AI platform predicts which customers are at risk of leaving and helps make them stay.

The average restaurant loses 30–40 percent of its best guests every year. And yet, tools available in the market today only allow restaurant marketers to be reactive by identifying guests that have already churned and trying to win them back. According to Mat Todtenkopf, director of product at Incentivio, “as you can imagine, this has a very low chance of success, historically between 3–5 percent. We wanted to reinvent what churn management looks like for the industry by predicting guests that would stop visiting before their behavior actually changed. Our data shows that targeting at-risk guests is 4–10 times more effective than targeting guests once they have already churned.”

The operative word for Incentivio, the only fully automated intelligence-driven guest engagement platform for restaurants and virtual kitchens, is indeed incentive—giving existing guests reasons to stay and thereby avoiding churn.

After close to a year of research, development, and testing, Incentivio launched the churn management feature. Powered by artificial intelligence, it leverages 600 different types of data, tens of millions of transactions, and millions of guest accounts to automatically predict at-risk guests with 97 percent accuracy. Restaurants can identify outliers and adjust operations and digital strategy using the built-in marketing suite—with zero manual intervention.

In conjunction with these very specific AI and machine learning algorithms, Incentivio also developed a Guest Journey dashboard that automatically segments guests into Strangers, Rookies, Regulars, Loyalists, Whales, Sliders, or Churned, to identify guests during their restaurant journey. The dashboard also details how much revenue is currently at risk and how much has been recovered over time, as well as time series graphs showing how many customers are in each segment, providing quantified, actionable insight into a restaurant’s best guests and marketing effectiveness.

John Pepper, CEO and co-founder of Boston-headquartered restaurant Boloco—serving up burrito-centric bold Mexican flavors—knows firsthand the benefits of acting on Incentivio’s data findings. 

“Prior to Incentivio, we could only identify best guests with respect to number of visits and dollars spent,” Pepper says. “And the only way we could track how best guests reacted to our offerings was to do highly customized and complicated data analysis—usually through outside consultants—which wasn’t practical or affordable. Incentivio has put these critical capabilities conveniently into a single platform. For the first time, we are able to automatically segment customers into smaller and more distinct groups and communicate accordingly.” 

The Guest Journey dashboard works in tandem with the data-driven marketing suite to automatically send marketing campaigns for each guest segment. Each of these segments has optional targeting rules for when restaurant operators want to send out a Message, Offer, Loyalty Offer, or Survey. If restaurant operators wanted to send all of their “Sliders” an Offer to get them back in the door before they churn, they could. This can be done without wasting money by offering the discount to customers who weren’t going to churn. Restaurant operators can also go back to the dashboard and review time series graphs showing how many customers they had in each segment over time to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

“Customers—including me—are tired of receiving the same promotions over and over again. Incentivio is making our efforts to reach guests with relevant offerings far more enticing depending on where they are in their Boloco journey,” says Pepper. “The biggest ‘aha’ Incentivio has spelled out for us in recent months is not only how many of our customers have already churned but how many are in danger of churning and that we can still do something about it.” 

As such, Boloco has targeted 768 customers on the brink of churn. “The benefits of 768 consumers moving to Boloco Regular or perhaps even Loyalist status isn’t linear, and Incentivio allows us to stay focused on how to engage most effectively with this group. With Incentivio’s guest journey dashboard we are able to see we recovered 52 percent of our sliders (at-risk guests) compared to just 5 percent of guests that have already churned.”

Next up for Incentivio, a Menu Intelligence tool that will pinpoint which menu items are causing churn and which are converting customers to Regulars or Loyalist show the menu items that guests choose influence the guest journey: “We see a tremendous amount of blank space on the canvas to help restaurants leverage their data to improve their revenue, margins, strategy, and operational efficiency,” says Todtenkopf.

To learn more about how you can stop losing customers, visit the Incentivio website.

By Jocelyn Winn

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