The Essentials for Growing Customer Loyalty in Your Restaurant

Written By Tim Scott 

Total Read Time  minutes  

Loyalty is everything, it’s the most important thing in the hospitality industry and is the main indicator of whether a business will succeed or fail. Customer loyalty involves having an ongoing relationship, which drives profits through repeat business.

DID YOU KNOW?

that increasing the number of loyal customers by 5% can affect your sales growth up to a whopping 75%? The truth of the matter is loyal customers provide a regular profit stream and usually spend more than new customers.

Loyal customers also tend to tell their families, or friends about your business, resulting in word-of-mouth advertising. They are ultimately your best marketing tool in the online and offline world.

Data also suggests existing customers are 50% more likely to try a new product and will spend 31% more than new customers. Furthermore, it costs restaurants five times more to acquire new customers than the cost of retaining current customers.

Loyal customers also tend to tell their families, or friends about your business, resulting in word-of-mouth advertising. They are ultimately your best marketing tool in the online and offline world.

Data also suggests existing customers are 50% more likely to try a new product and will spend 31% more than new customers. Furthermore, it costs restaurants five times more to acquire new customers than the cost of retaining current customers.

What Are the Threats to Loyalty?

There’s no denying the restaurant business has and always will be highly competitive, even good restaurants struggle to stay above water. Customers are provided with an abundance of choice nowadays and the oversaturation can make it hard to cut through.


Services like Uber Eats and Deliveroo are businesses which ultimately care about themselves and it’s important to see them for the threat they are. These companies charge massive fees to make a profit and their end goal is that customers order food from them, regardless of the restaurant, as long as they receive their commission. 


These companies also retain customer data, which means they maintain the relationship with the customer, not you. This is how these businesses continue to dominate the market and pull customers away from restaurants, destroying loyalty. It’s why developing your brand and implementing loyalty strategies are so crucial.

Geard Siromani.... "we never imagined that the shoutouts and push notifications would have such a huge impact for our business. We see a 25-30% increase in orders on the days we shoutout a daily special,” (See More)

It’s essential your business has control of your customer data and the advantages of retaining this data are even more apparent during COVID. Retaining customer data allows you to reach out during birthdays, send out discounts and inform customers of special events or deals.
This is how you leverage your current customer base and move forward to gain new customers. 

Mastering The Basics

Satisfied and happy customers are loyal customers. It should be every restaurant’s goal to make their customers as happy as possible. While satisfying customers should be the baseline, going above and beyond is the true goal here - no matter how hard you try, there will always be customers you can’t please, but staying the course is important.

Serving delicious food along with providing great customer service is the basis for your success. This means maintaining a consistency with your quality and service, which starts with having a great menu. From there you use your sales data to determine the best offerings and manage your menu accordingly.


It’s also imperative to ensure you have a welcoming and comfortable environment. In some situations, customers will say they enjoyed their meal, but the atmosphere or staff were not pleasant.

Good customer service and a positive experience is key to turning new customers into regulars. No matter how much technology drives interaction, people will always value friendly service, which includes over the phone. Never fail to go above and beyond with customers, whenever they’re interacting with your business. 

The Traditional Approach vs Technology

No matter the setting, the same rules still apply for building customer loyalty.
A restaurant’s website is their most powerful asset in the digital space and should be used and maintained accordingly. Your social media accounts and app are all just as important – don’t forget your Google My Business listing. All of these aspects are customer touchpoints and build upon the relationship you have with them.
One bad experience in any of these areas can have a great effect, just as much as a good experience can lead them to you. Maintaining customer service quality should also extend all the way to food delivery. 

The Traditional Approach vs Technology

No matter the setting, the same rules still apply for building customer loyalty.

A restaurant’s website is their most powerful asset in the digital space and should be used and maintained accordingly. Your social media accounts and app are all just as important – don’t forget your Google My Business listing. All of these aspects are customer touch points and build upon the relationship you have with them.

One bad experience in any of these areas can have a great effect, just as much as a good experience can lead them to you. Maintaining customer service quality should also extend all the way to food delivery.

Building a Customer Loyalty Program

A loyalty program is a rewards system, which incentivises customers to repeat their purchase with the inclusion of an offer or promotion, usually a discount and/or free item.


Another example is a punch card which cafés give customers; these punch cards can now also be redeemed virtually via an app, e.g. WOWAPPS.  Most loyalty programs nowadays are offered digitally and all follow the same principal of rewarding repeat buyers.


In research undertaken by McKinsey and Company, it was determined digital loyalty programs have been one of the key saving graces for restaurants during COVID-19. Having a strong online ordering presence, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and solid loyalty programs implemented, saw businesses digital engagement with customers soar to new heights.


Customers enjoy loyalty reward programs due to a sense of progression and the feeling that comes when they earn a reward.


Below are a few ways you can build loyalty in your restaurant or café:


1- Set Goals

Any successful campaign starts with set goals which are specific, achievable and relevant to what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’re wanting customers to return regularly, then a punch card will help push for that.

2- Utilising Technology:

Online ordering is the standard these days with more than 70% of customers seeing digital rewards as important - that means give the people what they want.

You need to cater to these crowds as they are most likely your largest source of new and returning customers. Most people prefer to have a loyalty card which is attached to their mobile app, as it simplifies the process.

Mobile apps also provide YOU with customer data to keep in contact and determine what items are selling.

3- Don’t Neglect Offline:

It’s important to still maintain and honour loyalty programs which are manually recorded, such as punch cards. These are still worthwhile and many customers prefer this method.


4- The Personal Touch:

Customers love receiving personalised rewards, such as discounts or free items for their birthday. That’s the benefit of a WOWAPPS, as it allows this data to be tracked and consistently used. Industry analyst Mary King explains that one of the greatest things about digital loyalty programs is their ability to offer more personalised rewards.

5- Promotions:

No campaign is going to be successful if it’s not promoted - this means getting the word out there. Use the information you have at your disposal to message customers and let them know what you’re offering.

Push notifications are a great way to keep customers updated and interested, just make sure to keep messages short, sweet and straight to the point.


6- Using Customer Data:

Customer data is very beneficial when it comes to building loyalty. Retaining customer data allows you to personalise your programs and this is only possible when you have the information.

App loyalty programs are the best source of this information, as they tell you everything you need to know about your customers and their purchases, as well as how many people are using your loyalty program. That way, you know what programs are working best and can cater accordingly.

Conclusion:

The main thing you should be taking away from all of this is how important customer loyalty is for your business. Push for people to use your digital platforms, but never neglect the old school methods either.

About WOWAPPS

WOWAPPS is an all-Australian tech company, dedicated to anticipating the ever-evolving needs of restaurants and their diners. We are committed to helping Australian Restaurants reap the rewards of additional revenue and brand advocacy, providing seamless customer experiences that are more delightful and convenient.

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