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How to drive customer loyalty

With new restaurants opening what seems like every other day and with more and more shoppers going online, customer loyalty is becoming increasingly important. To help operators encourage customers to re-visit we’ve put together a brief list of what drives customer loyalty in this technology age.

Worthy loyalty scheme
The key is creating a loyalty scheme which consumers deem worthwhile without compromising profits. Operators should shy away from schemes that give users a percentage off every time they dine or shop and instead focus on giving customers incentive to come back. Loyalty cards are an easy place to start but be careful, as many people don’t want a wallet full of cards, invest in a online system for those who want to participate but don’t want the clutter. The reward also needs to be more significant than a free drink or shopping points that don’t seem to ever amount to anything, for example burger restaurants could offer diners one free burger for every five that are purchased. 

Build brand identity
Presence online and within the local community is an important factor in encouraging loyalty amongst consumers. This element becomes more difficult for large restaurant and retail chains to achieve as things like website and social media are managed by head offices. However independent stores and eateries, including pubs, should be ensuring they are active on social media and encouraging people to engage online. Running competitions on social media and advertising events online is a great way to remind people who you are and remind them to visit again. With so many different store and eatery options available consumers need these little reminders in their online world in order to stay loyal.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to drive customer loyalty in both hospitality and retail has nothing to do with the consumer; instead it comes down to quality of service. In restaurants, the difference between an attentive server and a lax server can hugely impacts diner’s decision to stay loyal or never make a repeat visit. Likewise in retail, one rude staff member can make a shopper swear off that store forever. It’s important to ensure customers experience is the number one priority, because it doesn’t matter how good the food is or how nice the clothes are if consumers aren’t happy with the service.

Keep in touch
Most retailers and restaurants will have accumulated a substantial database of customer details including their birthday, shopping/eating preferences, email address and phone number. Provided customers have opted in for marketing purposes there’s no reason why operators shouldn’t be taking advantage of this data. Offer discounts for birthdays and anniversaries or send an email with new menu items or products when they’ve not visited in a while. Marketing components of CRM systems are designed to automate this process and make it easier to connect with customer and encourage repeat visits.