As the old sitcom theme tune says: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” For restaurant managers, that kind of relationship with a customer is gold dust – a friendly connection makes a diner much more likely to choose your restaurant over competitors.
Customer engagement and loyalty have always been a massive part of hospitality success. But in these days of restaurant epos and digital technology, restaurant managers have many more opportunities to get it right.
So at NFS, we’ve looked to our customers ranging from BrewDog to Doner Shack and Marugame for inspiration – and drawn up this quick guide to help you grow your faithful restaurant community.
Get stellar engagement with your customers: 4 top tips for restaurant managers
- Get to know them better – by capturing important data.
- Reach out the right way – targeted marketing works.
- Build loyalty – reward them for coming back
- Be human – grow your restaurant community
Get to know them better
This is that ‘where everybody knows your name’ moment. The moment when your guest arrives, your front of house staff greet them by name, usher them to the seat they like best and recommend a new dish you’re sure they will like.
Who wouldn’t love that kind of treatment?
Obviously, your staff will and should come to know regular customers well. But you can’t have this valuable kind of relationship relying on the right people being on shift that night.
The solution is restaurant epos software that captures important information from the moment your guest – or potential guest – visits your website (and really, you must have a website), places and order or books a table.
The kind of information you need to know. Such as whether they are vegan, or love ordering steak; if they’ll appreciate a seat in the busy bar or somewhere quiet. The restaurant epos software can even keep a note of anniversaries and birthdays.
And the information is securely held on your system, it doesn’t matter who’s on that night – when your guest arrives, they can be greeted like the cherished friend they are.
Reach out the right way
We’ve all had email marketing that misses by a mile – been offered pre-payment funerals recently? Great if you want one; actually annoying or even upsetting if you don’t.
You don’t want to send out that kind of toxic marketing. You want your offer to be exactly what that customer wants, something they will accept with gratitude.
With its data capture, your restaurant epos software makes this possible. So if you know it’s their birthday coming up, it’s likely that best wishes and a free glass of Prosecco with a birthday meal will go down a treat.
The best epos systems offer the opportunity to run loyalty schemes and offer gift cared. Thanks to integration with your other systems, you can even set them up to deduct an offer automatically when the customer comes to pay.
No faff, just good customer service. They will appreciate it and reward you with their repeat business, recommendations and good online reviews.
Can a restaurant have a personality? Of course – who would want to eat their if it didn’t?
Your restaurant might be a quiet, luxurious sort of personality, or a bright, breezy kind of a guy/gal. It’s a huge part of why your customers come in.
So you need to express that personality in all of your communications, particularly in your social media. You want to create a community of fans who communicate with you regularly, and you want to have two-way conversations with them. Here’s how to do it:
- Make sure they know it’s you – use your logo on all sites, create a handle they will recognise (eg @burgerbar.leeds) and don’t forget to add a link to your website.
- Use plenty of pictures that show people enjoying your restaurant, your chefs at work, new dishes, guests having fun (with their permission).
- Be chatty – write as if you were speaking to them at the table. Never rude, though! Post something every day.
- About Me – fill in this section with details about your restaurant.
- Be responsive – Like good posts and reply when people make comments. Share interesting posts from other sources.
- Be creative – think about publishing offers, recipes, and competitions.
If all this sounds time-consuming, you are right. Social media can be a black hole of time if you get sucked into it. So set strict time limits for yourself, and if you just can’t do it to your satisfaction, seek help from a digitally-savvy, trustworthy member of staff or even an external expert.
You can rely on your restaurant epos system to help in this area, too, by alerting you to good and bad reviews so you can respond to them quickly.
Listen to Jeff Bezos…
The Amazon man knows a thing or two about customer engagement, you’d have to admit. And he says this:
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little better.”
Invited guests to a party? That’s a nice way to think about your diners.
Set your engagement and loyalty programmes up the right way, work at them so guests know they are cherished, and they’ll start to feel the same way about your restaurant. Welcome to the beautiful, long-term customer relationships that spell success.