Restaurant Communication Strategy: Now Serving APIs

The restaurant business is a notoriously tough one, and now more than ever. Not only are patrons selective about their food and dining experiences, but they're also selective about their overall experience. When it comes to dining out, consumers demand the same highly personalized, immediate omnichannel communication that they've come to expect from any other business — and a forward-thinking restaurant communication strategy serves it up just how they like it.

Man seated at a table in a cafe that employees a strong restaurant communication strategy.
If you want your restaurant communication strategy to yield increased guest satisfaction and loyalty, make sure to integrate the power of APIs.

Major chains aren't the only ones getting innovative. High-end establishments and mom-and-pop cafés alike are looking to revamp their restaurant communication strategy, and they're investing in technology that will help them do it — from cloud point-of-sale and CRM tools to customer-facing websites and apps to marketing automation software and social media.

Simply put, they're collecting a lot of data and communicating with guests across a variety of channels. The next step is collecting insights from all that data then using it to better engage patrons.

That's where communications APIs come in, enabling contextual communications across channels and in real time. Here are the benefits of using APIs in the restaurant business.

Restaurant Communication Strategy for Improved Guest Service

Communications APIs enable developers to embed real-time communication features — voice, text, chat, video — into a restaurant's website, mobile app, and social media pages. This way, guests can initiate an interaction from any channel without needing to switch between apps or visit different websites.

For example, say a busy mom wants to place a to-go dinner order from her smartphone. She's downloaded the restaurant's app, reviewed the menu, and has an order in mind. However, with a family of picky eaters, there are lots of special instructions — no mustard on this burger, no onions on another, and side salad instead of fries with this meal. The app enables her to specify all these changes using a variety of drop-down menus — which is easy enough on a computer or tablet, but tedious on a smartphone screen.

To further complicate things, her son is allergic to dairy and she needs to confirm it's not used in the hamburger buns. Now she must dig deeper in the app to find the list of allergens in menu items. If the app leverages a chat or SMS API, her problem is solved. She can simply chat or text with a customer service rep (or chatbot), ask about the ingredients, then place her customized order.

SMS and chat APIs are also great ways for restaurants to take reservations, let guests know when tables are ready, answer questions about the menu, and respond to any other inquiries or requests.

There are many benefits of APIs for guest service, not just in terms of digital communication but also operational efficiencies. Take, for example, the soggy fries problem — a customer places an order online or in app, but the restaurant has no idea when he'll pick it up. By the time he arrives, the fries are soggy and cold. The solution: layering communications APIs and GPS APIs into the app to create a geofence. This way, the restaurant gets an alert when the customer is a few miles away and can cook and bag his order so he gets hot, fresh food.

It's clear that communications APIs are the special ingredient that no savvy restaurant should leave off their menu.

Greater Guest Engagement

When communications APIs are part of a robust communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) solution, they can often be integrated with other cloud-based business solutions, including marketing automation platforms. This enables restaurants to send personalized, real-time marketing messages based on guest behavior or even location.

For example, the patron of a local pizza parlor only comes in on Tuesdays. Maybe he's a creature of habit, or maybe his job only brings him to that area of town on Tuesdays. Regardless, the restaurant probably wouldn't have noticed this pattern — but because the guest uses the restaurant's app and has enabled location services, the technology does notice. As a result, it triggers an SMS alert to his phone every Tuesday morning with special offers.

Another patron also uses the app with location services. Her schedule isn't as predictable as the first guest's, but the restaurant knows when she's nearby — and because they've put geofences around competitors' locations, they know when she's near one of those as well. What better time to send her a text message with a today-only special offer that draws her to their restaurant?

Heightened Guest Loyalty

Pairing great guest service with engaging digital experiences already goes a long way toward earning loyalty. But as any restaurateur knows, diners can be fickle and new restaurants open every day, so it doesn't hurt to reward and encourage that loyalty.

By integrating communications APIs with CRM or point-of-sale systems, restaurants can launch mobile loyalty programs that send guests updates and discounts based on recent purchases. Restaurants can also create special SMS campaigns for frequent patrons who want regular communication about daily lunch menus, happy hour discounts, and special events. And to ensure guests stay satisfied (and loyal), SMS surveys are a great way to make people feel valued and to gain priceless insights into how to keep them coming back for more.

It's clear that communications APIs are the special ingredient that no savvy restaurant should leave off their menu.

Want to learn more about how APIs can boost your restaurant communication strategy? Learn more about Vonage retail solutions.

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