Online restaurant experiences matter more than ever, as consumers − and potential customers − spend much of their time online, not only ordering online but also researching new restaurants, checking menus and reading and posting reviews.
In the past two years, Indianapolis-based Cunningham Restaurant Group(CRG)’s use of customer-facing technology, has “evolved immensely,” said Carissa Newton, Director of Marketing at Cunningham Restaurant Group
Newton, who joined CRG in 2018, identified some bottlenecks. The company’s Aloha POS, she says “does come with some barriers for us... For example, my email marketing was limited because I didn’t have a direct link into our loyalty database of our guests.”[Updating existing POS systems is on trend. According to HT's 2021 POS Software Trends report, 65% of restaurants plan to add new functionality/modules to their current POS software this year.]
When she arrived at CRG, Newton witnessed how the company responded to customer reviews on social media. “It was a very manual process prior to my arrival,” she explained. “Our team was going out to the internet, gathering all the reviews, putting them into a spreadsheet and then sharing them with the stakeholders at the various restaurants. They might go to that individual platform – Yelp, Google, OpenTable – and then respond.” But there wasn’t a consistent process for responding to reviews. And the process – monitoring, tracking and responding – was a time hog. “Marketing team members would spend the better part of a day cut and pasting reviews into an Excel spreadsheet,” Newton explained.
“Reviews were appreciated but often not viewed with a seriousness,” Newton said about her early days at CRG. In addition to the highly manual and hit-or-miss response to customer reviews, the restaurant was using secret shopper programs for guest feedback.