After COVID-19 forced restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley to stop offering dine-in services, many community members feared they would lose local treasures like Hummus Labs for good. So, local foodies created “SGV Eats,” a local Facebook group that helps businesses connect with customers.
“Without the SGV Eats Facebook page, I probably would have shut my doors already,” Joseph Badaro of Hummus Labs told ABC7.
The group boasts over 31,000 members and is seen by many businesses as one of their only lifelines. Badaro said group members account for 75% of his business.
And while stories like this are hardly new to many restaurant owners, it does illustrate the importance of keeping a well-oiled client relationship management (CRM) system.
CRM has never been more important for restaurants. Prior to the pandemic, research showed restaurants survived on just 30% of their clientele. Since its arrival, it has only driven that number down considerably, forcing businesses to find creative avenues of maximizing their per-customer earnings.
To that end, many restaurants turned to social media. It’s a low-cost platform that helps businesses communicate personally with their customers, build loyalty, and research their market. Social media also offers businesses the ability to target their marketing campaigns to maximize their impact.
But, social media is just one communication channel among many and doesn’t always give the most complete view of a customer. On the other side, a lot of CRM systems do well to describe the customer but don’t offer a way of contacting them.
That’s why Facebook’s acquisition of Kustomer, an omnichannel CRM software company, spells big changes are ahead for restaurant CRM systems. This partnership will help restaurants use the data they collect from every transaction to understand who their ideal customer is and how to acquire them without breaking the bank.
Combine Data Collection with Personal Communication
While CRMs offer small businesses a wealth of knowledge about their customers, many systems also carry a heavy price tag. The sticker price for products like Salesforce’s Sales Cloud 360 can be too much for restaurants struggling to get customers in the door. Worse still, those that can afford the price are left to communicate with the customer on their own.
This is where the Facebook/Kustomer partnership is set to benefit restaurants the most—giving small businesses the ability to define and contact their ideal customer.
Facebook effectively serves as a CRM system for many small restaurants, even if they don’t realize it. The platform gives users access to catalogs of data on everything from engagement rates to demographics and customer geography. It is essentially a one-stop-shop for small business data solutions.
Seamless Customer Contact
In a statement, Facebook said its goal for the acquisition is simple: “to give businesses access to best-in-class tools that deliver excellent service and support.”
First impressions are everything for businesses, a truth that’s become more prevalent during the pandemic. Many businesses have learned the importance of connecting with customers digitally. More than ever, a business’ digital communication channels impact customer experience, which can hinder data collection and analytics if that communication is unappealing.
Facebook has done its part to help restaurants since the pandemic began. The company started a Small Business Grant Program and made several updates to its platform including allowing restaurants to upload entire menus to their profile and stream digital video advertisements.
According to Modern Restaurant Management, 49% of customers find out about a restaurant from Facebook. But, Facebook doesn’t integrate with SMS, email, and other important communication channels.
For small businesses who rely on Facebook, this means they need to split their attention between multiple channels to keep customers updated. Large corporations often use a ticketing system to organize customer inquiries. However, this can lead to an issue being resolved in different ways depending on which department receives the inquiry.
Kustomer seamlessly integrates all of a business’ communication channels into a single-screen experience, allowing customers to communicate with a single business representative no matter what channel they use.
With digital transactions experiencing ten years’ growth in three months, according to estimates by McKinsey, restaurants must learn to adapt new ways of communicating with and acquiring customers. CRM systems offer restaurants a viable way of identifying their ideal customer to make marketing campaigns more effective. However, many systems are too expensive for small businesses that are struggling to maintain revenue during the pandemic. Social media offers restaurants data similar to CRM systems, particularly Facebook. The company’s acquisition of Kustomer will allow small restaurants to remain competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace.