We have discussed the creative ways restaurants are bringing customers back to the table, especially in a world where the shutdowns are still fresh in mind and takeout and grab-and-go dining are more popular than ever (read that article here). But getting customers in the door is only the first step – and restaurant cannot survive one one-time visitors alone.
Getting customers to come back again and again is an entirely different proposition. Recent studies show that it is seven times more cost effective to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one. In this, if a restaurant is able to increase retention rates by a mere 5% profits can increase by as much as 25 – 95%.
This is the why loyalty is important. The more complex piece is the how, as it was also found that 70% of diners never return to a restaurant after their first meal – a daunting number for any industry.
So how can restaurants better connect with their customers?
What Do Customers Want?
This is, of course, an age-old question.
To understand what makes customers loyal to a restaurant, one must look beyond what’s on the menu – we know plenty of great restaurants serving great food end up biting the dust. Add quality service, unique atmosphere and Instagram-worthy plating? These things are important as well. And a combination of them all will certainly wow Michelin judges and local best-of lists.
But even this might not be the key to unlocking customer loyalty.
Customers Want Convenience
Recent studies have shown that simple convenience might be the thing that trumps it all. The life of the average diner is a hectic one, and schedules are busier than ever. Being able to order food quickly and easily is now the name of the game, and offering customers the ability to jump ahead or pay online or using a mobile wallet can make all the difference.
Mobile payments represent a multibillion-dollar industry. As most people never leave home without their smartphone, mobile ordering becomes the model of choice; it is estimated that 50% of consumers expect an online ordering option to then pick up in-store or in-restaurant.
The Perks of Customer Data
Creating a loyalty program that utilizes all digital channels – social media, email, website, etc. – is great for letting customers earn and use reward points or rewards both at the restaurant and through a website or app.
In order to partake in the loyalty program, a restaurant must gather basic personal data from their customers – email addresses, birthdays, etc. – that can then be leveraged to better cater to their needs.
Not only does this data help create targeted marketing campaigns that speak to the individual customer, but it can be used to deliver important information – special events, tastings, menu changes and seasonal items – at times when customers are most likely to make a purchase.
Connecting With your Customers
Human connection remains at the core of the service industry. Customers still like to know they are being seen, heard, and appreciated. One way to achieve this is by establishing two-way communication systems, i.e., encouraging customers to share feedback, and offering ways for customers to engage through social media and other digital platforms.
Restaurants can then respond directly, and further establish a positive relationship with their customers even after the meal is over.
The common thread throughout this article is that the restaurant experience doesn’t end the moment the customer walks out the door. Maintaining a relationship with your customers that extends beyond their in-house, in-person experience ensures they will think of you first when their stomach starts to rumble.
NCCO offers several solutions to help restaurants better connect with their customers. Browse our selection of customer-oriented products and start building customer loyalty today.