In their 2018 CX review, Gartner predicted that customer experience would become the key differentiator for 81 percent of businesses in the years to follow. As it turns out, this was an accurate sentiment – customer experience is now the focus for competitive businesses, with many restaurants launching consumer-first strategies that emphasize customer retention and satisfaction.
A critical part of any customer-centric strategy is a CRM tool. CRM programs make retention and engagement both an art and a science, automating many of the processes that keep customers happy and informed. But with so many CRM options on the market, how do you know which one is right for your restaurant?
Let’s take a look at the key CRM requirements you should keep in mind when shopping for a tool.
Essential CRM requirements for best outcomes
CRM tools are plentiful in the digital age. The market for said tools is expected to reach $96.39 billion by 2027, so there’s no shortage of options. But not all CRM tools are created equal – some are better suited for certain businesses than others, and some are lacking in key features.
When looking for a CRM tool, there are a few essential requirements you should keep in mind to ensure the best outcomes for your restaurant.
1. User-friendly and intuitive design
Studies show that 30-60 percent of CRM projects end in failure, which is why it is so crucial to select a CRM tool that is easy to use. An intuitive and user-friendly design will make adoption easier and ensure that your team is actually using the tool to its full potential.
Some red flags to watch out for in this category include:
A steep learning curve: If your team has to spend a lot of time learning how to use the CRM tool, they’re less likely to actually use it.
Complicated navigation: Your team should not be getting lost in the tool’s navigation. If they are, it will only frustrate them and discourage use.
Lack of features: At a minimum, your CRM tool should have features like contact management, lead tracking, and customer profiling. You may struggle to find a CRM that meets all of your needs if it falls short in this area.
Green flags, on the other hand, include a sleek yet simple design that is easy to navigate, as well as a wealth of features that cater to your specific needs.
2. Customizable and scalable
No two restaurants are the same, so it’s important that your CRM tool can be customized to fit your specific needs. Additionally, the tool should be scalable – meaning it can grow with your business.
Some customization features you may want to look for include:
Custom fields and drop-down menus: This will allow you to track the specific data that is important to your business.
Workflows: Customizable workflows help automate tasks and keep your team organized.
Reporting: Reporting features allow you to track your progress and measure the effectiveness of your CRM tool.
Scalability is determined by the CRM’s ability to handle an increasing amount of data as your business grows. Look for a CRM that offers unlimited storage capacity and can easily integrate with other software programs.
For instance, it helps if the tool can integrate with your accounting software, email marketing platform, or social media management tool. This way, you can keep all of your data in one place and streamline your business processes.
3. Robust customer support
No matter how user-friendly and intuitive a CRM tool is, there will inevitably be times when your team needs help using it. That’s why it’s important to select a CRM with robust customer support.
Look for a tool that brags 24/7 support, as you want to be able to get help whenever you need it. Restaurants are fast-paced environments, and you won’t always have time to wait on the phone for hours.
Additionally, the support should be easy to access – ideally, there should be a variety of channels through which you can reach out for help, such as phone, email, and chat.
Avoid CRM tools that claim to have “easy to use” interfaces but offer no customer support. These tools are likely difficult to use and will only frustrate your team.
4. Affordable price tag
A CRM tool is a necessary investment for any business looking to improve its customer experience. However, that doesn’t mean you should break the bank in order to get your hands on one.
There are a variety of affordable CRM tools on the market, so you should be able to find one that fits your budget. Just make sure that the tool offers all of the features you need and is easy to use. Otherwise, you’ll only be wasting your money.
5. Easy team communication
CRM tools should ideally allow you to communicate with other team members within the platform. Team and project management tools are becoming increasingly better at this; for instance, ClickUp allows you to tag team members in comments, so they’re notified whenever you mention them.
There are a number of CRM tools that perform well in this area, so look for one that makes team communication easy. Ask the following questions about any CRM tool you’re considering:
- Can team members easily communicate with each other?
- Is there a messaging system or chat feature?
- Can team members assigned to a task be notified when changes are made to that task?
- Can files and documents be shared between team members?
- Can team members easily share customer feedback and insights with one another?
Of course, there are plenty of team communication apps like Slack that can be integrated with a CRM tool, so don’t feel limited to just CRM tools that offer this feature – but it’s definitely a nice-to-have.
6. Mobile compatibility
Next, you’ll want to look for a CRM tool that works seamlessly between mobile and computer. Choose a tool that offers a good-quality app that is easy to use. This way, you can access your data on the go and make updates wherever you are.
This shouldn’t be difficult to find in the digital age – most CRM tools now offer a mobile app. However, make sure to test out the app before you commit to a tool. Some apps are buggy and difficult to use, which will only frustrate your team.
7. Automated data entry
The last thing you need as a busy restaurant owner is to sink hours of your valuable time into manual data entry. Search for a tool with automated contact syncing and importing. This will save you time and ensure that your data is always up-to-date.
Also make sure that the tool you select can import data from other apps, like calendars and email marketing platforms. This will make data entry a breeze and keep your data organized.
8. Powerful reporting and analysis
One of the most important functions of a CRM tool is its ability to generate reports. Reports allow you to track your progress, measure the effectiveness of your CRM tool, and identify areas for improvement.
Reports should be easy to generate and customizable, so you can track the data that is important to you. Additionally, the reports should be exportable to other software programs, like Excel or PDF. This way, you can easily share your reports with others and create detailed analyses.
This data is essential to building your strategy for customer experience. Make sure the CRM tool you select has the reporting capabilities to help you achieve your goals.
These are eight of the most important CRM requirements to keep in mind when shopping for a tool. By selecting a CRM that meets these requirements, you’ll be well on your way to improving your restaurant’s customer experience.
Finding the right tool for you
With these key CRM requirements in mind, how do you go about finding the right CRM tool for your restaurant?
There are a few key steps:
- Understand your needs. What specific features and capabilities do you need in a CRM tool to help manage your business?
- Do your research. There are many CRM tools on the market, so do your research to find the best one for your needs.
- Try before you buy. Some CRM tools offer free trials or demos, so take advantage of those to see if the tool is a good fit for your business.
Once you’ve found a CRM tool that meets your needs, it’s important to make sure everyone in your restaurant is familiar with how to use it.
The best way to do this is by setting up training sessions for your staff. Make doubly sure everyone is up to speed by providing clear instructions and troubleshooting tips.
CRM tools: Your best options in 2022
If you’re unsure of where to start looking for a CRM tool, these are some of the best CRM tools for restaurants on the market in 2022:
- Eat App is a cloud-based solution that focuses on table and reservation management. It combines guest data with targeted ad campaigns to help you boost bookings and grow your business.
- Popmenu is a great choice for online ordering, with built-in CRM features to help enhance the digital experience.
- Toast was originally a simple POS system, but its integrated CRM capabilities have made it a popular choice for restaurants.
Something that CRM tools often neglect, however, is the collection and resolution of customer complaints. Negative feedback is crucial for growing a restaurant; you need to know where your business is going wrong so that you can fix it.
The solution: Retention360
A good CRM tool should help you to do the following:
- Collect all customer feedback in one place, both positive and negative
- Respond to complaints quickly and effectively
- Resolve issues before they turn into bigger problems
Retention360 is hyperfocused on collecting feedback in the heat of the moment. Rather than simply tidying the customer experience and hoping nothing goes wrong, we work with you to design an effective and lasting solution based on feedback data.
With Retention360, customers can leave feedback in real-time using the Direct Response tool. This means that their experience is fresh in their mind and that you can get to work on resolving their issue straight away. It also ensures greater accuracy in the feedback data you receive.
Plus, we offer a suite of tools to help you take action on that feedback and improve your customer retention rates. These include:
- A ticketing system for managing and resolving complaints
- A social media response tool
- Customer success tools
- Advanced AI text analysis
If you’re interested in seeing how Retention360 can work wonders for your restaurant, try the free demo and test out all the features for yourself. You’ll be able to see how we can help you resolve customer complaints quickly and effectively so that you can focus on what you do best – running your restaurant.