Channeling the Customer Experience and Restaurant Sales with Loyalty Programs

The digital age has brought restaurants, shops, and banks to the customer’s fingertips. Everything is a click away. With the advent of a whole new space to sell, marketing has become more about engaging a customer than employing methods to find them.

Every restaurant that wants to stay relevant in today’s times has jumped on the online ordering bandwagon. A large chunk of customers who have shopped and banked from the comfort of their living room couch would love to be served their food right where they feel at home. However, with online ordering, there isn't much that a restaurant can do apart from quality food in a sophisticated packaging, delivered on time. This is where the need for an effective Loyalty Program arises!

Personality and Engage with your Customers with Loyalty Programs

When the customer is away from the restaurant, the ways in which the customer experience can be enhanced have to be rethought. In this era, the customer experience begins right from when they decide to eat out to their process of placing an order to finally receiving their favorite dish on time. This is where a restaurant can use a loyalty program to personalize the experience for their customer. With data that can be stored at a user level, personalization of options using past choices and offering rewards based on ordering patterns can greatly enhance the experience of a user trying to order in from a restaurant.

Personalized gifts, product synergies with ordering patterns and promotions using gamification are all ways to engage, nurture and cultivate loyalty among customers despite engaging with them virtually.

An important advantage of a loyalty program is the ability to understand what exactly a customer looks for by analyzing data available through their interaction with the software. The choices a customer makes, the searches they perform, the interval in the process that takes the longest to execute are some of the important pieces of information available. With this information, it is possible to customize content for a customer, deliver value by providing them with the right information at the right time. In addition to this, there are many time intervals where the customer is required to wait which is frustrating. An effective way to manage this wait time is by providing timely updates about the progress of the order. This is also a way to engage with the customer further to forge a bond with them as a brand which is what ultimately results in converting a customer into a regular client.

Success Stories

One of the success stories in the pizza business is Domino’s Pizza with their multichannel campaign that awarded loyalty points at different points in a sale covering all channels like voice, twitter, and SMS including the traditional in-store purchases. To engage further with their users, they also released a mobile game which was free which allowed users to further earn points by completing challenged in the game. Such effective methods of engaging the customer propelled the Domino’s Pizza stock to catapult to $250 in 2018 from a rock bottom price of $3 in 2008. The pizza chain took the most frustrating time in the delivery lifecycle of a pizza i.e. the waiting time and used a tracker which will tell the customer at what stage of delivery their pizza that they are eagerly waiting for is. Small ways to make the customer feel valued are enhancements like customizing the app, retain their choices for future orders, etc. Another important aspect that Dominoes struck a chord with their customer was the ‘Hotspots’ functionality which recognizes the fact that customers might get together at places other than their homes to share a delectable pizza. This catapulted Dominoes as the number one pizza preference during outdoor hangouts, parties, etc.

When one thinks of customer loyalty, another brand that immediately comes to mind is Starbucks. As a brand, Starbucks is the Apple of the restaurant industry with fierce loyalists. Apart from premium products, sustainable engagement with vendors, Starbucks also has a mobile marketing program enabling it to reap rich dividends as a modern brand. The coffee giant first launched a loyalty program in 2009 which had a card-based system which then extended to the mobile app in 2011. The payment app processed a whopping 42 million payments within its first 16 months. This is an example of the amount of customer loyalty Starbucks as a brand enjoys in the market. What is remarkable is how they have managed to not only attract but also retain their loyalists. This feat has definitely been aided by their choice to retain their customers by engaging with them digitally, using the advantages of modern technology.

Loyalty Programs Boost Sales

Over the last seven years, Starbucks has continuously updated their program to include birthday rewards, gold cards that are personalized, introducing days in which customers can earn twice the number of points which get converted into free products. The coffee giant has also taken advantage of the superior engagement provided by gamification and has included the same in their app. This rewards customers when they purchase different products which further enables the company to promote new additions to their menu. Their unique take on customer engagement and approaching it with fresh new perspectives that are rich in the understanding of their key customers has earned them many spots on Fast Company’s annual rankings of most innovative companies in the design list in 2014 and food list in 2017.

Experience Matters!

In the end, the experience a customer has while enjoying the first meal from a restaurant makes or breaks the possibility of getting a repeat order. As customer engagement is growing increasingly virtual, it is important for companies to use digital data to create a sense of personal engagement to strike a sense of loyalty with their customers. Loyalty programs deliver precisely this with their touchpoints with the customer that hold a wealth of information about them if used correctly.