For any business, some of the most valuable customers are loyal ones. Not only do loyal customers increase sales, but they also are key players in word of mouth marketing for your restaurant. Diners loyal to your restaurant will recommend your restaurant to their friends and share photos of their meals on social media. They also return to your restaurant more frequently and are willing to spend more on their meals.
With so many benefits, increasing loyalty should be at the top of any restaurant marketing strategy. As our gift to you for the New Year, we’re sharing some of our secrets to success in customer loyalty.
Two Factors that Impact Return Visits to Restaurants
Nearly 90% of restauranteurs we surveyed this year said they value repeat visits over new visits, so it is important to understand what drives diners to return. Despite what you might believe, food is not the number one motivator for return visits.
With over 10,000 restaurant partners processing over 13.5 million customer transactions annually, Rewards Network believes understanding consumer behavior is the key to restaurant success. Our free, detailed report explains the two factors that actually influence return visits and how restaurant owners can influence consumers based on these findings.
Pay Attention to Dining Details
Focusing on the little things in your restaurant that will impact a customer’s dining experience will also influence whether the customer will return. If something about their experience doesn’t sit right with the diner at the end of their meal, they may remember only that issue when deciding where to dine out next time. Whether it’s through adding convenience by splitting a check, encouraging your servers to give personal recommendations from your menu, or extending your restaurant’s cleanliness to the restrooms, each of these small details add up to turn a first-time customer into a loyal diner.
Beware of Difficulties Leading to Disloyalty
Restauranteurs focused on creating loyalty must also watch out for factors in their businesses that create disloyalty. A CEB study published this year found that disloyalty among customers stems from needing repeated interactions to solve challenges, receiving generic service, having to repeat information, and the perception of how difficult it is to arrive at a solution. For restaurant owners, it is important to watch out for how easy it is for customers to find and enter your restaurant, read and order off your menu, and pay for their meals.
Tipping the Scale with Rewards
When given the choice between two nearly equal restaurants, our dining program members have told us that the restaurant with the rewards program could win their business. From the millions of restaurant survey responses we receive from our members every year, customers tell us that participation in the rewards program influenced their dining decision the majority of the time. Many of these members also take the time to write out thoughtful, detailed reviews of their experiences at our program restaurants. In addition to this valuable feedback, our members also spend on average 23% more than non-members to earn their rewards.
Embrace Consumer Passion for Rewards
Ultimately, the goal of customer loyalty is to motivate consumers to return more often and spend more when they do. Earning rewards of choice is becoming increasingly more important to drive this consumer behavior. The more passionately a diner feels about earning their rewards at your restaurant, the more likely they are to dine – and to even tell others about being able to earn rewards there.
Word spread about consumers earning rewards for dining at Rewards Network program restaurants when ABC News ran a Nightline story this year featuring “travel hacker” Bryce Conway. This passionate consumer and avid traveler raved to a national audience about how he earned airline miles dining at United MileagePlus® program restaurants.