenience of ordering apps, but brands can also use them as a marketing channel to attract new customers and engage loyal fans.”

According to Jeremy Julian, chief operating officer for business solutions at CBS Northstar, predictive AI will also be influential in creating supply chain data and using that information to anticipate and identify problems before they cause any business impact.

“The biggest trend we continue to see is the desire to get rid of legacy point of sales and move into the cloud,” Julian says. “This allows operators to align their technology offerings between locations and communicate relevant information across platforms.”

Operators can use customer data for a variety of things, including: identifying the most popular menu items, comparing sales between new and repeat customers, and recognizing busy dayparts in order to predict inventory and scheduling needs. Without customer data operators are unable to get a full understanding of their business. Restaurants are now using data to remain competitive and to build a better understanding of guests.

“Point of sale is now going beyond merely tracking items, descriptions, and prices to the point where it is helping operators to manage staff, run loyalty or gift card programs, and allow customers to place orders themselves using a kiosk,” says Alex Kim, director of operations for UpSolution. “Many operators are now realizing that legacy POS packages are too limited to provide functionalities and features such as data analytics.”

Kim says that over the last several years, the form factor of POS has undergone dramatic change. Mobile platforms are increasingly more powerful, which means that powerful, smart point of sale technology can now fit in a person’s hand to help operate, process, and analyze business performance data.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution,” Kim says. “What may seem intuitive to one operator may not be so intuitive to the next.”

However, as cloud storage and management becomes increasingly more efficient, secure, and budget-friendly, restaurant operators have a unique opportunity to update their business technology—including point of sale—which, according to Kim, helps to make sure everything is in sync.

“Operators are looking for easy ways to collect customer information and automate customer engagement tools,” says Doron Friedman, co-founder and CEO of SpotOn. “They’re looking for intuitive user interfaces so they can cut down on training for staff and guests alike.”

In addition, Friedman says restaurateurs are looking more and more for the ability to perform tasks from their mobile devices—accessing data reports, performing manager approvals, sending marketing campaigns, and monitoring online reviews.

“It all comes down to providing customers with personalized experiences,” says Tim Brown, vice president of solution engineering at Oracle Food and Beverage. “In the future, operators may be able to use technology to recognize a customer’s diet, preferences, and dietary restrictions and then make targeted marketing suggestions based on that information.”

A solid point of sale solution can increase productivity, streamline processes, and collect payment, menu and customer data, as well as analyze and report findings, according to Doyle Ledford, vice president of sales and marketing for PosiFlex.

“POS is no longer just an employee-facing transaction,” he says. “Consumers can now order from anywhere using their laptop, phone, or tablet, or in-house at a self-service kiosk. The convenience factor is only going to get bigger.”

Similarly, operators want access to timely data in order to inform decisions

“Because a cloud model of restaurant management makes data available from anywhere, immediately, it puts data into the hands of people who need it in real time, or in near-real time,” says Chris Siefken, head of technology for Xenial. “This is most helpful for applying the very dynamic and profit-impacting metrics of labor and point of sale data.”

As brands seek to differentiate experiences, they will adopt solutions that help them deliver speedy, accurate, and personalized experiences, according to Siefken.

In addition, machine vision and facial recognition technologies can speed up ordering at self-service kiosks and can be integrated with dynamic menuboards that hyper-personalize upsell opportunities and help to increase average tickets. The insertion of data points such as current weather points and outdoor temperature can provide further customization by promoting the most relevant food and beverage offerings for each customer’s preferences.

“POS is part of a larger conversation related to giving customers the experiences they’re looking for,” Siefken says. “This, alongside cost pressures, are forcing operators and their technology teams to tackle significant transformation at an unprecedented pace.”

Khatri says that data and analytics also help operators to address the core challenges of cutting costs and increasing revenue. The more data restaurant leaders can get, the more they can analyze where they’re making money, where they’re losing money, who their customers are, and when they need to make changes to business models or service offerings. As operators learn more about their customers, restaurant guests will see an experience targeted directly toward them.

“With improved POS solutions, and their ability to provide customers with the opportunities to order the way they want, overall experience is better,” says Kris Bartel, chief business development officer for Zivelo. “When customers feel more certain their order will be correct, they tend to have a more positive and relaxed experience overall.”