As a restaurant, it’s crucial to improve the way your customer is engaging and experiencing the business. The experience your customers have when dining at your restaurant will influence how likely they are to return. When it comes to tools, there are plenty out there that can help build your customer’s engagement to the brand.
There’s a lot of restaurants and hospitality businesses that you compete with, so spending time improving your customer’s engagement is going to be extremely beneficial.
In this article, you’ll find six effective ways to improve your restaurant’s customer engagement so that you drive more sales, whether it be at the venue itself or through takeaway opportunities.
What is customer engagement?
According to Super Office, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. Customer engagement is described as the emotional connection between you as the brand and the customer. With highly engaged customers, they’re more likely to buy more, promote your business without much encouragement, and will be more loyal overall.
Keep customers engaged throughout their purchase journey to develop customer loyalty and collect valuable customer information. More customer interactions lead buyers to find your brand more valuable and provide you with customer insights.
Customer engagement should be a key strategy for growing your business and helping bring in more revenue. As a business within the food industry, impressing your customers is majorly influenced by their stomachs. However, customers are more than likely to return to places that have captured their emotional side too.
So with this in mind, what ways can you improve your restaurant’s customer engagement?
5 Strategies to Improve Your Restaurant’s Customer Engagement
1. Be active on social media and marketing
An engaged customer enjoys being in the know when it comes to your restaurant. With that said, any updates through social media and marketing materials will be welcomed for the most part.
With 71% of consumers having a positive experience with a brand on social media, likely recommending it to their friends and family, it’s good to stay active. Position yourself on as many social media platforms as possible and update your website’s content.
Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your regulars and any new customers who sign up for your mailing list.
Think about your delivery of the updates and how you can keep it interesting. You may want to share your previous customers’ content, especially when their feedback is positive.
Consider your tone of voice and how often you’ll post on these platforms. The more frequently you do so, the more results you’ll see when it comes to growing your following.
2. Introduce a POS system
A POS system is a must-have for any business operating in the hospitality industry. There are many benefits to using a point of sale system, including faster payments and better management of your inventory and orders. There will be several tables you’re waiting on, and that need keeping tabs on as a restaurant. A POS system can do it all for you instead of using a traditional cash register or pen and paper to make payments and take orders.
The system comes with numerous devices, including the main desktop in most cases and handheld devices to make waiting tables easier. Other features like purchasing and supplier order management can ensure everything is available for your customers to purchase.
When you’ve sold out of something on the menu, it can often lead to a certain amount of disappointment, and you want to avoid that all costs. A POS system restaurant can help your business and its employees run a more efficient ship when serving your customers.
3. Invest in a responsive, quality web design
Your website is the face of your business in the online world, and it’s the place where most customers or potential leads will click to explore your business. From your homepage to the menu page, the site should be easy to navigate.
It should contain all the necessary information on the brand, and the site should be an accurate representation of the brand.
Did you know that it takes 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion on the website? Those milliseconds will determine whether or not they like the site and whether they’ll stay on it or leave.
Investment in a high-quality, responsive web design is good for customer engagement. You want them to come onto the site and get the information they need to make a booking or find your venue easily.
Make sure everything can be found easily, using drop-down menu options and labeling the pages correctly. You may want to think about how interactive it is when it comes to visuals and methods of keeping the site interesting and easy to navigate.
4. Take high-quality, professional photos and video content
A great way of keeping your customers engaged is by enticing them through your doors with high-quality, professional photos and video content. The more mouth-watering it is, the better!
Visual content of any kind is engaged with a lot more than just pages of text on your website or via your social media feeds. Posting regular content, whether it be photos or videos, can help provide more engagement.
When creating content, you might want to outsource this to agencies specializing in creating food photography for the hospitality industry. If you’re making the content in-house, then invest in some good recording equipment, as well as ensuring that there’s enough light to capture the shots perfectly.
With the average user spending nearly 2.5 hours on social media, spending time and money creating content is essential.
Examples of visual content could include any of the following:
- Client testimonials
- Recipe videos
- Behind the scenes content
- Employee introductions
- Dish of the week/weekly favorites
When it comes to visual content, there’s no end to what you can create, and it can lead to more discovery of your business if you’re consistent with it.
5. Be responsive to your customers
Being more responsive to your customers will ultimately have them coming back for more. It’s important to be active when interacting and responding to your customers’ needs. If they ask a question, whether it be in-person, online, or over the phone, make sure they have the correct answer immediately.
For online queries, it’s good to have the right CRM set up to handle all the questions coming in, and that way, you’re providing an efficient and timely response. Responding to a customer’s message or query, however simple or complex it may be, helps them feel valued and heard. It’s a crucial part of engaging your customers.
You may find it helpful to have automated responses to questions that are commonly asked. Web chatbots are an excellent feature to implement onto your site and on social media platforms where available.
Make sure you’ve got the right amount of staff in place to help handle communications online, over the phone, and wherever else that’s relevant. The more responsive you are, the better!
6. Reward and nurture your loyal customers
Rewards and incentives can help nurture those loyal customers and set an excellent example for those who’ve yet to use your services. Repeat customers are important to help grow and build your restaurant business, and they’ll be there during times of hardship and the more you can do to reward loyal customers, the better it will be for your business.
A loyalty program or scheme can be a great way of giving back to those customers who come to your restaurant again and again. Introduce several benefits for joining the loyalty program. A few suggestions could be:
- Free drink or free meal on customer’s birthday.
- Discounts on certain meals or menu offers.
- Military personnel, healthcare workers and senior discounts.
- Spend X amount and get your next bill paid for or heavily discounted.
Any added benefits you offer to your customers when they dine with you will help keep them engaged and provide an excellent experience for them every time. Companies like Wayback Burger, Panera, and Chick-fil-A can offer their customers various perks and conveniences, including mobile payment, instantly redeemable awards, personalized offers, and more.
Focus your resources to better your customer engagement
Customer engagement is a critical part of running a successful business. As a restaurant, it’s a heavily customer-focused industry that you’re in, and so engaging with your customers is critical.
Reward those that are loyal, be responsive to everything they interact with, and invest your time and money into promotional content. Use tools and software that make your employee’s roles easier when engaging with your customers. All of this will help build and grow your business.