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Today’s customers can be your best friend or worst enemy. In an age where one shared bad experience can go viral and bring heaps of negative attention onto a brand, it’s important to understand what’s bringing customers through your front doors and what’s driving them away. As a frequent restaurant visitor, I’ve experienced behaviors from brands that were more likely to turn me elsewhere than to bring me in to eat.
Here are three reasons why I may have stopped eating at your restaurant:
1. You sent me kids offers before I had children. Kids eat free promotions are a great way to drive traffic from families, particularly on days when business is slower than usual. However, if you’re running this kind of campaign, make sure that it’s going to guests who can take advantage of it. Without the means to collect data and segment your audience, you end up sending offers like this to everyone, which all-but guarantees any guest without kids will avoid your brand on a night when families with children make up a large percentage of the dining room.
Moreover, sending messages that have nothing to do with the person receiving them can damage the relationships you work so hard to nurture. Relevant communication can strengthen relationships and increase guest loyalty. Gaining insights into buying behaviors will allow you to better segment your guest population and ensure that your single guests aren’t getting invited to join you on a night filled with hungry kids.
2. I had a poor mobile experience. I’m sure I’m not alone when in saying my phone plays a significant role in my dining experience. Whether I’m out and researching where I should eat in my immediate area or using a mobile ordering feature to skip the line, I am more prone to select a restaurant with a fast, user-friendly experience. When I encounter a restaurant without a mobile-responsive website that requires me to pinch and zoom just to look at the menu, I’m probably going to pass.
Additionally, if I’m required to use more than one mobile app to get the full guest experience, I probably won’t bother using any of them. It’s hard enough to get guests to use one mobile application, so why make users download an app for online ordering and a different app for loyalty program management? I encountered this once, and that was the last time I engaged with that brand on my mobile device. In fact, that was the last time I ate there. When making decisions regarding your mobile platform, always ask ‘will this make it easier or harder to do business with us?’
3. Your service is too slow. Line speed is a concern shared by every restaurant operator. Many claim this as a reason why they are hesitant to implement loyalty programs, as they fear that increased guest interaction will lengthen transaction times. However, with the right technology and program structure, line speed should not be a concern.
For starters, your program should prevent members from gaming the system. I once visited a coffee shop with a visit-based program and stood behind a customer who rang up multiple items on multiple transactions, just to maximize their visit credits and loyalty program points. This is the kind of behavior your program should strive to eliminate, as it will cause people to go elsewhere rather than wait in a slow line.
Furthermore, today’s guests expect a quick and convenient ordering experience. Guests increasingly prefer the ability to skip the line entirely by ordering ahead or getting delivery, even from concepts that traditionally have not offered delivery services. This is why more full-service restaurants are installing takeout windows and drive-thru fast food concepts are partnering with third-party delivery services. In 2018, you should think convenience over culture. What is the most convenient way for guests to get a satisfactory meal from your restaurant? If you maintain this mindset, you’ll continue to receive my business.
Ultimately, maintaining guest loyalty comes down to knowing your guests and meeting them where they want to go. By allowing the guest to interact with you in the way they prefer and collecting the data you need to communicate with them in meaningful, relevant ways, you’ll see far fewer people like me walk out the door and into another restaurant!
I discussed these three reasons and more in the webinar “Why I Stopped Eating At Your Restaurant (and How You Could Have Stopped Me From Leaving.)” Click here to view the presentation and learn more.
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