An Epiphany in Chicago: Customers are Humans Too

At the Chicago Subway Convention I had an epiphany, a realisation through human observation.  I could try and explain it to you in my own words but, by chance, I stumbled across a word online which I think sums up the concept perfectly.


n. the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you. (John Koenig – dictionary of obscure sorrows).

Ok, Sonder is technically a made up word but my point still stands: our customers are real people. It seems obvious, but sometimes we are so focused on our customers being customers that we forget this really important fact.

At PXtech, a vital part of our development team’s ethos is to keep the customer as our primary focus.  We start thinking about our customer at the design phase and constantly try to refine our products through the development life cycle. We constantly ask questions like “Why would our customers use this?” and “How could we make this easier for our customers to use?” to ensure we’re on the right track. This approach is already working. I had many people at the convention tell me that they liked what we’ve created and I saw how passionate some of our customers were about our products. However, to take our products to the next level, I think we need to keep in mind the concept of sonder.

Whenever we start to create something, we should not only be thinking about what our customers need as customers, but also what they need as people. We should be creating something which feeds into their lives seamlessly and aims to make their complexities simple.  We should be thinking about what stresses them out on a day to day basis and how our software can make them feel better, happier and healthier by taking away even one little stressor.

From a business point of view, we can start to build up complex pictures of who our customers are, what tasks they do, what they find difficult and most importantly, how they want to use our tools. We can make sure our products are inclusive by catering for all different types of customers. For example, our products should be crisp and simple enough for those who require automatic, high level or quick solutions but detailed enough for those who prefer something configurable and highly detailed. To understand our customers as people means we can ensure we deliver products that are truly valuable for all.

From a selfish perspective, the idea of sonder makes me feel really good about what I do. Yes, we can help save our customers’ time and money but we could also be giving them the tools to enhance their lives in other ways. Just think: we create a product which reduces the time a customer spends on activity X by 30 minutes each week. Making a task more efficient for a customer is always a success but when we factor in sonder, we could also be doing something much greater. Our customer will now have an extra 30 minutes of free time each week. This is 30 minutes they could use to meet with their friends, take their dog for a walk or play with their children. 30 minutes doing something fun or at least something less stressful than activity X. To me, this is a really nice thought. It makes things seem more personal and definitely makes me more passionate.

We can use the concept of sonder to spark new ideas and use it to innovate thoughtful solutions. The next time you’re working on a product, just stop and think. Realise that what you’re doing really can have a positive and meaningful impact on somebody’s life.

Kim Hoffman, Senior QA Analyst

Engage employees to engage customers

Engagement comes in many forms and is often difficult to measure. With such a visceral concept, the definition of engagement can be iffy but the basis remains the same: ‘being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to others’.[1]

More and more businesses within the hospitality sector are beginning to recognise the positive effects of an engaged workforce. With 88% of businesses planning on improving engagement in 2017, failure to recognise the power it has will leave your business lagging behind your competitors.[2]

Ensuring employees are thoroughly engaged can improve all areas of a business. It is no secret that hospitality has one of the highest employee turnover rates of any industry. Bloomberg BNA estimated that a huge $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover. Money is literally walking out the door due to low levels of engagement.

It has also been proven that engagement isn’t only good for improving staff retention. As well as being happier, healthier and more fulfilled at work, engaged employees deliver improved business performance evidenced by productivity, profit, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, innovation and efficiency.  Engaged employees care for the company’s future, are willing to go the extra mile and know how their work impacts the overall goals and vision of your company.

Engaged customers bring a 21% profitability premium to the companies they are engaged with.  Engaged employees increase sales by 20%, their absenteeism drops by 41% and safety incidents decrease by 70%. Companies that invest in engagement see a 17% rise in productivity and 40% rise in quality of work compared to those who don’t.[3]

These are facts. Engagement works. All the statistics show that engaged employees improve the workplace beyond the happy employee; engaged employees actively work to improve profit and decrease unnecessary costs. Engaged employees are more loyal to their company, saving you money and time on recruitment and training. Your HR department would be better off spending less time recruiting new talent, and more time engaging and retaining the great employees your business already has.

With an increasing number of socioeconomic concerns influencing and, in most cases curbing profit, it’s easy to want to take the reins and implement processes and systems that rely on control, direction and compliance. This will only damage engagement levels and cause further financial distress. Instead construct the right teams, analyse productivity levels, ensure you have the right people working together at the right times, and trust them to do their job. Give them the support they need, discuss the larger focus of the business, where you want to be and where you want them to be, and they are more than likely to succeed and be happier while doing so.

Engagement is pinned to be one of the most explored concepts for hospitality this year and looking at the results so far, it is no wonder why. Businesses are being more innovative than ever with their workplace culture and are really going that extra mile to ensure they can provide the best, most engaging, environment for their employees. While installing slides in the office will be a little farfetched for most, if your business isn’t working on its engagement levels, it will be left behind and struggle to stay ahead of the curve. Not to mention spending valuable revenue on recruitment, training and labour costs! Large or small, engagement can help you transform your business for the better and it’s time you started talking about it.

Engagement needs discussing now more than ever; you should not underestimate the power it can have.

If you would like to discuss engagement in more detail and see how your technology can help, please get in touch at or 01332 921 300.

[1] CIPD, Employee Engagement: An Introduction

[2] Virgin Pulse, State of the Industry: Employee Wellbeing, Culture and Engagement

[3] Gallup, Gallup 2016 Q12 Meta-Analysis: Ninth Edition,

Human factor in engagement

Customer Business

Engaged customers bring a 21% profitability premium to the companies they are engaged with.  Engaged employees increase sales by 20%, their absenteeism drops by 41% and safety incidents decrease by 70%. (Gallup 2016 Q12 Meta-Analysis: Ninth Edition)


Still think engagement isn’t important?

Engagement is far more than satisfaction or happiness. It is about emotional commitment. When customers and employees feel engaged and are engaged with a company, they are part of its experience, its adventure. They develop a feeling of pride and a feeling of belonging. They are prepared to go the extra mile to support the company.

The engaged customer will evangelise the company and the brand. The engaged employee will use discretionary effort to solve problems, to drive innovation, and is concerned with the company’s well-being.

Engagement is about people. Technology is the tool to make it successful.

To find out more and to join the conversation on engagement, email us on or give us a call: 01332 921 300!

How to Use Your Restaurant Data to Engage Customers

Analysing what is going on in your restaurant is the first step to truly engaging your customers. You’re likely to already collect a wealth of data about your transactions, staff and customers. Collating this data is important but unless you utilise it, this can be a little fruitless. A good EPOS system will collect data automatically and store it safely in the cloud so it’s there to review when you need it. Good Business Intelligence systems can then take this data and transform it into something you can act upon.

However, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s some ideas on how you can utilise data in order to engage with customers on a much deeper level:

Listen to your customers’ voice

The first step in pleasing your customers is to listen to what they really want. Online reviews are becoming ever more important and can provide valuable insights as to where you could improve. More often than not however, customers tend to write reviews when they’ve had a negative experience than when they repeatedly get good customer service and the products they want. While valuable and useful, these don’t help you determine what you’re already getting right.

Sales data can indicate exactly which products sell most, what times of day, week or year they’re most popular, and what combinations of products are preferred. This means you can alter your menu to reflect your customers’ desires. Customers are unlikely to tell you directly that they’ll generally purchase a drink with a main meal for example. Your data does tell you this information, allowing you to create certain deals or options that the customer will engage with. Seeing trends in product sales ensures that your restaurant always offers the customer something they really desire, increasing the likelihood of repeat custom.

Spot emerging trends

While you’re constantly looking at your successful products to ensure your menu is desirable, it’s also good to see the journey of your products or ones that may be gaining or losing popularity. This is most prevalent in seasonal products. A good example includes the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. Presumably it sold well in its first year, demand was high and many customers now wait in anticipation of its return to the menu each autumn.

If Starbucks were to have this item on their menu all year round, it may appear to look like an average selling item as its sales are likely to drop in the summer. Keeping it as a seasonal item builds the buzz around it and makes customers excited for its return. If you’re able to spot similar emerging trends, you can jump on them early on to maximise sales opportunities and excite customers with something they really enjoy. Restaurant trends come and go so it’s good to be able to review what works, what doesn’t and what you can implement for the future. This means your restaurant will never be behind the curve and will keep you in line with your competitors.

Personalise the dining experience

With the use of apps, memberships and loyalty schemes on the rise, you are now receiving more information about your customers than ever before. As you make the effort to collect all of this information, it makes sense to be able to do something with it.

Embracing technology within your restaurant through things such as digital signage or interactive menus and ordering systems means you can make the dining experience much more personal to the customer. If you don’t wish to directly implement technology on the tables, letting them order through an app to which they have an account means you can offer them tailored promotions and show what items they order most and may like to order again (i.e. “Want to order the same as last time?”).

Some restaurants are even going as far as to have live social media walls so that customers can take pictures, tweet or share their food across social media and it can appear immediately on the wall in the restaurant. Incorporating this with gamification and competitions (such as whomever gets the most ‘likes’ gets their meal for free) is a sure way to help your restaurant further its reach online, establish a recognised brand name and see what items are trending.

Engaging your customers can be a difficult process so deploying as much help as you can get from your data is a good idea. Big Data isn’t there just to be digitally shelved and never utilised. Analysing and creating actions from data is the next step to increasing customer engagement on a deeper level, sometimes without them even having to step foot in one of your restaurants.

If you would like to know more about how data analysis can help you make reactive decisions about your business, contact PXtech on or 01332 921 300.