Personalization is the future of marketing and other consumer-facing industries. This is a move beyond segmentation to one-to-one personalization in real time and, in competitive industries, this could be the key to catching the attention of potential customers.

A recent study showed 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use their personal data to make experiences more relevant. Since loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase, personalization can have a serious impact on restaurant revenue.

Let’s take a look at a few ways restaurants can personalize the dining experience:

Individualize Greetings

Referring to a diner on a first name basis can go a long way in personalizing their experience, according to Fork It. The customer will feel like a VIP, which sets service off on the right foot. Once the customer is seated, wait staff could then offer a glass of the customer’s favorite wine, or even suggest new dishes to try based on that customer’s past orders. These subtle, personalized touches can set the restaurant apart from the competition.

This personalization is possible with guest manager software. Restaurants can collect customers’ names, order history, dining preferences, and more. Armed with this information, servers can provide more insightful menu recommendations to improve the customer dining experience.


Acknowledge Special Events

“Restaurants immediately collect valuable information such as VIP status, [the customer’s] birthday, preferences and much more [with guest manager software]. This information alerts the host to acknowledge a returning guest or recognize their special occasions,” notes Chef Robert Irvine. Without a system to capture and store this information, FOH staff would be unaware of these events when guests come to dine.

When a customer comes into the restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, waiters should recognize it, whether it’s with a complimentary dessert or glass of champagne. Gestures like this can help servers build a personal relationship with their guests. As a bonus, customers may be more likely to visit for another special occasion because they know the servers will take care of them.


Be Attentive

Servers should be aware of which customers prefer more attention, and which like a hands-off approach. This doesn’t necessarily mean paying more attention to every table, but shifting their service approach to match the unique wants and needs of diners.

During service, FOH staff can input customer’s preferences into their unique guest manager profile. This way, the next server assigned to that customer already knows how they like to dine. The goal of this practice is to deliver consistent experiences every time customers visit.

As we’ve mentioned before, consistent customer service is essential to the health of restaurant.


Retain Wait Staff

Truly successful personalization is dependent on a restaurant’s ability to retain its wait staff, because diners will start to recognize and ask for the servers who deliver superior service. If this staff member leaves and a customer’s expectations are not met the next time they visit, the restaurant risks losing that customer too.

The restaurant industry is notorious for employee turnover. In 2015, the hospitality segment experienced a 72.1% turnover rate (compared to 49.5% across all industries). To combat this, restaurants can take advantage of intuitive restaurant software, like a guest manager, that helps employees do their job more effectively.

Research has shown service with a personal touch can boost tips by up to 23%. This can act as an incentive to keep staff around longer: If servers are making more money, it stands to reason that they’ll want to stay at that particular restaurant.


Final Thoughts

Gourmet Marketing notes that recognition, attentiveness, and personalization help to create memorable experiences for the customer.

This means that restaurants need to focus as much on the quality of their service as they do the quality of ingredients and menu items. Ultimately, personalized service can have a serious impact on customer retention and loyalty, which in turn lowers costs and boosts profits.

What tricks do you use to personalize the dining experience?