28 June, 2017
Competition in the hospitality industry has increased in the last twelve months, according to a recent report in Restaurant & Catering magazine, and business owners are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. When choosing where to dine, customers are strongly influenced by prior customer experience. And not just their own—they’re likely to check what others are saying in online reviews and within their social networks. So it’s essential to give your customers an experience worth talking about.
While the key to a great customer experience will always be your in-venue customer service, many hospitality businesses are missing opportunities to extend this experience beyond the front door. Here are six ways you can delight your customers by running tailored promotions that encourage them to spread the word about your stellar service and keep coming back time after time.
1. Send them a birthday greeting…and a gift
If your point-of-sale (POS) system includes a loyalty or membership program, you’re probably already recording personal details such as names, email addresses and birthdays. Put this information to good use by sending your customers a branded email or text message wishing them a happy birthday a couple of weeks before the event. Include a small gift voucher for use on their birthday to entice them back, and don’t forget to mention any group booking or party catering options you offer.
2. Offer a bonus for your champions
Social media marketing is a big boost for most hospitality businesses, and if your customers are happy to do some of the work for you, it will make promoting your business much easier. Show them you appreciate their efforts by offering an in-venue bonus for customers who have liked your Facebook page, shared your post, or followed you on Instagram or Twitter.
3. Welcome your new members with a gift
When customers take the time to sign up with your loyalty program, they’re giving you valuable information that lets you make smarter business decisions over the short and long term. Return the favour by sending them a small gift to thank them for signing up. If you’re using membership cards, tags or barcodes, you can pre-load a small credit for your new members’ first visit, or offer ongoing special members’ rates.
4. Invite them back
Life gets busy sometimes, and even your most loyal customers aren’t immune. If they haven’t visited you for a while, let them know you miss them with a personalised invitation to come back, by SMS, email, or snail mail. If your hospitality management platform gives you access to their visit history, you can make them feel even more important by tailoring your message to their usual day and group size.
Example: “We miss you, Jane! Thursday nights haven’t been the same without your party of four. Here’s a $10 voucher to welcome you back.”
5. Know what’s important to them
If your customers have a history of supporting your New Year’s Day lunch or State of Origin nights, contact them early to let them know about upcoming events that may interest them. They’ll be delighted you thought of them, and you’ll be front of mind when they’re planning for the event—and for other occasions before then. (Bonus points if you know which team they support and include that in your messaging, but we don’t recommend guessing!)
6. Ask for their opinion
Restaurant and café staff are generally in the habit of asking about customer satisfaction either during or after meals. It’s an effective way to get feedback that you can act on immediately, but it’s also a chance to show customers that you’re making the effort to listen to them. You can do the same thing between visits, by sending short surveys to your customers asking what they loved, and what you can do better next time.
Your customer experience doesn’t need to end as soon as customers leave your venue, and it shouldn’t. By trying some or all of our tips, you’ll be able to delight your customers even when they’re not with you, and differentiate yourself from your competitors.