It has been over four months since the nationwide lockdown was imposed, and as restaurants slowly open for business, they find themselves to be in a drastically new reality. To begin with, food deliveries and takeaways have emerged as the only permissible options for restaurants and hence are now a critical part of the long-term business strategy. The risks of being overdependent on aggregators also came to notice, and thus restaurants realized the importance of implementing their own online ordering systems. And, it has taken significant changes to incorporate social distancing measures, strict safety and hygiene protocols to reopen restaurants for dining.
But, customers are still battling a mix of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, readiness, confusion and stress, their interaction with restaurants are still highly driven by their emotions. This has helped us understand the fact that during the pandemic and even post-corona, the emotional relevance of a brand to its customers is essential to its success. This emotional relevance is closely looped with and is a consequential product of customer trust. And, implementing a customer loyalty program helps you achieve exactly that level of trust by establishing long-lasting and meaningful relationships with your customers.
Still wondering why you need a loyalty program now more than ever? Consider these:
Due to the pandemic, customer confidence is at an all-time low, they’re apprehensive about trying new restaurants and experimenting with new foods. Therefore, acquisition costs are higher than ever, and strategies are uncertain. But, with a loyalty program you can shift your focus to retaining customers that have already ordered or visited you, that too at a fraction of the acquisition cost, rather than investing in acquiring new customers that are less likely to interact with you.
Apart from incentivising customers to purchase, loyalty programs also increase the average amount spent by them as they’re actively working towards earning points required to redeem rewards. Not only that, loyalty programs also increase the frequency of purchases made by customers. Thus, ensuring that rewards are strategically set up and most importantly in line with customer wants will help access a bigger portion of their wallets.
By implementing a loyalty program, you’re essentially researching the needs, wants and motivations of your customers. Through trial and error with rewards you offer, you can understand the incentives that drive your customers and those which don’t. These rewards are often items on your menu and hence help you understand their popularity compared to each other.
Extend your loyalty program to customers at every touchpoint of your restaurant, whether they’re visiting you in person or ordering online from you. Hence, it allows you to reach a wider audience. It allows you to convert customers that have purchased online into in-store visitors and vice versa. This is extremely useful as it allows you to create a steady traffic of visitors at your restaurant post the lockdown.
Not only do loyalty programs incentivize the first purchase, but they also help you to ensure customers stick around for longer by gratifying and appreciating them. They turn your new customers into regulars and then high-spending VIPs. And, these VIPs are your biggest marketing arsenal, they will share their appreciation for your restaurant with their friends and family. The more appreciated that these loyal customers the more they recommend your business to others close to them, hence creating a cycle.
You only have to put in minimal initial efforts, choose a loyalty program type (spend, tier, cashback, etc.) that fits your restaurant and set up rewards based on your understanding of customer preferences. But, once it’s active, the loyalty program runs itself and all you have to do is ensure the in-store staff records the customer mobile number correctly. Since the loyalty program is integrated with your online ordering and point of sale systems, all relevant transactional data is recorded for the corresponding customer.
Lastly, loyalty programs incite a sense of ownership towards your restaurant amongst your customers. These customers are your biggest ambassadors and the most honest critics as well. They will provide you with valuable feedback on your services and products. And, it goes without saying that post the lockdown, the first place they’ll visit will be yours - theirs.
It’s no secret that loyalty programs work. They are critical to your growth, retention and brand reputation and hence success. Most importantly they help you build an emotional connection with customers, which is essential given the pandemic. If you haven’t already, set up a loyalty program for you customers today!
If you’re a Thrive merchant, you already have access to Hashtag Loyalty and thus the ability to set up a program. Need help? Simply reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org