Once the restaurant has been set up and functioning, the next step is to bring in new customers as well as retain older ones. Once you have a set of loyal guests, they are worth much more as they tend to repeat their orders, spend more, and also recommend your restaurant to their friends. It has been found that any business earns more from repeat customers, thus it is necessary for restaurants to retain their customers and to achieve this you need to have complete guest engagement although it comes at a cost. However, building loyalty among guests is quite a tricky task which cannot be accomplished by just great food and service alone. It is here that technology fills the gap between guest and the restaurant. In the digital world today, there are a number of channels to increase the customer engagement for restaurants through effective use of CRM technology.
- Social Media – When any restaurant consultant uses social media in the right manner, it can turn out to be a very useful and cost-effective method to boost restaurant guest engagement. This age of internet facilitates having restaurant guest base online, along with social media interaction that promises to boost profits and also increase brand awareness. Use of Facebook or Twitter optimally by responding to your guests’ comments and tweets promptly. The best way to boost customer engagement in restaurant business on social media is to run contests on various channels by asking them to upload a check-in at your restaurant for some freebies. The restaurant industry has been very popular on visual sites such as Instagram and Pinterest where images of mouth-watering delicacies draw customer attention more and more. Ensure that your restaurant website has all these social media plug-ins and also ask your guests to connect with you online. Geo-targeted advertisement is in top notch today!
- E-mail Marketing – Restaurant consultants should know that E-mail Marketing has become one of the most trusted ways of communicating with your customers. There are a number of mailing tools that are available in the market today. Send every new customer a welcome mail to show how much you value their association. E-mail marketing helps boost online ordering or delivery too along with in person presence. Automate your E-mails and ask for feedback to improve, birthday E-mails are a great way to boost guest engagement in a restaurant business.
- Chatbots to boost customer engagement – Facebook has a feature where it allows brands to connect with their potential customers through messenger bots. These chatbots can be accessed through existing chat apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, so that your guests do not have to download another app. Through Messenger bots, you can connect directly to all your customers sending them personalized offers and recommendations in accordance with their purchase.
- Respond to everyone – Once you are a restaurant consultant, it is important to show your customers that you as a brand are responsive to messages, feedback, or any other kind of communication you receive from them. You can do this by e-mail, contact forms on your website, or messages left on social media. Responding to comments or messages from fans on social media would definitely feel valued.
- Contests to boost customer engagement – One great way for a restaurant consultant to boost guest engagement is by holding contests, as everyone enjoys winning even if it is just a coffee or an appetizer. If you are clear with your goals, you can come up with strategies so as to achieve your targets. Goals to achieve could be as follows:
Website traffic, Brand Awareness, boosting user engagement, Building E-mail list, increase social media presence, promoting an upcoming product or service, collecting user feedback to improve quality and converting followers into brand advocates.
Some quick fun ideas for a contest are as follows: Instore selfie contest, Photo contest featuring your products, Hashtag contest, and suggesting a slogan.
- Respond to reviews: This is an amazing way to boost guest engagement, as the success of your restaurant largely depends on this ability to generate positive reviews. Recent surveys say that 93% of consumers feel that reviews influence their purchasing decisions. About 85% trust online reviews of local businesses as much as they trust personal recommendations. Almost 49% need to see four stars before they engage with your business. About 82% decide to use your product or service after reading through customer reviews.
- Develop a strategy to generate reviews – Train your staff to ask your customers for reviews after they finish their meal. Make reviewing easier, and interesting by providing an incentive for it. Automate the process using technology, by sending automatic feedback form to customer every time he/she visits your restaurant. Thank customers who leave a positive review, as this will help bond with them better, and also promote your brand and services. Also remember o respond to negative review very humbly.
- Coupons and Discounts to boost guest engagement – When we talk of discount, remember that giving discounts the right way is the best and the fastest way to grow restaurant business. Discounts are one way to get people in your door, by having a strategy around them. Too much discounting could harm your brand image, thus ensure to articulate your message by making your guests feel that you are offering the discount because you value their business. Some interesting strategies are as follows: Offer holiday discounts like Father’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, offer good deals to first timers, promote discount cards through platforms like Yelp or Groupon, collaborate with local organization by offering coupons for their events.
- Gift Cards to boost guest engagement – Holiday seasons are the best time to handover gift cards, as these do not cut into your restaurant’s profit and a great way to build guest engagement with your brand. Public holidays or special days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day are the perfect time to push out Gift Cards.
These are some of the ideas to boost guest engagement in restaurant business, although what works for one restaurant may not work for another. Thus, by analyzing touch points and looking at the ways in which your customers engage with your business, you can optimize the communication you send out at each stage. There are some restaurants that increase cross-sell by sending out personalized offers, drive-up revenues, and increase order sizes by having comprehensive customer engagement strategy in place. Always remember that customers most likely return to businesses that offer them a personalized experience.