If you want your restaurant to grow and thrive, you need to engage your customers. This means building relationships with people both inside and outside of your restaurant. The digital arena is one of the places where you can really hone your relationship-building skills.
To do this, you want a customer engagement strategy. This includes a strategy that puts the customer experience first, exceeds your customers’ expectations, meets their needs, and puts forth content that engages them.
So, let’s look at four types of customer engagement and how to use them to your advantage.
#1: Research and Understand the Customer Journey
Do you know how customers find your restaurant? Do you know what happens to them after they dine with you for the first time?
The customer journey involves how customers interact with your restaurant. This happens before they even open your doors and follows them well after they leave.
To create a strategy for customer engagement, you want to really know and understand your target customers and how they interact with your restaurant. To know this, you want to map out the customer journey. Here are some things to look at:
How do you attract diners? You may reach them through your website, social media, email marketing, word of mouth, or another type of ad.
How do you get customers to order from your restaurant or dine in?
What do you offer your loyal customers? How do you get them to create a strong connection with your restaurant?
Do you ask for feedback? This helps you see the customer journey in a new light.
Do you offer loyalty programs or other types of incentives to encourage routine visits?
Once you know the answers to these things, you can really fine-tune your strategy.
#2: Create a Customer Loyalty Program
This customer engagement tactic absolutely works to your advantage by increasing customer retention rates. This means more people eating your food on a recurring basis.
We find that a customer loyalty program is one of the most effective means of increasing customer engagement. You show your repeat customers you appreciate them by offering them incentives to keep engaging with your restaurant. (tweet this)
In addition, reward programs enhance customer loyalty which in turn creates brand ambassadors who promote your restaurant and your food for you.
#3: Personalized Email Marketing
You may have an extensive email list that you market to on a regular basis. If so, this is a terrific way to engage your customers with exciting content as well as weekly specials.
Instead of sending generic emails, personalize your email marketing. First, make sure that each email addresses the person by name. This helps your open rate as personalized emails can have an open rate nearly 30% higher than emails that aren’t personalized.
You can take it one step further and send personalized emails that address a diner’s recent visit or even their customer journey.
For example, Susie Smith dined in your restaurant yesterday and ordered a salad, pizza, and breadsticks. You may have software in your restaurant that can send her an email a few days later with a $5 off coupon for the very same meal.
This helps engage your customers and lets them know you are listening to what they want.
Using some of these behavioral triggers will organically increase your email open rate and, generally, your sales.
For example, if a customer hasn’t visited your restaurant in a while, your software can recognize this and trigger an email telling them you miss them. Sending a coupon is a good idea with this email, too.
You can also build automated emails to follow customers on their journey. For example, your email marketing automated software can send welcome emails to people who join your list, followed by a string of emails that address the needs of a customer who is new to your restaurant.
Don’t forget the automated abandoned cart email that goes to people who don’t finish their online orders.
This unique treatment really works to your advantage as it encourages customer engagement whenever someone receives an email from you.
#4: Leverage Your Social Media Channels
Another one of your powerful customer engagement types is social media. When you use it properly, it really gives you the advantage over your competition.
First, most of your customers and target audience use at least one social platform. According to one study, typically, each person uses an average of seven different social media platforms each month. What’s more, they spend about two and a half hours a day using those social media accounts.
As the data shows, you have an incredible opportunity to engage with your target audience on social media. In addition, it’s highly cost-effective to do so. You’ll increase awareness, leverage customer engagement, and increase your profits.
On social media, here are the best practices to follow for customer engagement:
Respond to every review in a timely manner. Be empathetic to the negative ones.
Run contests to increase engagement.
Have customers “check-in” on their social media platforms, and when they show you they checked in, give them a coupon.
Use photos and videos strategically.
Post customer testimonials – a video format is great.
Let people get to know your staff on social media.
Use paid ads.
Now that you know the four types of customer engagement that work, you can use them to your advantage to grow and thrive as a restaurant.
You have the tools you need to build customer relationships through consistent communication and engaging content.
Really lean into crafting the right messages at the right time and sending them to the perfect audience. This will help propel your customer engagement strategy to the next level. (tweet this)
Then, test your customer engagement strategies and evaluate them on an ongoing basis. You can see what works and what doesn’t and pivot as necessary.
Be patient as you watch your customer engagement strategy succeed and help your restaurant increase its bottom line.
At Restaurant Engine, we create websites that encourage customer engagement. You can count on us to create a website that engages customers through brand storytelling. Let us help you make the perfect site that draws customers in, improves customer engagement and your conversion rate, and enables you to grow your business! Ready to take the plunge and create a new website? Get your free website consultation today!