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Why your hospitality business needs a single customer view

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Written by: Stefan Ferguson
A client once told me that one loyal customer is worth twelve newcomers. That wasn’t hyperbole. He’d actually looked at the figures. As I’m sure you’re already aware, a customer that loves your restaurant does much more than spend a lot of money there. They become an ambassador for your brand, bringing in family members, friends, dates, and colleagues – more and more opportunities for you to turn newcomers into loyal fans.

Everything you do as a hospitality business should be carried out with this goal in mind. The attention you receive from a loyal fan base compounds exponentially to sky-rocket your notoriety and your bottom line. It’s how those tiny hipster venues go from street-food vans to multi-location chains seemingly overnight.

What gets measured gets managed

Understanding critical principles like the brand-ambassador effect starts with knowledge of how your customers behave. A rigorous data architecture can provide you with the insight you need to manage marketing actions in response to customer behaviour, giving you a platform for more effective engagement. The challenge for hospitality businesses – as opposed to, for example, e-commerce – is that you have a more complex customer lifecycle involving multiple real-world and digital touchpoints. How do you reconcile this diverse portfolio of brand interactions? This is where the single customer view comes in. Your SCV allows you to link web interactions, app engagement, and point of sale in a unified data network. You’ll know exactly to what extent real-world engagement powers online interaction and vice versa. You’ll know immediately whether that email offer you sent out actually got customers in the door, or whether your free wifi really is getting more people to follow your Instagram profile. All these data points create a broad picture of customer actions which you can use to capitalise on and incentivise behavioural opportunities.

Bringing the brand experience home

Getting a customer in the door is a battle won, but it’s not the most crucial fight. The real battle for your customer’s attention begins when they step out of your door. That’s the moment when they decide whether their hospitality experience was worth talking about. An SCV gives you valuable insight into what happens after the customer leaves. Digital interactions like Instagram shots, Facebook check-ins, and Twitter shout-outs can be signs of a positive customer experience and help you to target potential brand ambassadors with specific offers. If you’re seeing a negative social media backlash from a customer experience, an SCV can help you to track and manage negative exposure with damage control strategies. Either way, the SCV gives you a platform to extend the life of your brand interaction, helping customers to bring the brand home with them. On a more abstract level, your SCV helps you to understand your brand impact in a holistic sense. After all, a relationship isn’t made up of one single moment – it’s the culmination of a thousand small impressions that add up to one powerful feeling. Whether the feeling for your customers is one of enthusiasm, antipathy, or just plain ambivalence, your single customer view can help you understand why.