Why you should be using the closure period to understand your customer data and prepare for business success

Every business has data it can use to boost sales, enhance its brand, and increase loyalty and trust with its customers.

Your customer data is a goldmine. No matter what size your business, whether you run a pub, boutique hotel or restaurant, you’re amassing valuable data every day. Collecting key information, storing it and using it effectively means that, when the customer walks out of your door, they aren’t gone forever. Businesses that use their data properly have the means to bring those customers back again and again.

You don’t need to be a big business or technological whiz to make the most of your data. Just a little organization, common sense, and a dash of affordable tech. Follow the five steps below and you’ll be on the road to being a data-powered business.

1. Think about customers, rather than transactions

While a transaction is technically data, what you really need to know is the customer who makes it. In hospitality, you and your team are already thinking about customers – so why not tap into that hive mind? Get everyone together and ask some simple questions:

Who are your ideal customers?
Where do they live?
How old are they?
Why do they come to you, and when?

Think about what you really want to know about them, and how you envisage contacting them after they’ve already bought from you. These kinds of customer-focused insights are key.

2. Collect key information

The very best time to collect customer data is when they are making a purchase from you. It’s at this point that you need to put your tech to work. The simpler the better – a tablet on the bar is ideal. The most basic info you need to gather is a name and email address – then you’ve got them on your mailing list.

Feeling more ambitious? A telephone number, postcode and date of birth will avoid duplicates and combine the details with their list of transactions – then you’re really cooking with gas.

3. Organise your information

At the very simplest level, your customer information might be stored on a spreadsheet, which is then uploaded onto email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp. However, as your business grows, you’re going to need a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Microsoft Dynamics 365 has a Small Business option that works alongside all your other Office software and costs around £50 per month.

Once you have a CRM and are adding data to it routinely, then you can really dive into your customer lists and ask all the questions you were asking at the start. You’ll find your mind starts ticking over, thinking up promotions, offers and strategies. Things like personalised birthday promotions are always a welcome and timely offer.

4. Build loyalty and offer incentives

Keep focused on the customer and how you can offer them value. If people love your brand, they’ll want to repeatedly come back to your business and tell others about you. Reward your most loyal customers – especially those who give you data – and ensure they get access to your best offers.

Loyalty cards and schemes are great, but stamped cards are flimsy and easily lost. Look for something low-cost for you but high value to your customer and provide them with that goodie in return for their custom. It might be a free massage, a cocktail, or a month’s access to the pool. Try to think of something with a bit of ‘wow’ factor that gets people talking.

5. Get partnering

Partnerships in the hospitality sector can work really well, i.e. hotels teamed with bars, restaurants or nightclubs. Partnering can be a great benefit to both businesses and can lead to cross-referrals and increased business.

Once you know who your customers really are, then you’re better equipped to look for other businesses serving the same demographic. It’s also a great chance to learn together and gain further insights, taking us back to where we started – thinking about customers.

Thinking about CRM for your bar, club, or events venue? Check out Cloud9 Hospitality to streamline your operations and provide unbeatable customer experiences.
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