Posts Tagged ‘relationship building’

A New Perspective on Special Offers in the Restaurant

July 24, 2013

Providing special offers such as ‘daily deals’ and ‘happy hours’ in the restaurant is nothing new. That said, creation and participation in such programs can be a rather costly affair. As a result, an increasing number of chain and independent restaurants alike have been creating, managing, and posting their own special offers and coupons on their websites and utilizing the new technology that is available as a cost-effective means of stimulating more visits from their best customers.

Giving Your Best Restaurant Customers Exclusive Benefits

The general rule of thumb is that 80% of your restaurant’s business comes from about 20% of your customers. Therefore, it makes sense to do everything within your power to reward that 20% for their patronage. While it’s smart to have regular coupons posted on your website which any consumer can use, it’s even smarter to provide exclusive coupons and offers to your most loyal customers.

Typically, this is done through the creation of membership programs or the joining of exclusive mailing lists. A recent study by LoyaltyPulse shows that 77% of participants feel that the most important feature of a loyalty program would be earning points toward free or discounted meals. Another 70% said they would like to receive unexpected benefits in the restaurant, such as receiving a free appetizer or dessert. Special birthday coupons were in high demand for 72% of participants, and an additional 58% wanted holiday coupons and discounts for trying new menu items. More that 50% said that being the recipient of exclusive offers unavailable to non-members was their primary motivator for joining.

Cause-related marketing is also powerful and using the technology that is available would allow you to easily set up a system in which you donate x% of a customer’s bill toward the charity of their choice. Additional examples of exclusive membership rewards include offering a certain percentage off their ticket during their entire birthday month or even year-round discounts for members!

Tailoring Your Special Offers to the Unique Tastes of Each Customer

With the technology that we have available to us, it is easier than ever to create highly customized, special offers unique to each customer. For example, if a customer never orders dessert when they visit your restaurant, it’s useless to send them a coupon for discounted dessert!

Instead, it is far more powerful to send that customer a coupon for a meal or food item that they regularly order when they visit your establishment. Not only does this increase the likelihood that they will actually use the coupon, but it demonstrates that you are really paying attention to what they like and are doing everything within your power to reward them for giving you their business.

Utilizing Technology to Track and Retain Customers

Aside from allowing you to really customize coupon deals, using technology to track your customers’ behavior also tells you important information such as how frequently they come to your restaurant. This is useful because if a customer who normally comes in once a week hasn’t shown up for three weeks straight, you can set up the system to automatically generate, say, a 10% off coupon to be delivered to their in-box, encouraging them to return.

The take-away message here is that it is critical to look for creative ways to engage and exclusively reward your most loyal customers. With the technology that we now have available to us, this is a task that is easier than ever to do.

Building Restaurant Customer Loyalty by Learning to Really Listen

June 10, 2013

As a restaurateur, you already know how important it is to deliver an experience that your customers want if you hope to have them return to your establishment – let alone recommend your business to others. One of the simplest ways to ensure that you are meeting and exceeding their expectations is, quite simply, to ask for feedback. That said, just asking for general feedback isn’t enough – you’ve also got to ask the right questions, ask in the right way, and act on the information you get.

Ask Your Customers Questions that Really Matter

Learning to ask the right questions of your customers makes all the difference in the world when it comes to getting truly useful feedback about improving their customer experience. Many restaurants make the mistake of asking only questions that are designed to help them better understand their customers’ habits rather than questions that help them understand how they could improve their experience.

For example, while it may be useful to know how often your customers eat out or where they tend to go, it is more instructive to ask questions about how you could improve their experience with your establishment or what you could do to entice them to return more frequently.

Provide Multiple Avenues for Constructive Feedback

Not everyone is comfortable providing honest feedback on the spot. Therefore, it’s smart to provide multiple avenues for customers to tell you how they are feeling. Whether this comes in the form of feedback boxes on a customer’s check, social media pages where they can post their feelings, or simply hospitality ambassadors whose sole job is to make the rounds while people eat to make sure that everything is up to par, you want to provide multiple avenues for people to talk to you.

You want to encourage honesty and breed a constructive environment through which you can gain information. Rewarding your employees who get great feedback is a part of this process too – the more that people can see the tangible effects of their efforts, the more likely they are to continue their good work.

Close the Feedback Loop by Taking Action

Last but not least, you want to make sure that you actually take action on the feedback you have garnered. Going to the effort of collecting feedback from your customers but then not bothering to do anything with it can actually hurt your business more than if you didn’t ask for feedback at all! You want to encourage honest responses and demonstrate that you’re really listening by nurturing an attitude of ‘let’s fix it!’ This breeds a culture of respect and integrity that your customers will truly appreciate.  

Taking the time to gather genuine feedback from your customers has the dual effect of helping you create an establishment that truly exceeds peoples’ expectations while simultaneously building the loyalty of the customers who frequent your restaurant. There is always room for improvement and in today’s economic environment, it is more critical than ever to do everything within your power to ensure that your customers’ experience is as remarkable as it can be.