Going out to eat can be a unique form of entertainment in and of itself. The sights, smells, and sounds create a personal experience we have come to depend on for leisure activity. At least we did until March of 2020.
Restaurants reinvented themselves when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The brick-and-mortar eating out experience became compromised while drive-thru, delivery service, and online ordering became the new boom. Business didn’t stop. It just changed, and restaurants had to quickly implement the needed technology to keep up.
Omnichannel Marketing for Restaurants
Before the pandemic, restaurant loyalty programs were typically card-based and coupon-focused. These programs were single channeled and acted more like fun games than serious business features. When the pandemic hit, touchpoints to achieve customer satisfaction changed to assure restaurant loyalty in an uncertain landscape. One approach that restaurant owners implemented was called multichannel marketing. This system soon evolved into Omnichannel marketing, an automated marketing strategy that creates a brand’s presence across multiple online and offline channels. Using a website, mobile app, social media, email, SMS call center and store-level events, Omnichannel has seen a 250% increase in customer engagement and a 90% customer retention rate. Most important is Omnichannel’s positive and seamless customer experience, which keeps them returning.
Investing in the importance of being at the top of customers’ minds became paramount to restaurant owners seeking loyal customers in the last two years. Owners had to be fluid in their approach to remain competitive. One way to achieve this was by mapping customers’ purchasing behaviors to create a purchasing journey. Offering rewards that matter to customers, such as secret menu items and exclusive dining options, proved to be one way to provide personalized experiences for specific customer profiles which, ironically, does not cost anything beyond the data mining. The future of loyalty programs exists in this space. It is unique, engaging, and customer-focused.
While data shows that 68% of consumers are more likely to purchase takeout from a restaurant now than before the pandemic, every restaurant is different. What assures loyalty to one may be different for the next. Aside from formal, digitally based loyalty programs, restaurant-goers have come to love outdoor venues. Greenhouse, garden areas, or other unique open-air settings are a sure draw for customer return. In addition, pure foods such as vegan choices and plant-based items keep customers coming back.
Although chain restaurants often have formal rewards programs, consumers can be influenced to choose one restaurant over another if it offers a pleasing and safe venue, comfort foods, or health-conscious dishes.
A Well-Trained Staff
All of these strategies won’t work unless you have a well-trained staff—one who will keep up with checklists, processes, and can maneuver when things get a bit hectic. That’s what Synergy Sync aims to do—helping easily train staff (even at multi-location restaurants) so they feel confident and can take ownership in their roles. A knowledgeable staff creates happy guests! Happy customers creates loyalty!