CRM, BBQ style

BBQ ribsI’m not normally one to carry on about my experiences with fast casual dining establishments, even though we frequent them as a by-product of having two children who are connoisseurs of the category. The food quality can be variable, as can the staff attention to the customers.

But that’s all changed after Saturday’s experience at Famous Dave’s restaurant, where I had a terrific customer experience which doubled as a strong CRM effort on the part of the chain.

My wife and I had the luxury of a few minutes without the kids and, while driving by the restaurant, decided we should stop for lunch. We’d never been to the restaurant, although we’ve driven past the place every weekend for the past several years.

On entry, we were greeted by a smiling young man who welcomed us and held the door. His co-worker, equally welcoming, promptly seated us and informed us that our server would be with us shortly.

The CRM magic started when Chris came by our booth.

As we were welcomed, Chris asked a simple question that we’ve been asked hundreds of times before. “Have you ever been to Famous Dave’s?” A simple qualifying question, but it’s one that apparently kicked off a customer activation process after we answered “no.”

Midway through our meal, the restaurant manager stopped by to introduce himself. He asked how the meal was, talked about the fact that Famous Dave’s can cater just about any gathering at short notice (a strong consumer benefit) and provided some take-home literature which was personally signed, a very nice touch. He also gave us a free 14.5 oz bottle of their signature BBQ sauce to take home.

I was impressed that Famous Dave’s saw fit to spend under $1.00–which would be the cost of the bottle of sauce and the printed materials–to welcome us as customers and tell us about the other benefits (quick catering, BBQ sauce) they offered. I was also impressed that the training for the store staff worked as well. The waiter asked us the qualifying question and then relayed that back to the manager quickly for prompt action on his part.

Will we be back? Probably. Did the CRM effort work? Definitely.

Summary and takeaways

  1. Are you qualifying your customers? It’s easy to identify a new customer. Simply ask them or, if online, check the cookies.
  2. Are you making an investment in managing your new customers? It doesn’t take much. The cost to setup a new customer welcome program is minimal at best. The cost of a small welcome gift (which isn’t always necessary) can be made up quite easily over the customer’s lifetime.
  3. Are you building a marketing database? Ensure you’re capturing as much of that customer’s information as makes sense. Use it to enhance the next visit or interaction with the customer.

Have you had an interesting CRM experience recently, good or bad? What organizations do a great job in starting off a customer relationship on the right foot?

Leave a Reply