There was a time when visiting a restaurant was the ultimate luxury. The options for entertainment were few, the diner was not a connected opinion maker and the legends about the chef and the restaurant were driven by a few elite experts. So if your restaurant had something exclusive to offer, you could very well be attracted to its much coveted beauty, with many wooing and vying for her attention. Only then could the restaurants afford to flirt their way into a customers’ heart, without worrying about seeking a long term “engagement”.
Cut to today, and the advent of technology with all its social and internet backed avatars in the form of Facebook, Uber and Google, have changed the romance of restaurants from slow and playful, to a serious commitment. And if you aren’t in it for the long haul, well, you might as well keep out!
The digitally connected diner has an abundance of options, social conversations and various offers to choose from. What’s more, the consumer expectations too have evolved at lightening speed, ensuring that restaurants who aren’t committed to engaging with their diners effectively, lose their customers.
Great service alone is not enough, nor is serving exceptional food at your outlet the only criteria to lure diners. These two factors are a given, and are expected to be on point with today’s demanding customers. But what will set your restaurant apart is a third important piece of the puzzle, it’s how you woo & engage with your customers. How do you build this essential and valuable relationship? Here are some ways to get you started:
Engage using emotional connection
The dining experience of a customer is a combination of many factors, only one of which, interestingly, is food. A friendly, welcoming interaction with the owner or your trained staff can not only make the customer associate the restaurant with a person, it will also add an exclusive & intimate vibe to your service.
Social media has become an essential part of any business today, allowing you to deepen engagement with your patrons. Having an app for your restaurant will help you in effectively share fresh content, responding to feedbacks and inquiries, post up to date offers, and introduce new items on the menu, etc.
Gift of love
Free stuff is always a good thing and winning stuff makes us feel special! Research shows that rewards and winning releases dopamine, which hits the reward network in the brain making us feel better. So think of a fun and engaging contest to make your customers feel happy and enhance their overall dining experience. Those freebies will give them a new, enriching memory, and create a lasting bond with your client.
Celebrate with your customers
Marketing strategy aside, you are where you are because your customers believe in you, so include them in your celebrations and remember to make them feel special on their important dates. Discounts, Deals or an Invitation to join in the festivities really show the customer that they are more than just a ringing cash register for you, deepening customer loyalty.
Meet the Chefs! See the passion behind the kitchen doors! This gesture will make your guest feel like an insider with special privileges, who got a special tour. It not only displays your respect for your team thereby earning you more respect from your client base, it will also humanize the Rogan josh when they think “Umm! Chef Sebastian has outdone himself with this one”.
Create engaging content for your newsletter to ensure that your customers read it rather than just pushing it aside. Include some in-house recipes, secret tricks from the Chefs table, some fun facts or information about a particular cuisine. You can incentivize the subscription and that’s another step to building brand recall and building a lasting relationship with your customers.
Reward Loyalty! At the end of a great meal & a wonderful experience, encourage the customer to join your loyalty program while the bill payment is underway. Their noteworthy evening is just coming to a close and the joy is still fresh. Add a nice touch by giving a little token of appreciation; discount on the next meal or a free bottle of wine. This will ensure your customers return to your restaurant.
Come to think of it, isn’t customer engagement akin to any other important long term relationship in our lives? The one that deserve constant care, attention, love and motivation to help it grow! No wonder the word “engagement” sticks best when it comes to getting committed to this particular aspect of business.