How Gift Cards, Loyalty Programs, and Customer Reviews can Help Your Restaurant

Restaurant Management Tips

One of the biggest challenges that restaurants face is obtaining and retaining customers. With so many restaurants operating in the same space, competition is usually high. This calls for restaurants to be creative on what they offer their customers. Gift cards, loyalty benefits, and customer reviews are some of the most effective ways of attracting and retaining customers. This article explores the main components of using these to achieve success.

Importance of Restaurant Loyalty Programs

Everyone loves to earn points and get free stuff. In fact, most customers always shop at a certain store, eat at a certain restaurant, or apply for a credit card to earn points and be rewarded for their purchase. Restaurant loyalty programs help restaurants to meet their targets by giving incentives to the right customers. These are web-based programs that help businesses in managing their loyalty programs. They help businesses identify their repeat customers and encourage them to buy more by giving them coupons, gift cards, and other incentives.

A loyalty management program keeps customers engaged in a restaurant, keeping them interested in buying its products. About 43% of customers spend more money at restaurants they are loyal to. This makes retaining customers among the most important priorities for restaurant owners and managers. Implementing rewards programs is an effective way of achieving this. Some of the common loyalty management features include gift cards, loyalty cards, frequent diner cards, and more. 

A restaurant loyalty program creates the emotion needed to connect customers to the restaurant. It keeps loyal customers visiting the establishment repeatedly. It also assures restaurant owners and managers that the customer prefers their establishment over the competition. Since the cost of acquiring a new customer is higher than retaining current ones, a loyalty program is a crucial aspect of the marketing strategy. When implemented properly in a restaurant, it can stimulate sales growth by retaining your existing customers. It also encourages them to refer the restaurant to their loved ones. 

Restaurant loyalty programs automate the process of redeeming such cards. The program gathers and aggregates customer data on their purchase decisions and spending behavior. The information is then used to automate the distribution of rewards once earned. The program also sets up other processes by activating after certain conditions are met. For instance, certain rewards may be offered on birthdays, reactivation of emails and time, or VIP invites. This allows customers to get full benefits without having to include the staff. At the same time, servers and other employees are relieved of the duty of manually inputting the discounts earned on the program. The restaurant maintains an accurate record of the points accumulated by each customer and the offers already given.

A customer loyalty management program helps restaurant managers to give guests incentives in a streamlined manner. Since the whole process is automated, managers only need to generate reports on how well a loyalty program is doing. The program also appeals to customers because they do not have to carry their paper cards every time they visit the restaurant. All customer details are stored in the program, which means customers can redeem their points by providing their details while making their order. This could be a percentage discount on their next purchase or a free meal after a specific number of visits. 

Restaurant Customer Retention

Effectiveness of Gift Cards

Gift cards are an effective way of attracting and bringing new customers to the establishment. They give new customers a reason to start buying from a restaurant. They can also be effective in encouraging returning customers to keep interacting with the restaurant. Depending on how the gift cards are issued, they can increase revenue tremendously within a short period. This is usually the case with gift cards issued on the restaurant’s website, apps, and social media platforms. 

Restaurants that issue gift cards to their customers report significant growth in their revenues. Whether they are physical or digital cards, they provide a convenient way for customers to pay for their meals. This helps in speeding up the check-out process and offers an effective way for redeeming offers and rewards. When a customer is issued with a gift card, they must use the money from the card. In most cases, customers tend to use beyond the amount prescribed in the cards, resulting in more sales.

Building Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is about getting a customer back to the restaurant for a second time. After impressing the customer with hospitality and delicious food, it is important to make measures to ensure their return. A loyalty management program seeks to entice customers to come back to the restaurant. It contains the features that motivate the customers to come back to the restaurant for more. 

Building customer loyalty should be an ongoing process. A loyalty management program is comprised of the tools necessary to keep customers engaged and boost their loyalty. This may include allowing customers to sign up for a loyalty program to earn rewards for every dollar spent. It may also include features that allow customers to earn discounts to encourage them to keep coming back. Other loyalty program features include voucher codes, membership levels, loyalty points, and refer-a-friend discounts.

Voucher codes are also known as discount cords, e-coupons, promo codes, e-deals, promotional codes, or e-vouchers. They are simply a series of numbers and letters that a customer enters at checkout to claim money off the price of the product. Membership levels, on the other hand, define and distinguish different types of restaurant members. Each membership level will have its own membership fees, renewal policies, subscription periods, and benefits. They help customers save by having a fixed budget over a period of time while restaurants are guaranteed a fixed stream of income.

Loyalty points are the points that the customer earns for spending at a restaurant with a loyalty program. Once they have earned a certain number of points customers can redeem them for rewards like discounts or free meals. On the other hand, the refer-a-friend discounts are the discounts the restaurant offers a customer for recommending it to their friends and families. Also known as referral reward, it encourages happy customers to advocate the restaurant to their loved ones. 

Loyalty programs are more effective in obtaining and retaining customers by offering them a chance to earn rewards and get discounts. Usually, customers will choose to remain loyal to restaurants that reward them for their purchase. Integrated such a program into a restaurant POS system allows for accurate recording of the rewards. It also ensures transparency in how customers are rewarded. It is also important to use a customized program that meets the needs of specific target customers rather than a generic one. 

Influence of Customer Reviews

Customer reviews can help in boosting the reputation of the restaurant. Whether its on your restaurant website or review sites, customer reviews show what customers think about the restaurant or their experiences interacting with the restaurant. Depending on what customers say about your restaurant, they can have an impact on potential customers buying from you. When customers leave reviews on your restaurant website, they get the opportunity to share their voice on their experiences with your business.

One of the most common things an upset customer will do is leave a negative review about your restaurant. On the contrary, great reviews signify great and satisfactory customer service. Therefore, they entice new customers to visit your restaurant and try out your products for the first time. Since reviews are among the first things customers look for in their restaurant search results, you will want to ensure you get as many positive reviews as possible. With more importance being placed on online restaurant reviews, you have to ensure that you are getting meaningful ones from your customers. 

Since customer will always review your work and services online, it can be helpful to take the necessary actions to receive good reviews. Some of the actions you may consider include:

  1. Own a profile on review sites: To get the best ownership of the reviews, make sure you have claimed your restaurant business on Google, Opentable, and Yelp. This will allow you to reply to reviews and have a voice on what people think about your restaurant. 
  2. Ask your guests to leave reviews: Asking for reviews from your guests will help you get more online reviews. You will also get a fair representation of your business by getting both positive and negative reviews.
  3. Leverage repeat guests: Repeat guests are the clearest sign of satisfied and happy customers. Getting this group of customers to leave a review online can have a positive impact on your business.
  4. Make it easy for customers to leave a review: An easy way of simplifying the customer review process is adding review links on your website, social media profiles, and emails.
  5. Respond to online reviews: Responding to customer reviews shows that you genuinely care about your guests and your business. 

It is important to understand that not every customer will be pleased by the restaurant. However, it is the unsatisfied customers that tend to leave the most reviews. To ensure you are getting more online customer reviews, it is important to encourage as many customers as possible to leave their reviews. A guest-feedback features can help in getting more reviews by sending customers instant notifications to review their dining experience at the restaurant. 

Unlike customer reviews that are shared publicly, guest-feedbacks are shared privately between the customer and the restaurant staff. The aim of seeking customer feedback is finding out what they have to say about their experiences. This helps in gaining insights into areas where things need to be improved, where customers expectation are being met or exceeded, and the kind of investment needed to improve the restaurant. 

Conclusion

A loyalty management program is important in attracting and retaining restaurant customers. Loyal customers offer more value to the restaurant than new ones. This means that restaurants need to put more effort into retaining their customers. Loyalty programs, gift cards, and customer reviews are among the most effective strategies for obtaining and retaining customers.

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