Restaurant Loyalty Program: 3 Tips to Boost Customer Engagement

Despite the upward shift in the national economy, the restaurant industry sales environment remains somewhat shaky in 2013, and has seen several ups and downs over the course of the year. Repeat visitors continue to provide the most income to restaurants around the nation and as such, it pays to find novel ways of engaging and retaining these consumers.

Loyalty programs have long been a favorite approach to meeting that goal and the increasing use of social media and mobile devices have vastly increased the frequency of use for restaurant loyalty programs. As a savvy restaurateur, it’s well worth your while to ensure that your loyalty program is engaging your customers in the most effective ways possible. Here are three tips to make the most of your restaurant loyalty program.

Tip One: Offer Worthwhile Rewards to Your Restaurant Customers

The biggest mistake restaurants make with their loyalty programs is that they make the rewards either too difficult to attain or not enticing enough to bother. It’s critical to make your rewards reasonably easy to achieve without making your customers jump through too many hoops.

It’s just as critical to offer something that they would really like. Earning a free five-course meal, for example, is far more interesting than earning a t-shirt with your business’s logo on it. Getting entries to win a sponsored mountain bike is more fun than getting entries to win a free appetizer. Offering rewards that are truly meaningful to your consumer base is the first and most critical step of a successful loyalty rewards program.

Tip Two: Loyalty Points Should be Easily Gathered and Redeemed

The second step to a successful rewards program is making the accumulation and redemption of loyalty points as easy as possible. Approximately $16 billion dollars, or somewhere around a third of the overall loyalty dollar value, goes unredeemed each year. Part of the problem is making your customers jump through too many hoops to gather and redeem their points, but the other part of the problem is the somewhat cluttered nature of loyalty currencies themselves.

Fortunately, there has been an outcropping of new loyalty currency aggregator apps to address this issue. These mobile applications allow members to use and share the same points across multiple small businesses, including restaurants, right from the convenience of their personal mobile devices. Businesses benefit from joining one of these networks because they get a ton of free user data, social media exposure, and increased enrollment in their loyalty programs.

Tip Three: Tie Your Restaurant Loyalty Program to Your Social Media Campaign

Odds are you already have a social media campaign going, and if you aren’t already using it to leverage your loyalty program membership, you should be. Social media provides a great forum for user engagement. You can make it very easy for your customers to garner points for online activities such as leaving reviews, posting pictures eating at your establishment, or sharing your restaurant’s page with their friends. Doing so has the double benefit of both engaging and building loyalty with your customers as well as gaining free crowd-sourced marketing and reputation building.

It ends up being a win-win for everyone, and creates an on-going conversation with your consumer base that helps to build long-term relationships and traffic that comes through your doors again and again.

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One Response to “Restaurant Loyalty Program: 3 Tips to Boost Customer Engagement”

  1. 3 Important Concepts for a Successful Loyalty Building Restaurant Campaign | Jim Balis' Blog Says:

    […] are going to implement it, is a liberating understanding. You know how important it is to build a loyal following for your restaurant if you hope to see it succeed long-term. Having a commitment to consistently providing the best […]

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