From big businesses to small, you might have noticed that more and more business have now turned their focus towards an overall customer satisfaction rather than just product/service delivery. Even more so for restaurants, it has become more about creating a ‘memorable customer experience” rather than simply serving a good dish.
Although every restaurant owner has a large variety of potential customers they can choose from and caters their business too, the business strengthening goal forever remains to increase the restaurant's number of loyal customers. In fact, the challenge lies in retaining and converting the best customers into loyal ones who will visit you often. Therefore the right loyalty program can help you encourage and motivate the customers who are already likely to visit you again.
How to build an efficient loyalty program?
The loyalty program is not a new concept in the hospitality business, however, it is important to have a program that suited to your restaurant and your customers. Here are few points that will help you instill a loyalty program that will help you effectively drive sales and convert your customers into loyal ones.
1. Easy SignUp
This is the first and the most crucial aspect of any loyalty program – make it easy. Making your customer go through series of steps to sign up will discourage participation and will demand a lot of effort from the customer's end. The idea is to make the entire sign up process more appealing, extremely user-friendly and very simple so that your patrons can participate without thinking twice.
For example: Using their phone number or by automatically enrolling them when they check out. Keep the joining process simple and in less than 3 steps.
2. Incentive for Customers
What’s in it for the customer? – This is a very important question a business owner should be able to answer. There has to be some gratification and value that customers get out of it, discounts and gifts are some of the easiest ways to reward the customers. However, a more customized approach is always recommended, so you must evaluate, what is it that your customers really value? Is it just discounts? Or a complimentary tasting session? And then create a value-focused rewards program that best suits your audience.
3. Keep in touch
It is important that you create a loyalty program that revolves around constant communication with the client. Staying in touch and updating your most loyal customers about the latest updates helps you stay on their mind and given them a gentle reminder they need to think of you next time they want to eat out. Although just sending out emails is not enough , sending out quality content that your customers are more likely to engage with is also crucial.
For example: Instead of sending out emails only about your discounts, switch things up and send them a secret recipe of a dip you serve at your restaurant or a sneak peek of the seasonal menu you are about to introduce.
4. Be friendly
Just like the sign-up process, keep your program simple and easy to understand, don’t complicate it. Be flexible and make it easy for your customers to collect points, claim reward offers and transfer points. You can also take it a notch up and help them integrate their other loyalty points as well, especially from your competitors that will help you get insights how your customers are engaging with their product.
5. No Hard work
Don’t make it mandatory for your customer to carry a loyalty card or a punch card. You must aim to make the entire experience as easy as possible for the customers, not harder. So ensure that their program identity is easily accessible through their phone number or email.
6. Seek Feedback
Listen to your customers and pay attention to what they want. Now this is where you use the loyalty program to your advantage and learn what your best customers like and dislike about your restaurant. A truly effective loyalty program should help you understand more about your customers and their preferences. While you should cater to your customers choice to what peeks their interest in your restaurant and the loyalty program, you should also frequently give them an option of filling out surveys and giving feedback in return for loyalty points. This helps build a great pool of insights that not only helps you learn about your customer experience but also about what they seek from a loyalty program like yours.
For example : In order to learn which gratification motivates your audience base the most, as part of one of your reward offers allow your customers to pick what they would like to win with a certain number of points. This is will help you get useful data on what really motivates your customers and make necessary revisions to your loyalty program.
7. Make them feel special
This how you build a strong emotional connect with your audience. Mark their birthday and anniversary with a special offer just for them. Take note of what they say they enjoy the most at your restaurant and surprise them in their next visit with it. These small but customized efforts really help the customers feel valued and taken care of. They will not only recommend your place to everyone, they will also make sure they visit you as often as possible.
In conclusion, a simple, open and user-friendly loyalty program will help you earn the customer interest you are hoping for, so use it to understand your audience and build a program around their wants mixed seamlessly with the theme of your restaurant. In the sea of many restaurants don’t forget to stand out and make your patrons experience unique in any way possible because they might forget the way your food tastes but they will not forget how you made them feel.