Harnessing the power of the wired guest through Customer Experience Management

Food services and social media are a natural fit. Going out to a restaurant or bar has always been a social activity, even if it’s a quick lunch with co-workers. And diners have taken to social media enthusiastically, taking pictures of their meals before they dig in, racing to check each other into Facebook places, and competing for the position of Mayor of their favorite restaurants on Foursquare.  Savvy restaurateurs have made social media part of their marketing plans as well, taking advantage of Facebook and Twitter to promote their brands and keep in touch with their customers.

There is a down side to the rapid adoption of social media and mobile technology, of course. It’s just as easy for a dissatisfied customer to broadcast a negative experience to their peers as it is for them to praise you for a positive one. Consumers are dining out less, yet their expectations remain high. A negative post or tweet may persist and remain searchable for some time, influencing the decisions of others who are researching where to dine this evening.

Customer rescue strategies and experience management

Social media platforms are more than merely broadcast channels, of course; they are places where conversations and discussions happen. The same tools that allow consumers to research brands can also help business owners to find out what is being said about them and act on those reviews. A negative “tweet,” for example, is an opportunity to initiate a dialogue and, ideally, a customer rescue – by letting a customer know you are listening, and have a sincere interest in improving their experience.

The next logical step is to develop a proactive, rather than reactive, approach. It’s important to act quickly, and on a personal level, to win back a negative reviewer. But is there a way to close the barn door before the horse escapes? Can a restaurant owner do anything to help ensure that the messages that get posted online are positive, rather than negative? The goal of Customer Experience Management (CEM) is precisely that – to use customer feedback in a measured and strategic fashion to fine-tune business practices and generate increased customer loyalty.

Successfully applied, a CEM program can help you to:

  • Capture customer feedback in a timely fashion and identify rescue candidates early in the process
  • Analyze and quantify feedback so that it can inform adjustments to your operations
  • Improve your customers’ brand experiences to encourage repeat business and advocacy
  • Motivate brand advocates to recommend your restaurant to their peers through social media

In a sense, a CEM program takes what the social media-aware business owner does on a one-to-one basis with a single negative Twitter review and applies it at the brand level. Inviting feedback at point of sale can help diffuse and reverse the effects of a negative brand experience, while at the same time providing you with an opportunity to turn negative feedback into constructive criticism – which then can be leveraged to improve the brand experience for all your customers tomorrow.

Learn more about Customer Experience Management solutions for the Food Services industry.

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