The success story of the most popular restaurants stems from their loyal customer base. These loyal customers are fundamental in making your restaurant popular by word of mouth. Not only they will increase the sales by visiting regularly but also inspire other customers to be a regular visitor to your restaurant. It is thus as important to retain customers than to attract new customers.
So, to make your first-time customers or the not so regular customers your loyal customers, there are a lot of things that you should take care of. It can vary from specific loyalty programs to offering great products to providing an exceptional experience.
Some of the ways in which you can improve your restaurant customer service:
1. Restaurant Loyalty Program
Differential treatment by the restaurant towards the loyal customers creates a stronger bond between the two. The loyal customer feels privileged to be associated with a particular restaurant. There are a variety of loyalty programs; for example, let’s talk about loyalty points where every time the customer makes a transaction and earn benefits in the form of loyalty points which they can redeem later.
The various kinds of restaurant loyalty programs are:
1. Privilege cards
These cards are given to those customers who have been very regular with the restaurant and have done a lot of transactions with the restaurant.
For instance, Starbucks has its famous Gold membership card which a customer gets only if the customer has done the required number of purchases with the restaurant. After getting the Gold card, the customer can earn points on every purchase and can later redeem on the collection of more points. The card also offers free drinks, special discounts, birthday special offers, etc.
2. Promo codes
A lot of restaurants offer promo codes on repeat orders via online food ordering apps or online orders. This prompts the customer to make the purchase again from a particular restaurant and try new and different food items
3. Special discounts
Special discounts on orders to loyal customers is a great way to make customers from one-time customers to lifetime loyal customers. These offers encourage the customers to be a frequent visitor to the restaurant
2. Restaurant Customer Service
The restaurant customer service is imperative to focus on customer service to make your one-time customers to a lifetime of loyal customers. Customer service creates a differentiating factor that makes the customer stick to a particular restaurant. It can be small things like informing the customer if there is a delay or any issue.
A few facts gathered by big organizations around restaurant customer service:
1. Right Now Technologies states that 89% of customers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service
2. Parature states that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience
3. Mckinsey states that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
A few ways to enhance customer service are as follows:
1. Training the restaurant staff
A lot of restaurants train their staff on how to engage their customers. This is an excellent practice as the customers highly appreciate warm behavior by the staff. It creates a kind of connection between the staff and the customer, and the customer feels highly valued.
The training also acquaints the newly recruited staff of the nuances of the business, the process, and the culture of the organization. Also, provide them with behavioral training based on how to handle situations.
You can also organize restaurant staff training sessions on how to deal with challenging situations with the customer. The staff should know how to handle the situation to save the reputation of the restaurant. The behavior of the staff plays a pivotal role in customer retention.
2. Use customer name during transactions
Personalizing the experience for the customer creates a lasting impression in the minds of the customer. A lot of restaurants use the name of the customer on the orders, which makes the customer feel very valued.
Let’s take an example, in Starbucks, the name of the customer is written on the drink, for order reference than the order number. In most of the restaurants, the order number is used to call out for the order which is more like a transaction for the customer than an experience.
3. Make exceptions for your customers
Many times the customer has small favors like little less spicy food for their children or more sweet in a particular dish. These changes if incorporated, create a lot of difference to the customer and not a big difference to the restaurant. These little changes can make one-time customers into a lifetime of loyal customers
4. Special occasions
Everyone holds certain days in life very dear to them. It may be an anniversary or birthday. Making the customer feel special creates a strong bond between the two. There are a lot of restaurants who send little gifts or free cake or special birthday discounts to the customers. The customers feel very special and bonded to the restaurant. These little things make all the difference
5. Know your customer
A friendly chat with the customer makes the transaction experience for the customer. Just ask the customer how’s the day builds a rapport that makes the customer very comfortable with the particular restaurant
6. Clean and hygienic
A big part of the experience for the customer comes from how well the restaurant is kept. It is essential to keep the restaurant clean and tidy. The restrooms should also be clean. Cleanliness is necessary to ensure that customers are not disappointed and don’t make the visit their last visit to the restaurant.
7. Value time of the customer
Delivering on time creates a very positive impression on the customer. To convert one time customers to loyal customers, it is essential to make the customer feel that their time is valued.
3. Enhancing the Product
Customers tend to get attracted to variety in the experience provided by a restaurant. Everyone gets bored with a mundane routine. Similar is true for restaurants. The same dishes might not keep the customers glued to the favorite restaurants.
Here are some tips that help you enhance your restaurant customer services:
New recipes: Introducing new dishes from time to time keeps the customers engaged in the restaurant. A little tweak in the dishes or introducing new cuisines can keep the interests of the customers and make them coming back for more
Feedback: The most important means by which the restaurants can stay close to the customers is via feedback. It tells the good and the bad both. Also, the restaurant need to pick on the bad and improve it in order to keep the customers loyal to their restaurant
Differentiate from the competitors: In this age of cut-throat, to retain customers it is crucial or the restaurants to differentiate from others
Customer Order History: By analyzing customer’s previous repeat orders, suggestions can be made to the customers on what to order.
4. Stay Connected to the Customers
In this digital age, social media provides an excellent platform to keep connected to the customers. Using social media channels for your restaurant business to keep in constant touch with the customers is a great way to inform them about the latest offers, discounts or new dishes introduced. It serves as a communication medium and helps in creating a relationship with the customer.
So, making your ‘just customers’ to ‘raving fans’ is not a very difficult feat. Hence, it is vital to provide customers with an experience they are likely not to forget. Furthermore, it is all about paying attention to the little details that matter. Especially, focusing on things like customer service can really make a lot of difference to the restaurants and make a lot of loyal customers!