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How to build diner loyalty, retain customers, and enhance the customer experience

19 September 2019

By: Celine Goh

It takes more than just good customer service to ensure customer retention.

What are the hallmarks of a good customer experience? Crucial to your restaurant business, keeping your diner loyal is akin to building a strong relationship with your partner. You have to constantly keep things fresh, show your appreciation, and listen to their highs and woes.

Did you know? Retaining customers is less costly than acquiring new customers. In fact, it’s six to seven times less expensive.

An important step in your restaurant marketing strategy, learn how to groom first-timers into restaurant customers that not only keep coming back, but spread the word for you.

Try out these three hacks to groom first-timers or occasionals into fiercely loyals.

1. Start a loyalty programme

Here’s where the millennial slang of #treatyourself rightfully applies. While we love to treat ourselves to the best dining experiences, it’s even better when our efforts are reciprocated. Use a loyalty programme so diners keep coming back — either to level up in tiers, or collect points.

Think of your frequent flyer miles and the considerations you have when you book a flight. Do you lean towards flight options where you already have a miles account with? Yes — even if those flights are priced slightly higher, the rewards outweigh the higher fees. Similarly, when choosing a restaurant, diners will gravitate towards yours if they already have an existing loyalty membership tied to it. Three-quarters of loyal customers are likely to recommend a brand to their social circle; with 70% of them owing the recommendation reason to a good loyalty programme.

2. Keep lines of communication open

It’s important to communicate with your diners in ways they want. While it’s crucial to reach out to diners on promotions and campaigns such as new menus or chefs, it’s also important to know how they’d like to be reached. While creating an email newsletter is a must, it’s equally important to ensure that you target audiences so that your messaging can be tailored. For example, choose to send lunch promotions to your lunch crowd, and your brunch specials to your weekend diners.

Allow diners to choose what sort of communications they prefer, and how often. Curate your email lists by collecting data on ground with surveys, or from data provided through third party apps or platforms.

Another key thing to ensure is open communication. Don’t make it a one-way street — open your restaurant to comments and suggestions, either via social media or email messaging channels.

3. Show them you care

As with all relationships, diners want and need to feel appreciated. Show your heartfelt gratitude with restaurant deals, discount codes or an exclusive perks on special occasions or festivities. Collect valuable diner information that leads to customised rewards, such as complimentary dessert or drinks on their birthday, or a discount for a festive menu on a public holiday.

Want to find out how you can increase customer loyalty? Learn about our Chope products, and subscribe to Chope For Restaurants to never miss out on tips, updates, and more.


Celine Goh

Celine is a freelance writer, brand marketer, and sports enthusiast. She’s all about stories, healthy living, and chatting up new strangers — oh, she says hi.


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