Rob Kitchen, Associate Client Director at Maru/edr reflects on this months’ Consumer Insight & Marketing Conference hosted by CGA Peach and the value of using tools such as Text Analytics and Social Media Listening in today’s Social Media prevalent world. In this second of two parts reflecting on the conference, he discusses the opportunities open to the industry for utilising both customer and staff feedback to drive those all-important surprise and delight experiences.
This month we had the pleasure of sponsoring the CGA Peach Consumer Insight & Marketing Conference which attracted a stellar line-up of big names and brands from the food and drink world.
A key theme was the power and increasing importance of insight to help businesses survive and thrive in a sector with an abundance of both pressure and opportunity.
With the rise of third-party delivery services such as Deliveroo, Amazon Restaurants and UberEATS, it has never been more important for the Out-of-home market to deliver a great experience that encourages people to their bars and restaurants and, importantly, to come back for more.
This is a view shared by sector business leaders who cited third party delivery services as the strongest potential growth format for 2017.
Whilst new technology provides opportunities to impress and increase convenience, it also lowers the barriers to new entrants looking to raise the bar and turn heads meaning that brands will need to keep on their toes to distinguish fad from genuine value add.
Changing the conversation
In our first blog on the conference we observed both the power and limitations of social media based feedback and that whilst comments made in the moment are only part of the story, we know that they can exert significantly positive or destructive power, particularly via social media.
At a time when the experience has become so crucial, it is possible to harness real-time insight to reduce the spread of negativity and even turn what may have started out badly into a positive social media story about how staff turned it around on the spot.
Placing feedback in the hands of staff on the floor in real time and fusing it with what we know about the customer (even where they are at the time), we can empower the frontline to surprise and delight by identifying and reaching out to customers when it matters.
So what’s the next big thing?
Neil Rankin, acclaimed author and owner of the hugely successful Temper in west London, talked about immersion as a great source of learning what works well elsewhere, taking the best bits and producing something new, but also the role of pure instinct and desire to try something different.
Whilst the latter helps explain why we so often struggle to foresee the next big thing before it arrives, there are two excellent readymade sources to expand our own knowledge of what’s out there and adapt these ideas to drive new experiences for customers that play to what they love.
Your own customers represent hundreds if not thousands of eyes and ears on what they love about drinking and dining experiences everywhere from around the corner to around the world.
We encourage our clients to simply ask them what they love and why and we then help them distill the hundreds of ideas that this can generate the actionable ones that will yield the most impact. In the same vein, your frontline staff are an invaluable source for learning how to empower them to deliver the best customer service and experience.
With staff training and investment cited by business leaders as their top 2 areas for increased investment this year, it is imperative that this investment is used to engage staff in the future success of the business in the right way.
Whatever the future holds, the brands that will achieve the most success will be those that fully engage, listen and understand the wants and needs of both their customers and their people to ride out the pressures and seize the right opportunities.
 CGA Business Leaders Survey, January 2017
 CGA Peach Business Leaders Survey 2017