Award-winning retail analytics for Novus Leisure

Red Ant, 21st March 2016

Mobile apps, online activity, in-store data capture, staff tracking, sales stats and more – they all generate millions of datapoints which need to be turned into accessible, useful information which can be fed back quickly to the right people.

One side effect of the drive to increase connectivity and break down silos is the seemingly overwhelming amount of data and support requirements generated by an increasing number of customer touchpoints and business activities. Mobile apps, online activity, in-store data capture, staff tracking, sales stats and more – they all generate millions of datapoints which need to be turned into accessible, useful information which can be fed back quickly to the right people. On the face of it, getting it all to work together can seem impossible, and it can be hard to justify adding yet another source of data to support when you’re not effectively using what you already have. Plus, simply dumping information into the hands of head office and store colleagues isn’t enough: it needs to be streamlined, surfaced, and managed for sensitivity – all of which requires planning and development.

What you need is application/service orchestration which, as mentioned above, is provided by a connected retail platform. It brings multiple business applications together to automate processes and synchronise data without the complex tangle of application dependencies which can arise when trying to make one system ‘talk’ to another.

Like the different parts of an orchestra, each system/process/API can be separated into its own entity, divided into relevant subsections.

Each part has its own data set, for example:

  • Customer details
  • Product specs
  • Stock information/levels
  • EPoS, either your own or a third party platform
  • Orders
  • Twitter, Facebook and other social networks/messaging platforms

Any business system - legacy, third party or specifically developed – can be broken down in this way so that its data sits in its own space.

The orchestration part involves joining these sections together in a way which connects systems and touchpoints into a single, unified flow of information which can be used by anyone (customer, sales staff, head office) on any device. Any one section can be connected to any other to create a model journey and give easy access to the analytics that go with it.

It’s a simple, practical approach which can be applied to any data set:

  • Advances in flow-based architecture and visual editing mean that anyone can understand and build customer journeys, from marketing to fulfilment – they don’t need to be developers or translate their ideas into technical language. They can just drag and drop the parts they need, add and move them as they wish to create new experiences
  • Once the sections of data are set up, they can easily be integrated into any process – it’s possible to quickly and easily build a library which can be drawn on whenever there’s a new journey to be built
  • Collection and integration of a wealth of data from each section means that analysis is much easier and very accurate – real-time dashboards can pinpoint the most popular products, what customers are saying on social networks, how many people have redeemed vouchers, speed of service, value of sales – everything can be measured for more effective business planning

We partnered with Novus Leisure, the UK’s largest private bar and club operator, to build a unique real-time customer feedback app which helps to measure social sentiment, deliver live business insight and improve service.

What Novus wanted to achieve

In a fast-moving environment where success relies heavily on customer satisfaction, it can be tricky to measure how customers are feeling, what they are doing and key pressure points as they happen. Novus recognised that having live information at the fingertips of its bar colleagues and managers via smartphone and tablet would be an invaluable tool for ensuring customer issues are dealt with swiftly, gathering data on footfall, assessing popular purchases and developing targeted promotions based on real-time information.

The aims of the project were:

  • For Customer Experience, Bar and Club managers to have instant, real-time access to customer sentiment via posts and comments on key social media
  • For colleagues to be able to act on and resolve any issues as soon as they happen
  • For managers to be able to see at a glance how venues are performing and to tailor promotional activity based on this information
  • For individual venues to have the ability to conduct on the spot surveys and gather customer feedback in real time
  • For venues and the business as a whole to have access to performance data in a handy, easy-to-read dashboard which updates in real time, allowing for better planning and marketing
  • To use real-time data to improve customer satisfaction and boost sales
  • To encompass all of this in a mobile app which can quickly and easily be trialled in a number of key venues before rollout to all bars and clubs

What we built

Developed using our connected retail platform to integrate and orchestrate data from a variety of sources in real time, we built an application that gives Novus’ Customer Experience, Bar and Club Managers unprecedented visibility of customer data and interactions in their venues. This groundbreaking approach allows colleagues to act immediately to resolve any issues, adjust floor staff levels and monitor sales and activity to deliver a better customer experience with a level of speed and efficiency previously unseen in the hospitality sector.

An integral part of the development process involved harmonising data across social, Net Promoter Score, survey and review websites into one KPI that can be used to compare venues against each other. This unique algorithm provides a single measurement – the Customer Experience score – that can be used to benchmark venues and give a score for the company as a whole. These scores can be displayed in a leaderboard visible across the company, to promote healthy competition between venues and recognise the star performers.

We worked closely with the senior team at Novus Leisure and real users from across the business to design the application, using a collaborative, workshop-driven approach and continuous feedback from bar colleagues through to senior operations managers, ensuring the application provided outstanding user experience. Built using our agile methodology, the application leveraged the host of pre-existing data integrations provided by the connected retail platform to dramatically increase speed to market.

How it works

The application provides a dashboard via smartphone and tablet which draws customer feedback and data from:

Social interaction

  • Overall customer sentiment from social media represented in an interactive word cloud which gives instant updates on what’s happening inside the bar from a customer perspective, in real time
  • Combines Twitter, Facebook posts and instant messaging into one feed where colleagues can read, reply to and act on customer comments and enquiries
  • Ability to not only reply to Twitter, Facebook posts and instant messages, but also to post content to these social channels


  • Aggregated survey metrics and reviews from ratings sites such as TripAdvisor, Design My Night and Square Meal
  • Leaderboard comparing sentiment and activity across competitor venues
  • Ability for individual bars to generate their own flash surveys to gather information on the night on service, bar colleagues etc
  • Data is stored to build venue, colleague and customer profiles for more accurate business planning and targeted marketing


  • Full integration with Nova, the industry’s biggest PoS system
  • Live sales data so that venues can measure performance and adapt promotional strategies to improve footfall and purchases, based on real-time facts and figures

An overview of each bar, its performance and targets allows managers to share best practice and improve overall experience. This is achieved via live access to:

  • Venue filters, so that information is specific to each venue
  • Social media feeds
  • A word cloud for trending topics on social, in reviews and surveys, giving busy colleagues an invaluable at a glance overview of sentiment as it happens
  • Recording conversations between venues and customers on social media
  • The ability to post to social media from the dashboard, allowing colleagues to address issues and answer questions as they happen, with a permissions system to ensure access is carefully managed
  • Publishing suggested Facebook and Twitter posts for venues to encourage footfall and promote activities
  • Customer experience scoring, making it easy for colleagues and the business as a whole to pinpoint how customers feel, with a view to improving their experience
  • Social – using company targets to see how well they’re doing in terms of the engagement on social
  • Integration with Typeform feedback surveys to score based on how customers answer follow up questionnaires on what their experience was like
  • Integration with review sites to see star rating as well as customer reviews
  • Comparison with results for last week, last month and last year to monitor improvements
  • Venue leaderboard to show which ones are delivering the best/most improved customer experience


First deployed into a number of pilot locations to get real-world feedback, the application has been regularly iterated upon since rolling out nationally, delivering continuous improvement and new features. This unique test-and-learn approach has yielded results that speak for themselves:

  • Increase of 27% in the unified Customer Experience score in 6 months
  • Increase of 45% in 3-month average Net Promoter Score
  • Increase of 15% in TripAdvisor 5 star average
  • 25% fewer negative posts
  • Average response time cut from 12.25 hours to 1.5 hours
  • Average response rate increased by 57%
  • Award-winning application recognised by the industry, including:
  • UK Customer Experience award for Insight and Feedback – A New Way of Measuring
  • The Drum MOMA award for Relationship Building/CRM

Simon Gaske, Novus’ Customer Experience Director, said: ‘We want people who come to our venues to have the best night out, and that means ensuring customers are at the heart of every decision. Working with Red Ant has allowed us to turn online data into offline action – by giving our hardworking colleagues the right tools and a great user experience, they’re equipped to do what they do best.’