My guest, my friend – how to encourage and reward diner loyalty
We know diners enjoy great food and superb service – but did you know that almost 80% say it’s actually technology that improves their guest experience?
A recent survey discovered this is particularly true when the technology delivers speedy service personalised for the individual diner.
Well, we all like to feel special, don’t we?
The rise in popularity of casual dining has already been well-documented. It’s partly driven by busy lives, and partly thanks to the arrival of hungry young people in the eating-out market who are used to getting what they want, right now.
Anything that encourages business in today’s tough trading environment is valuable, and building a relationship with your diners is even more crucial today than it has ever been.
If you know diners’ preferences, you can reward their loyalty and encourage repeat business with targeted offers that you know will hit the mark.
So far, so good. But turning your guest into your friend can be tricky when casual diners typically linger in a restaurant for less than 45 minutes.
Relationship-building is something good restaurateurs do naturally, but that talent is now being given a boost, thanks to the digital transformation of the industry and the evolution of EPOS technology from a till system to something far more feature-rich.
So I’ve examined the typical modern-day diner digital experience, and come up with 6 modern-day ways to capture the affection of casual diners.
They’re out there and they’re HUNGRY. So what do they do? Look at their mobile phone, of course.
Will they find your restaurant there? Yes, if you use clever apps such as Zapper and OpenTable that not only give them reviews and menus but also let them book right away, in a click.
On the other end of the line, your restaurant EPOS technology is working 24/7 taking their booking – and storing all their details into the bargain. I’ll talk more about that later…
Your party arrives. Thanks to your EPOS technology, you know who they are, and you can greet them personally.
Table technology helps you get them seated quicker because you can see your floorplan on an iPad in real-time.
And if there’s going to be a wait, you can manage their expectations by telling them exactly how long it’s going to be, and offering them a drink while waiting.
This reduces the incidence of walk-outs substantially.
Analysis shows that casual dining worldwide was already achieving a spend of £5 billion by the end of 2016 – and it’s grown ever since.
But research by Barclaycard shows that the need for speed is making customers more impatient than ever – prioritising quick service (37%) overvalue (21%) and menu choice (33%).
EPOS technology means your staff can take the order at tableside and send it immediately to the kitchen so it can be prepared straight away.
The technology ensures the order is always accurate, no matter how many customers are dining, and additions or amendments can be easily made – upselling prompts are made automatically.
Even more importantly, there’s no trekking back and forth to the kitchen with orders, so your delivery staff can spend their valuable time interacting with the diners.
The food is delivered quickly, and it’s delicious. That’s because restaurant technology provides reports that capture menu trends and sort out what’s selling and what’s not.
It’s good news for the customer, who gets to eat the most popular dishes. And it’s great news for you, because you reduce kitchen waste and benefit from accurate forecasts that can inform your procurement decisions.
So once those plates are clean, your guests now want to be out of the door to get on with the rest of their night or day.
The same Barclaycard survey mentioned earlier found that 50% of people get cheesed off when their bill doesn’t arrive quickly enough.
EPOS technology not only means your staff can prepare the bill accurately at tableside – even dividing it up easily.
Customer convenience receives a huge boost because they can pay by debit or credit card, or even apps such as Zapper. Your staff can print out the receipt at a remote printer.
So the party is gone in a jiffy, and your tables are once again free for use. Table turn can be increased substantially.
Your diners are gone, but thanks to the data capture power of your restaurant management technology, their contact details and preferences are safely stored.
It means you can create customer loyalty and reward programmes to bring them back again and again with the help of targeted marketing.
What’s more, your restaurant management system helps you keep track of what they’re saying about you on social media, so you can be even more proactive.
Today’s casual diners – the Millennial youngsters, the families, the busy businesspeople – actually WANT you to know them, because it works for them.
It means you know exactly what they want, and you deliver it to them quickly, fulfilling every demand they can make for a casual dining outlet.
That satisfying experience encourages repeat business all by itself – and your restaurant management system makes sure you develop loyalty programmes to build on it.
Turn your diners into friends with the help of technology. Whether you’re terrific at Tex-Mex or bang-on with a burger, it’s a winning recipe.
Find out more about EPOS software