If you go on a first date but aren’t able to establish a connection, it’s usually no big deal. After all, there are plenty of other fish in the sea! But when you operate a restaurant and you’re not compatible with your guests, that’s a different story. Those are the fish in the sea — and your business is only as strong as your compatibility with your customers.
From grocery stores and restaurants to alternative meal sources like Blue Apron, guests have a vast number of options when it’s time to eat, and the list is growing all the time. And with that many options guests will quickly lose interest in a restaurant if they encounter anything that disrupts a convenient and pleasant dining experience.
The problem for restaurants is that in many cases they are disrupting their customers’ experiences — creating friction in what otherwise should be a smooth and easy interaction — without realizing it.
Let’s explore four common phrases you might be saying that could cause this kind of friction. On the surface, all sound innocent enough, but they also reveal misunderstandings about their customers.
The first phrase is one we hear all the time, and that’s that “loyalty doesn’t work.” It’s been proven time and time again that a well-managed loyalty program can produce significant financial returns. So, where does this belief come from? There are a variety of causes, but the most common ones tend to involve focusing on tactics over strategy.
Restaurants might think first about how their guests will interact with a loyalty program instead of the program’s structure. It’s important to first build a loyalty program strategy that motivates guests and yields incremental visits and spend, and then concentrate on how guests will use it.
The second phrase you’re likely to hear from restaurants that can’t connect with their guests is that “Cards are antiquated.” The thinking is that, in today’s technology-driven world, no one wants a new plastic card to keep in their purses or wallets.
In reality, giving guests more ways to interact with the brand increases loyalty participation, and in a well-managed loyalty program, the more members you have, the more likely the program will deliver strong financial results. Just because a new app seems hip, doesn’t mean that it should be the only way that a guest can interact with your restaurant. When that’s the case, you create friction for a large percentage of people who don’t want to interact with you via your website.
The next two phrases are likely to surprise you, but they’re also two of the most telling factors of restaurants that aren’t compatible with their guests. Those two phrases are “We need a great mobile app” and “We must cater to our best guests.” Anyone with their finger on the pulse of technological innovation might say the former, and anyone with a surface level understanding of loyalty programs might say the latter. However, both relate to the biggest mistake one can make when managing a loyalty strategy – failure to support the guests who will make or break the program.
For further insight into this topic, check out our press release.