Don't get me wrong, I like "gee-wiz" technology and convenience as much as the next guy; but is there an opportunity being overlooked...
"How Restaurants Are Using Technology to Deliver Better Customer Service"
- Carol Tice, Contributor, Forbes, 12/07/12
Outside of the "wolf it down 'cause I'm f'n starving and on the way to a meeting" restaurant experience; my "dining" choices are made, primarily, on the basis of three factors.
1) I've eaten there before, and I like the food
2) I've heard really good things about the place
3) My friend (or friend of a friend) owns and/or cooks there
Each of these are weighted moment to moment by my mood. Each apply to restaurants from my local MacDonald's to that hidden gem in the Village I stumbled into one day because I spent months watching the owners restore rather than renovate a long closed establishment.
Can social embrace these factors?
This speaks to my "mom & pop" argument. I recently put together a package for A&W (which unfortunately, never made it past their damn ADvertising oriented head-hunting 'gate' keeping hiring agency). My proposal suggested my agreement that A&W had a lot of work to do on "first level" social, ie simply getting the A&W message out across the "channel" into the stream as it were...
I also proposed, bravery...
Social affords far more than just another channel down which to 'pump' the continuous drone of the AD driven message. Seeded within' social is the ability to develop a stronger connection with your customers. Mom & pop didn't need the technology but were expert in the use of social long before it became... technology.
Here's what I'd like from a restaurant with respect to "social service". For the most part I get these from the "sole proprietor" establishments I haunt...
• I'd like to know the name of the owner/manger and feel I have some form of access to them to register a complaint, make a suggestion or extend a compliment.
• I'd like a restaurant that appears to keep track of my participation in their service.
I find "spreadsheet driven" coffee cards, coupons and pre-packaged promotions dis-in-genuine for the most part, especially when used by sole proprietor; in those cases, I tell them so, and I usually get my free-coffee/extra falafel sause bump on a pretty regular basis...
There is NO reason why A&W, especially most of those located in smaller urban locations cannot apply a more personal, less systematic, seemingly friendlier tactics used by mom & pop. It requires only commitment, firstly to your customers, secondly to the employees you "carefully" select to service your customers.
My Mom & Pop argument... Look beyond the "AD-pump" channel aspect of social; be brave, ie have enough confidence in your offering to invite relationships, accept comments and complaints. (Social IS CRM and CRM is quickly filtering its way down the economy scale... more on that continuously in 2013).
Certainly... changing your relationship with your employees, a key factor in this model, is NOT easy, but improving your relationship with your customers IS a simple notion, NO? - Listem if we are going to settle on a service economy, why not focus on service, AND why not train and trust our employees to be... friendly. My guess is, given licence to be friendly, they'll be better employees...
Gee-wiz... ain't social simple? (but get over it, social ain't easy), just ask mom & pop.