People have numerous options for dining out, so restaurants need to go above and beyond to show customer appreciation. They have to rise above their competition to offer an outstanding experience from start to finish.
When customers decide to eat at your restaurant, they don't only expect delicious food and drinks. They’re also hoping for an outstanding dining experience where they feel valued.
Word of Mouth
When people have a memorable dining experience, they share it with friends and family. Many people have a favorite restaurant or café, and the staff serving them is one of the reasons they cherish it.
Good word of mouth can differentiate between a successful restaurant with dedicated customers and a failed business. It's important to emphasize customer satisfaction in restaurant industry establishments to keep your customers loyal.
Showing Customer Appreciation on a Budget
When brainstorming for ideas on how to improve customer satisfaction in restaurants, consider the little things that you can do to express gratitude. Studies have shown that customers who feel unappreciated are unlikely to return.
It’s vital to reward their loyalty, but you can do it without breaking the bank.
Here are 10 tips for showing customer appreciation on a budget:
1. Get to Know Your Existing Customers
Customer appreciation must first focus on keeping existing customers happy. When you see a familiar face, chat with them. Some guests become regular customers and become part of your daily restaurant operations.
Learn your regular customers’ first names and a bit about them. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way in making them feel valued. It can also create a familiar atmosphere in your restaurant that makes them feel like part of your family.
2. Start A Loyalty Program
Let your customers know you appreciate them with discounts and other benefits. Some restaurants use a swipe card or punch card system, while others offer discounts through email. Offer some branded merchandise, such as a t-shirt or a bag that will also help promote your restaurant.
Send them an email thanking them for becoming loyal customers. Building loyalty will keep them interested in what you have to offer them next.
3. Recognize A Customer of The Month
Use your loyalty program to create a customer database. At the end of each month, check your sales records to see who spent the most money at your restaurant.
Reward them by giving them free merchandise or special recognition on your social media page. Not only will your customer feel appreciated, but other customers will keep this in mind when they think about dining out.
4. Offer A Birthday Discount
Show your customers some love by offering them a discount on their birthday. It could establish your restaurant as their regular spot to celebrate each year.
You could email them a discount code or a gift voucher valid for the week of their birthday. They’ll invite family and friends along, and you can bring those guests on board as loyal patrons.
5. Listen to Your Customers
Nobody is perfect, and restaurants can't offer flawless service at all times. Be open to feedback and show a willingness to improve.
Consider monitoring comments on review platforms and responding to them. When a customer shares something positive, take the time to thank them for their post. If a customer shares something negative, let them know you've heard their feedback.
6. Connect With Customers on Social Media
Most people use some form of social media. Invite them to connect and add your restaurant to their daily feed. There are plenty of good restaurant marketing ideas for leveraging social media.
Offer a discount to someone who posts a photo at your restaurant. Give out free swag and ask them to tag themselves wearing it. These are just a few ways you can make customers feel valued and promote your restaurant.
7. Place A Candy Dish At Your Register
A small gesture like offering candy or mints to your guests can make them happy when leaving your restaurant.
Bags of treats are inexpensive and provide a nice touch. They also serve a practical purpose by giving your customers a sweet taste in their mouths after dining at your establishment. It sounds easy because it is, but it's one of the small details that can help your restaurant stand out.
8. Give Your Customers A Gift
Focus on inventory reduction and surprise your customers by offering them something free. Got appetizers you didn't need to cook for that birthday party yesterday? Prepare them for your guests as a complimentary bite when they enter your restaurant. By doing some recipe costing with your executive chef and sous chef, you can better determine which stock you won't end up using.
9. Practice Good Customer Service
Train your staff to practice good customer service skills. Remember to say “please” and “thank you” and show genuine concern for their dining experience.
Not every person is a “people person,” but everyone can learn the basics of providing good customer service. Being polite and understanding your customer's needs will show empathy.
10. Share Their Stories
Include your customers’ experiences in your case studies on your website. Your regular customers enjoy dining at your restaurant and may be willing to tell everyone why.
Make them the stars of your case studies while promoting your restaurant. It's really a win-win situation for everyone.
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
These are all effective ways to show customer appreciation on a budget. By combining a few or all of these strategies, you can build loyalty among your regular patrons. You can also offer potential customers some added value for visiting your restaurant.
In addition to serving them great food and drinks, you’ll be building a mutually beneficial relationship with them that could last for many years.