Restaurant owners are always looking for innovative ways to keep customers coming through their doors and returning regularly. With many restaurants beginning to reopen for dine-in or takeout again since the start of the pandemic, it’s a crucial time to entice customers can to your restaurant.
Direct competitors may offer similar food, but the rates of customer retention can be drastically different. Across the restaurant industry, the types of diners and their preferences may vary. But there are a few commonalities that are true of customers across the industry.
Here are a few tips you should know if you want to maximize your customer retention rate:
- Customers Are Visual. The old adage is true, you do eat with your eyes first. Customers rely on visual cues in every part of their process, from what they think when they walk in, to what to order, to how good it will taste, all before they even take a bite. In-person dining relies on seating, lighting, room layout, and table setting to communicate a message to customers. These elements contribute to an overall atmosphere that is key to a customer’s expectations. Your dine-in restaurant may have a great aesthetic, but the takeout options can lack the same appeal. It’s difficult for restaurants to provide the same experience for customers when they have less control over many of the same visual factors. Little details including a well-designed menu, how the food is plated, and the delivery containers the food arrives in can make a big difference.
- Customers Want an Easy Process. Customers who are placing food orders don’t want to waste time with unnecessary steps. If placing an online order requires them to create a new account on a website, or add a lot of details or comments to try to get the food order right, they’ll be less motivated to order. To make ordering as easy as possible for customers, it’s essential to use a quality restaurant ordering system. This allows customers to browse your menu and place their order easily from wherever they are. They can have all of the options of an in-person order clearly laid out for them online. An ordering technology can integrate with your restaurant’s POS system and payment gateway. Customers appreciate the convenience of options to pay in advance for their meal and the ability to tip easily. This can make the pickup or delivery process faster and easier for customers.
- Customers Value Consistency. With constant changes required in the pandemic, consistency is harder than ever. Your restaurant may be forced to adjust many things, but maintaining consistency in food and service quality can be a standard that customers can rely on whether in-person or for takeout. A menu is one of the first things a customer encounters whether in person or online. If the menus are in line with your branding, and both have similar colors, font, logo, and are easy to navigate, it can help create a feeling of consistency. Customers want to be able to return to the comfort and familiarity of the specific dishes they loved. Maintaining consistency in food can go a long way to help customers come back. If it’s standard to ask about certain sides or levels of spice in dishes, make sure that all ordering options also offer those same questions so that customers can get what they expect every time.
- Customers Want You to Get Things Right the First Time. It can be a very disappointing and frustrating experience for a customer to receive an incorrect order. Mistakes like this communicate to the customer that the staff is either careless or not capable of providing better service. This problem can be much worse when the orders are takeout or delivery, because customers often can’t come back to ask for it to be corrected. Customers who find that they’re missing items they paid for can feel cheated. Customers who have had a negative experience are not only unlikely to go back themselves, but are likely to tell several friends about it and write a negative review online. Both of these can cause serious damage to a restaurant reputation, costing customer retention and gains of new customers.
Knowing what things your customers want and how to implement them can be a game changer for restaurants to get a higher customer return. These tips will help your restaurant thrive right now with a better retention rate. Customer loyalty is key, so give them an experience worth remaining loyal to.