Once the restaurant is set up and functioning, the next thing to do is to bring in new customers and retain your older ones. Loyal customers are worth much more, as old customers tend to repeat their orders, spend more, and also recommend it to their friends. It is also more expensive to acquire new customers; therefore, it is essential for restaurants to develop a healthy, loyal and thriving relationship with its customers.
However, building loyalty among the customers is a tricky task, and cannot be accomplished by great food and service alone. Effective and proactive communication goes a long way in retaining customers and boosting their loyalty. In this article, we have explained the vital points of customer engagement, and how to achieve it.
1. Loyalty programs: Reward your customers
Once you’ve impressed the customers with your delicious food and hospitality, you must take measures to ensure their return. Loyalty programs play a major role in enticing customers back to your restaurant. Offer your guests reward points that redeem into discounts or a free item on your menu, to keep them coming back for more.
The important thing to remember is that generic loyalty programs don’t work; you need to customize them according to your restaurant and your customer base. OneLoyalty, NextBee, and Accentiv are some of the loyalty programs that you can use for your restaurant
Another thing that leads to failure of loyalty programs is that a major chunk of loyalty program members is inactive. This accounts for several reasons, the primary one being a dependency on loyalty cards. In case a customer forgets to bring their membership card, he is as good as a new customer and cannot avail any offers or discounts.
This is where POSist helps you. POSist supports cloud-based loyalty programs in which all the customer data is stored in the database. In this manner, even if the customer forgets to bring the card, they can simply use their phone number for identification.
You can easily integrate the customized loyalty program of your own choice into the POSist software without any hassles.
2. Greetings and Special Offers: Make it personal
Nothing pleases one more than being treated specially. You can further delight your customers by sending wishes and greetings on their special occasions. Most people go out to celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries, and when you send them a personalized greeting, chances are they’ll remember you when deciding where to eat.
Offer your guests a discount, or give them a meal on the house. Apart from increasing customer delight, this is also a great method to improve sales as the person celebrating, usually comes in with their friends who end up ordering more.
You can also use your CRM to track customer behavior. If a customer hasn’t visited you in a long time, send them an e-mail or an SMS saying you miss them. This is likely to result in a visit and also instills goodwill and delight among customers.
3. Announcements: Keep your customers updated
You can use your marketing skills to boost customer engagement. Tell your customers about the social media campaign you’re about to start, or the live band you hired to perform this weekend. It is an excellent idea to make a calendar of events and sending it to your customers so they can block their dates for future visits.
Whether you are launching a new dish, hiring a new pastry chef, or celebrating your Silver Jubilee, you should make your customers a part of your restaurant by including them in your milestones.
4. Feedback: Show that you care
We must remember that communication is a two-way street. Feedback from customers is a must for effective communication as it gives you first-hand insights into your faults, and gives you an opportunity to grow as well. It also makes the customer feel valued. It is also a good idea to share customers’ reviews with your other guests, as it lends credibility to the brand.
You can gather customer feedback by presenting them a comment card or feedback form at the end of their meal or send them occasional emails asking for their views on your hospitality.
POSist helps you to smoothly achieve perfect feedback management by providing paperless feedback system. Customers can give their feedback through a tablet which is integrated with the POS. This ensures that the feedback and insights are not lost, as can be the risk in a comment card.
5. CRM Integration: Know Your Customers
Customer Relationship Management is the most important part of customer service and engagement. The CRM database gives you all the information and reports that you need to know about purchase and customer behavior and helps you take informed decisions based on the data.
Your guests are not just customers of a particular outlet; they are customers of your brand. Therefore, we have taken measures to ensure that your customers feel loved no matter which outlet of yours they go to. In the case of large chains and QSRs, POSist provides a centralized CRM system, where the data for each customer is shared across locations. Its centralized CRM and loyalty program modules allow the customer to avail discounts and offers across all branches.
Related reading: Experts' guide to customer management
We talked in detail about what all tactics to use to engage your customers. Now we will deliberate on the channels of achieving customer engagement.
Using the Right Channels: How to Achieve Effective Customer Engagement
Social media, when used in the right manner, can turn out to be the most useful as well as cost effective method of customer engagement. They have been known to boost profits and increase brand awareness immensely.
You can use facebook and twitter to its optimum by promptly responding to customers’ comments and tweets. You can run contests on facebook and twitter to increase engagement. Food and restaurant industry is very popular on visual sites such as Instagram and Pinterest as images of scrumptious delicacies draws customers even more.
Remember to add your social media plug-ins on your restaurant website, and ask your customers to connect with you online. You can also take it a notch higher by geo-targeted advertisement.
E-mail marketing is one of the most trusted ways of communication with customers. There are a number of mailing tools available in the market that you can use.
As soon as a customer signs up, send them a welcome message. This makes the customer feel valued. E-mails with catchy subject lines grab attention and lead to higher opening rate. Keep a string of consistent communication with your customers in the form of announcements, reminders, and greetings as we have discussed above.
Sending a newsletter is a great way to keep your customers updated about your restaurant. You must also remember to remain consistent in sending the newsletter as you are establishing a customer base. Therefore, plan your newsletter well ahead in time. You can also offer a discount on their meal to entice customers to subscribe to your newsletter.
SMS marketing is considered an effective communication channel as SMSs have a high probability of being opened, and are an excellent way of converting potential customers into dining, happy customers. A good promotional SMS consists of actionable content that leads to high conversion rates. For example, a promotional message of your dish of the day, and the link to order it online generates home delivery orders.
SMS integration with the POS allows you to send regular updates to your customers. This is especially beneficial for QSR’s as they witness the maximum number of delivery orders. Keep your customers updated by sending them SMS’s at each stage of their order, helping them to track their order and delivery progress.
Most loyalty programs fail because of inactivity of members. The major reason behind this is that restaurants use the wrong or no marketing channel. SMS integration with your loyalty programs is a great way to make sure that the updates about your recent discounts and offers reach your customers.
POSist helps you achieve the perfect customer engagement by seamlessly integrating with third party loyalty programs, CRM, email marketing and SMS marketing tools. Make it your own today! Know more at www.posist.com