Reaching the rarefied heights where absolute customer loyalty toward restaurants translates into the admiration and respect of your peers and competitors is not a matter of fictional situations. The path to that stage most usually relies on creating strategies that give clients enough reasons to keep coming back.
The restaurant industry remains highly competitive given the amount of vendors striving to reach interested buyers and the astounding variety of choices at the disposal of such demanding crowds. This makes it difficult for specific establishments to retain a group of ideal patrons and ensure their regular and increased returns. We’ll let you in on a fact shared by most marketing experts: around 59% of dining establishments fail or even end up disappearing within the first 3 years after opening their doors for business.
In this post, we’ll discuss and show you how your restaurant strategy will facilitate supplying you with an impressive amount of excited and motivated new clients.
The heart of the matter doesn’t have much to do with focusing our efforts into plotting a marketing strategy that is mainly concerned with attracting new clients. The top priority should center around turning them into loyal brand clients and retain them for as long as your efforts and service are able to.
We will now lead you to discover the reasons why certain methodologies bring failure to businesses straining to reach those goals and provide you with the key points that shape reliable customer loyalty strategies that, will reward you with highly impressive results.
What is behind the failure of so many customer loyalty schemes?
Inappropriate management and the amount of attention paid to review sites
The Internet rose to prominence and changed our world, its impact and influence has been profound in the gastronomic field. The digital world has completely affected the behavior customers used to manifest before its arrival.
Millions of users currently get a hold of smartphones just to find their way to the most convenient restaurant choices and deciding on places where they can properly satisfy their needs. Recent statistics show how more than 80% of that active segment of the public base their judgement on reviews published on sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google (just to name a few).
The reliability restaurants may place on review websites represent ‘the edge of the blade’ even though, that is due to the fact users can now easily leave negative comments that may severely affect the levels of income and reputation achieved after many years of promotional efforts and quality service.
The truth is, there is nothing you or your business can do to avoid negative reviews (even if they weren’t deserved in the first place). There are different ways to lessen the chances of ever being the target of a flood of unpleasant input. The key is to address negative reviews immediately in a sincere and positive light which will most definitely facilitate improving the bond you have established with clients who trust and prefer what your brand has to offer.
Little presence or attention paid to social networks
Even though most restaurants have learned the importance of being present on social networks, most have failed to realize how the foremost goal they should attain has a whole lot to do with turning partially interested bystanders into truly loyal customers. They stop at a plateau where the Internet is useful only as a promotional platform and nothing else.
It is common to notice how certain brands overload the minds of their followers with advertising that praises the virtues of their restaurants while failing to interact, address comments and answer questions made by their customers on social media.
The failure brought by such objectionable business practices is responsible for causing the extinction of seemingly robust enterprises. We recommend staying away from that lack of connection, make a grand effort not to use social networks as a mere crutch and take advantage of the best they have to offer by establishing solid and genuine bonds that may turn the tables on paths your business shouldn’t thread on.
The key is to turn social networks into a friendly arena where bidirectional dialogues can become second nature and provide users with a place where solid relationships can be built. React swiftly each time customers provide input, don’t wait longer than 24 hours and make sure the answers and solutions you provide them with are delivered in a kind and respectful manner.
Poor customer service by your restaurant staff
The main complaint voiced by the general public who attend food franchises worldwide usually centers around terrible customer service courtesy of the staff at the helm of the brands they are supposed to represent.
This becomes an instant advantage for those businesses smart enough not to fall into such common traps. Just by providing their staff with training that will warrant careful and personalized treatment to their customer base, restaurants can quickly surpass competitors gaining the trust of previously disappointed users and making a world of difference for the benefit of all parties involved.
Here we present you with a truly useful and important key point: provide clients with efficient, kind and personalized service, good enough to elevate your business to that desired top 10 spot among the best in your immediate location.
Lack of information about what clients need
We would now like to share a few nibbles of information from relevant metric sources: 58% of clients affiliated to loyalty plans prefer dining in restaurants where reward programs are available, however, some of those customers state that, the offers they are presented with have a tendency to lack substance and feel mediocre in a general way.
Did you know that more than 50% of reward cards are generally discarded and never used?
This panorama reveals how often restaurants fail getting to know who their clients are and how they can fulfill their most essential needs and desires. If this information were clear to customers, they wouldn’t lack opportunities to be part of reward programs that adapt to their needs. This would immediately bring positive results which would facilitate the process of turning them into satisfied, regular and loyal clients.
The key is to define the profile of our clients right from the beginning and collect information that will let us identify their tastes and preferences as they relate to the products and services we intend to offer.
Lack of integration of data retrieved from customers
Successful loyalty programs focus on gathering customer data in order to map effective marketing strategies, the main objective in this case, is to achieve recurring and lasting visits over a significant period of time. Client loyalty schemes demand the inclusion of ways to measure how often buyers return and what factors are decisive in reeling them back in.
Many studies have indicated how plenty of dining establishments count with impressive amounts of information about their target audience yet fail to comprehend how to use that data effectively.
This is caused by the use of different tracking systems that monitor the behavior of customers but fail the process it by analyzing isolated strands of information.
A good example of this is the number of restaurants that have adopted the use of OpenTable to book reservations but prefer to work with Aloha as their main POS system, while keeping a dedicated website that monitors their rewards information.
Having information spread out through different nodes on independent systems creates scenarios where most restaurants aren’t able extract data that’s useful to organize the proper methodology required to turn casual members of the public into loyal customers.
According to a recent BDO study, 93% of the marketing directors of restaurants that participated in that project had issues integrating their data systems while two out of five in that group of directors declared trying to accomplish their goals was indeed an arduous challenge.
Customer loyalty in a restaurant: the key lies in merging information!
We now have gained insight on how customer loyalty, as applied to restaurants, greatly depends on initiatives that may easily allow for the expansion of monthly sales and as a result boost the potential for profit your business can surely be able to reach (while significantly reducing or getting rid altogether of budgets that are usually allocated to needlessly expensive advertising campaigns).
We must then conclude by asserting how loyalty programs that are conceived from the ground up (taking into consideration the wants and needs of your target audience) will surely provide immediate profits favorable to business owners smart enough to assimilate them.