Food Aficionado Smart Brief: Volume 11
Welcome back to another edition of The Food Aficionado Smart Brief! We've seen trends fly up and down throughout the pandemic years, but there's one thing that has been consistently moving up: customer expectations. Although we've discussed this before, it's important to take a deep dive into the relationships that are the foundation of your business. In research conducted by Square, 90% of restauranteurs are planning to implement improved customer engagement plans. This only shows the massive push to try and achieve real customer loyalty, especially during this time of constant change.
How to Deepen Your Customer Loyalty
1. Pandemic Services Being Made Permanent Let's be real, it's been a battle on many grounds over the past two or so years. However, one major concern is getting customers in the door and then returning. Returning customers, specifically after two visits, are massive for small businesses. Now to begin, 75% of restaurant owners say they will be making the pandemic changes they've implemented permanently. Whether this is offering curbside pickup, selling meal/cocktail kits, contactless ordering, or even selling subscription-based services, restauranteurs are leaning into the "new normal." A suggestion that we have is offering a rewards or loyalty program. This will keep customers coming back while still providing value once they achieve a rewards goal. Ultimately, always be thinking about improving the customer experience, especially when leaving the house for meals is becoming less and less attractive.
Returning Customers are Key
Curbside Pickup / Other Pandemic Changes are Sticking Around
Offer a Rewards Program
2. Create an In-Store Experience Truthfully, there are an endless amount of ways to create a wonderful in-store experience for customers. We always like to begin with friendly, personalized, and caring service. There is nothing worse than walking into a restaurant and being greeted by a grumpy hostess and a rude server. This is vital to your business in every which way. The chances of a customer returning after one negative experience is slim, thus, you always want to ensure your team is treating customers with respect and proper assistance. This rolls into another point of a memorable atmosphere. I'll never forget when a friend told me the reason he loves Chipotle isn't the food, but the atmosphere at a specific location. Although not every Chipotle may have the best atmosphere, this one, in particular, had friendly service, enjoyable music, and an overall pleasant feeling. Do what you can to liven up your decor and encourage employees to create moments that customers will never forget. Finally, a basic, yet important, way to boost customer loyalty is consistently good food. When a customer returns to your establishment, they expect the same high-quality that they remember and made their return. In fact, the second serving of a customer is often the most important because after the second meeting, return rates drastically drop. Make sure that the customers leaving their house for a meal are leaving feeling like it was worth the trip, especially with the pandemic still lingering.
Friendly, Personalized, and Caring Service
Light and Fun Atmosphere
3. Maintain Relationships Overall, there is nothing more powerful than human connections. You know what's a top ranking factor in human connections? Food. Food brings people together in a plethora of ways that we all know, but this list now includes online relationships as well. Thus, the relationships you make in person at your restaurant often translate to Instagram, Facebook, or in another online fashion. Your most loyal customers are going to be commenting on your posts and showing their followers their favorite foods. It's extremely important to be actively engaging with customers and followers online because they feel like they are a part of your brand and want to show it. Just as online relationships are important now, real, in-person interactions still mean the world. The connections you make in your store can and will lead you down new roads you may have never seen coming. Be open to talking with customers, not only will they appreciate it, but also it will build their loyalty. Nonetheless, do whatever you can to make your customers feel special and they will surely return the favor.
Food Brings People Together
Online Interactions Mean The World
Be Open To Communication
To Summarize: Customer loyalty is a number one priority in the restaurant industry and we want you to have all the tools you need to build these relationships. Keep in mind, the pandemic is still lingering on and changes you've made already may need to become much more permanent. Specifically, now, your in-store experience means more than anything. With people still nervous about dining out, when they do decide to leave their home for food, it's necessary to make their trip worth it. Lastly, always be building and maintaining relationships with your customers; both in-person and online.