Toast Restaurant Blog

Welcome to the best thing since sliced bread: bite-sized restaurant content to inspire, inform, and indulge in. Go ahead, help yourself.

Not sure where to start? Click here.

Join our community of 25,000+ restaurant professionals.
Subscribe today for daily tips and insights on restaurant trends.

Restaurant Technology Trends: 3 Ways CRM is Impacting Hospitality

Posted by Greg Hong on 8/25/16 9:00 AM in Restaurant Technology

4 minute read Print

restaurant crm strategies

Restaurant kiosks, handheld tablets, online ordering, digital gift cards, data reporting - whether you're ready or not, technology is officially a huge part of the restaurant industry. 

Technology has had a profound impact on the way people connect, relate, and interact with one another. Now that almost everything we do — from forming romantic relationships to operating in the workplace — relies heavily on technology, dining is frequently viewed as one of the last remaining forms of live entertainment, revolving around conversation and connection with others.

But over the past few years, restaurants have begun to adopt a more tech-savvy approach.

Most commonly, restaurants have used technology to manage inventory, money, staff, and sometimes tables. While the idea of great hospitality and customer relationship management (CRM) is not new — this is the crux of the restaurant business, after all — many restaurant owners, GMs, reservationists, and wait staff still rely on memory or pen and paper to keep notes on loyal diners and deepen relationships.

But tech advances in CRM for restaurants are now beginning to revolutionize this process. If guests are using technology and putting themselves out there, savvy restaurateurs would be smart to also use tech to get to know their guests.

Using Restaurant CRM to Understand Your Customers

A CRM system can be the tool to propel any restaurant from run-of-the-mill eatery to beloved establishment in the eyes of customers. Look at digital loyalty programs, for example. These call on restaurant owners to give occasional rewards and freebies to frequent guests, allowing restaurateurs to uncover groundbreaking data from their base of customers.

CRM data allows restaurant owners and managers to understand (a) the way their customers behave collectively and (b) the patterns, preferences, and information on specific customers. Once both of these vital areas are understood, more effective and justifiable decisions can be made based on customers. 

While some traditionalists argue that technology is at odds with hospitality, restaurants are increasingly adopting innovations in tech to build relationships and deliver an elevated guest experience in a number of ways.

Here are three ways restaurant technology will allow you to better understand your customers.

1) You’ll Deliver a More Personalized Touch

crm ideas for restaurantsIn order for restaurants to deliver high levels of hospitality, better CRM technology is essential. In this context, restaurant technology is helping - not interfering - with the guest experience.

This is especially true for the new wave of diners who are used to living their lives online and practically expect a more customized level of service. Restaurants reap the benefits of investing in technology by being able to build relationships before the customer even walks in the door. Important information like birthdays, anniversaries, allergies, favorite drinks, and more can be sent easily to relevant members of a restaurant’s staff so the chef can see the allergy notes and the server knows to address any special occasions.

Because preferences, birthdays, and relationships are often public and on display for the world to see (thanks, Facebook), the level of hospitality a restaurant can deliver is significantly elevated. If millennials don’t have to remind anyone that it’s their birthday — from close companions to childhood friends they haven’t spoken to in fifteen years — restaurants should have that information at their fingertips as well. 

2) You’ll Treat Even New Guests Like Regulars

Restaurant Marketing GuideA good CRM system takes public information and known guest preferences and aggregates them. This way, restaurants can greet guests warmly and deliver a more tailored experience. These systems, like Reserve for Restaurants, enable new staff to build solid relationships with guests who’ve been visiting the restaurant for years.

Restaurant groups and franchises especially benefit from an enterprise CRM system. With data collected from a regional, statewide, or even nationwide group of visitors, restaurant executives make their location feel just like home for a newcomer in that location. Because of the CRM data collected across all locations, restaurants can greet guests who have frequented other locations warmly and better understand their full collection of regulars.

3) New Hires Will Get Up To Speed Much More Quickly

A more formal CRM system has always been a practice at the high-end of the industry. Restaurants who pride themselves on intimate experiences are known to Google their guests or keep detailed notecards on visitors, their families, past orders, and preferences. Tech innovation makes this level of service more manageable and more affordable for all types of restaurants.

Now, new hires can get up to speed quickly, inheriting information and the likes and dislikes of customers in the click of a button. Without the information collected from the CRM, that insight otherwise may have gotten lost in the shuffle or kept in the maitre’d’s head. The likely result of these personalized touches? Guests will keep coming back over and over again, because even though the staff may change, their experience may not.

Restaurant Technology and Your Customers

Technology already plays such a huge role in the day to day operations of any business, especially a restaurant that is firing on all cylinders at all times. Going forward, it’s safe to bet that technology will also change one of the most integral parts of hospitality — how restaurants interact with their diners and get to know them on a personal level.

Although this may come off as a hindrance to customer interactions, restaurant technology can be implemented into operations in a way that will revolutionize your customer relationship management. 

restaurant-technology-report

toast restaurant management blog

Written by: Greg Hong

Greg Hong is the CEO, co-Founder and board director of Reserve, a dining concierge service that makes every part of the dining experience better. Hong is an accomplished writer and speaker, and is an authority on restaurant technology, mobile payment, small business issues and solutions, entrepreneurship and millennials. He comments on the restaurant industry on Reserve's blog, where you can also find restaurant recommendations and dining insights.


Leave a comment today. 

DISCLAIMER: All of the information contained on this site (the “Content”) is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal, accounting, tax, career or other professional advice. The Content is provided “as-is” without any warranty of any kind express or implied, including without limitation any warranty as to the accuracy, quality, timeliness, or completeness of the Content, or fitness for a particular purpose; Toast assumes no liability for your use of, or reference to the Content. By accessing this site, you acknowledge and agree that: (a) there may be delays in updating, omissions, or inaccuracies in the Content, (b) the Content should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal advisors, (c) you should not perform any act or make any omission on the basis of any Content without first seeking appropriate legal or professional advice on the particular facts or circumstances at issue and (d) you are solely responsible for your compliance with all applicable laws. If you do not agree with these terms you may not access or use the site or Content.