Dialogue: The 3rd “D” and key to customer engagement

Published On: February 16, 2022

The 3D Model

In our latest White Paper, The Present and Future of Restaurant Personalization, the discussion around restaurant and customer personalization explores how this industry has evolved and begun to adapt to a new reality: more readily available information on your customers and their behaviors than ever before.

The 3D Model is a tool to help make sense of this new reality and guide your journey down the path towards guest personalization at scale.  Today’s topic is the third and final “D” in our model: Dialogue (Communication).  After customer data has been collected and analyzed and decisioning around what content to use to engage your guests has been completed, the personalized conversation (Dialogue) begins.

Dialogue addresses the how of personalization – delivering marketing and experiences across channels, then feeding that response data back into the customer data platform.  Dialogue is centered around five main elements: Loyalty Programs and Offers, Marketing Communications, Menu Presentation and Pricing, Order Interaction, and Team Member Communications.

Loyalty Programs & Offers

When most restaurants think of personalization, the first thing that comes to mind is personalized offers for loyalty program members. This can be as simple as delivering offers for celebratory dining occasions using birthday and anniversary data, targeting non-delivery members with a free Tuesday night delivery promotion, or serving up a surprise and delight reward to the highest frequency members.

Deeper digital ordering data will also spur personalized acquisition opportunities. Shared digital ordering applications provide the ability to identify non-customers who order similar items from other companies. Third-party delivery platforms are currently best positioned to offer this type of cross-customer marketing, but online ordering and loyalty platforms are poised to deliver the same to their customers soon. For example, a brand with a loyalty program can serve non-members a message stating, “you spent $$ with us last year, and would have earned XX points in rewards if you were a loyalty member.”

Brands that create personalized messages from guest purchasing habits and loyalty/CRM data, with additional data overlay like seasonality, see higher engagement and response rates than those who don’t. Personica clients are generating more offer-driven ROI using basic personalization, like varying the featured image to reflect a frequently ordered item. By gathering more order data on more customers through POS and online order platform integrations, companies can design increasingly customized messages and truly personalized loyalty programs.

Marketing Communications

Not all customer loyalty is built with a loyalty program or discounts. As more guests go digital and restaurants solidify the data connections between online and on-premise experiences, advances like customer identification by name will become commonplace.

Personalized marketing communications, especially across channels, can increase repeat orders, check average, and loyalty when implemented correctly. Using customer data to personalize the image or subject line featured in a marketing campaign is a simple but effective way to serve guests messages that apply to their individual preferences.

Customer response data – open rates, click through rates, etc – can also be used to personalize the marketing channel used to reach out to individual guests. By sending push notifications to heavy app users, emails to those with high open rates, and sms or social media messages to those interacting on their phones allow restaurants to meet the customers where they are. 

It should be stated – a strong content management system and campaign management tool are crucial to personalized marketing communications and their success. By creating and modifying digital content and managing all communication channels in one central place, brands can avoid confusion and over-communication that could drive loyal customers away.

Menu Presentation & Pricing

With digital rapidly becoming the predominant order channel where available, there’s a huge opportunity for brands to personalize menus throughout the ordering process, based on purchase history (including price sensitivity), weather, time of day, etc.  Future menu personalization opportunities may include featuring dynamic menus based on customer order history, time of day, and weather. For example, a guest who usually orders drip coffee but sometimes a latte and an egg sandwich could be shown an egg sandwich and latte combo on a cold morning. A guest who orders lemonade from time to time could be shown a combo featuring lemonade at lunch on a hot day.  New product variations based on detailed customer behavior data are also possible. A guest whose order history includes frequent dairy-free modifications or requests for a gluten-free bun could be automatically offered pre-modified menu items with those dietary needs in mind.  The order process can also employ dynamic pricing and upsells. These might include:

• A guest who frequently orders the same lower-priced sandwich and sides could be shown an opportunity to repeat the order with suggested add-ons – such as a discounted cold beverage or ice cream on a hot day.

• Restaurants can tailor upsells based on an initial order that gives clues to occasion. For example, a guest ordering a whole chicken could see options for sides and drinks, (coleslaw, a gallon of lemonade, etc.) priced based on price sensitivity.

• Rather than being bound to a bi-annual cadence, price increases could occur at guest-level, tailored to individual price sensitivity and frequency. While some of the above examples are in the future, brands can start experimenting today. For a great first step, try varying the initial page of your digital ordering interface by market, based on weather variations and what premium items are selling well. Track your results against a control group, and voila – you’ve dipped your toe into the personalization pool.

Order Interaction

Personalization will of course vary by brand, and personalized order interactions should focus on leveraging data to make customers’ lives easier. By offering guests the option to quickly reorder frequently or recently ordered items, brands can make the online ordering process quicker and easier. Even more impressively, by connecting online order data with on-premise reservation system and POS notes, servers can ask if a guest would like to try the same or similar item to one they ordered online next time they dine on-premise.  It’s important to consider personalization options across all in-person and online channels, including 1st party and 3rd party delivery, drive-through, order through loyalty apps, kiosks, and dine-in with a server. McDonald’s has personalized the drive-thru experience with menu recommendations that increased check size and decreased service times. Regardless of the ordering channel, quick and easy transactions mean more frequent transactions.

Team Member Communication

Most guests still anticipate a hybrid model of interaction with restaurants, alternating between on-premise and online interactions depending on their desired experience. This means connecting the communication customers get from team members to the communication they receive online is crucial to a cohesive brand experience across all touchpoints.  By consolidating all guest data, including reservation information, online and on-premise order history, and reviews on one central data platform, brands can empower their team members to offer personalized communication (greeting guests by name) and recommendations (menu suggestions based on past order history) regardless of order method.

In summary, hopefully you have learned just how important Dialogue is in the mix of gathering Data and Deciding how to use it.  By utilizing the 3D Model you will have a framework that puts you on the path to increased guest personalization at scale, which will drive guest frequency and spend — and enhance your profits.  Reach out to us at hello@personica.com to learn more about how we can help your restaurant business succeed.  We look forward to hearing from you!


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