How well do you know me? That’s the question today’s customers put to businesses on a regular basis and it’s a valid one. With so much data available and a willingness of customers to share personal insights in exchange for personalized service, brands that don’t make sure to optimize customer data will flounder.
If anyone still thinks this is an overstatement, consider a query submitted to the New York Times’ “Social Qs” column on March 17:
“In the last six months, I have dined at a particular restaurant about 10 times, including one pricey business dinner and several dates. I usually book my reservations through OpenTable. I’d like to think I’m a regular, but every time I arrive, it’s like starting over. The manager never recognizes me. Shouldn’t OpenTable data let them know a valued customer is coming? Am I being fair?” — Timothy
The response from Philip Galanes, purveyor of answers, basically advised Tim to calm down and take the time to introduce himself to the manager. I take a contrary point of view. Hospitality is built on human connections, but those opportunities can be amplified by leveraging the appropriate tools.
In this month’s cover story, I spoke with Robert Notte, VP of IT for fast-growing fast casual chain, MOD Pizza. The brand’s cloud-based infrastructure has enabled the company to scale quickly (80% of the company’s growth has happened in the last three years). Notte shared with me that one piece of MOD’s success has been the ability to leverage integrations between all the brand’s systems to have a 360-degree view of customers whether they are in-store or using online ordering or delivery.
To achieve that holistic view of guests may require ensuring third parties provide access to data and demanding certain integrations from technology partners. The endgame must be the tactical optimization of data, because the “Timothys” of the world expect it.