Customer engagement is a term you hear a lot about these days. That’s because it’s one of the most critical marketing tactics you can utilize to grow your restaurant.
In fact, one study shows that 80% of customers say the experiences they have with your business are as important to them as your food and services. Bottomline – the experience you provide future and current diners impacts your restaurant.
So, let’s look at four ways restaurants can create customer engagement.
#1: Utilize Text Messaging
A great solution to increase restaurant customer engagement is through SMS (text) messaging. It’s a super opportunity to place your restaurant in front of your customers on a regular basis. (tweet this)
Text messaging is cost-effective, and it can help improve customer loyalty while improving your bottom line. You’ll love test messaging results as, generally speaking, open rates hover around 90%.
With text messaging, you can do the following things to increase engagement:
Notify customers when their pick-up orders are ready.
Let diners know when their table is ready.
Tell them about specials and discounts.
Showcase new product offerings.
Let customers text to place an order.
Have customers make reservations through text.
How Do You Get Customers to Sign Up?
It’s relatively easy to get people to sign up, especially if you offer them a discount. To keep them on your text list, you want to offer them things that are relevant to them.
You can have text opt-ins on your website, in your restaurant, on your social media pages, and even in your mobile app if you have one.
If your point of sale system offers it, you can also ask customers if they want their receipts mailed to them or texted to them. If they offer a phone number, you can now text them.
#2: Create a Loyalty Program
In one study, more than 61% of people said that special offers are one of the best ways businesses can engage with them.
So, a loyalty program is another terrific way to create customer engagement. It’s a tool that shows your customers you appreciate them, helps you engage with them, and brings them back to eat again.
If you aren’t sure what types of rewards to offer your customers, go ahead and ask them. Conduct a survey through your email marketing, text messaging, website, and social media channels. (tweet this) Use it to find out what your customers want and need.
Once you know what will drive engagement, you can create a loyalty program that rivals your competition. Then, all you need to do is get them to sign up for it. They can do this on your website or a mobile app if you have one. Your loyalty program might even be tied to your point-of-sale system.
Your incentives might include complimentary appetizers or desserts, coupons, birthday freebies, or discounts for a number of repeat visits. The trick is to use the right incentives to encourage repeat business.
By having a restaurant loyalty rewards program, you drive more revenue to your restaurant while also keeping the line of communication open. Communication and engagement work to make great relationships and loyal customers.
#3: Have a Multi-Channel Approach
Another strategy to create customer engagement is to work all of your digital channels.
This means building your customer engagement marketing strategy around several channels, including your website, email marketing, SMS marketing, and social media.
Create a blog and video content for all of your platforms. Make sure the content is engaging and just what your customers are looking for.
With video content, you can also leverage YouTube along with your social media strategy. You’ll catch more millennials here.
Email is also a positive customer engagement strategy. Not only can you send promotional emails and birthday emails, but you can also engage your customers on a personal level. Use email to offer insights on food, insider looks into your restaurant, and more.
Finally, all of your customer engagement content creation can be repurposed for use on all of your platforms. Just make sure to use the right imagery, video, and content, depending on the platform.
#4: Respond on Review Sites
Customers really want to interact with you on reviews sites. This is one of the reasons why they’re leaving you a review. So, whether the review is negative or positive, make sure to respond.
If the review is positive, and you recognize the name, you can respond personally with a remembrance of their time in your restaurant. By responding to the reviews, you keep your customers engaged, while also recognizing them for taking the time to tell you about their experience.
If the review is negative, it’s essential to respond quickly, appropriately, and with empathy. You’ll never make everyone happy. But a negative review is your opportunity to engage one more time and show others that you care.
If the negative review is valid, tell the customer what you’re going to do to remedy the issue. If it’s not valid, respond with kindness while explaining your side of the story.
Restaurants can create customer engagement by following some of these four tips. In fact, your customers want to engage with you. Eating food someone else prepared is a very personal choice. So, jump at the chance to up the ante with your customer engagement strategies.
Your customers are willing to visit your restaurant time and time again if they have a relationship with you and feel loyal to your restaurant. Keep them engaged during their whole journey. Interact on your website, through email marketing and SMS marketing, through your social channels, and inside your restaurant.
The more interactions people have with your restaurant, the better. Their loyalty will increase, and they’ll be more likely to tell others about your establishment.
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!