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Customer Experience

3 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty at Your Restaurant


Tiffany Regaudie

Did you know adopting a loyalty program for your customers can increase sales by 30%?

You work so hard to get new customers in the door: you spend more on signage to get more foot traffic, your social media presence is on point, and you’re always making sure your menu is on trend. But what are you doing to make sure your customers keep coming back to spend more on your food? Keep in mind that acquiring new customers is often more expensive than keeping the ones you have, so treating customers like gold can also be a cheaper way to increase sales.  

The good news is that restaurant POS technology and apps have made it easier for restaurants to create loyalty programs that affect bottom line and allow for the tracking of success. Loyalty programs empower restaurants to:

  • Reward their customers with points to encourage repeat business and higher spending
  • Communicate with their customers via text and email to keep them engaged
  • Collect valuable customer information that leads to customized rewards  

A great restaurant loyalty program will keep your customers returning to your restaurant – and spending more once they’re there. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details of how you can create the best loyalty program for your customers.

1. Reward Your Customers with Points

Ever play Candy Crush or Farmville? Ever experience the rush of snapping up 10,000 points for acquiring some rare item you’ve been trying to find for ages?

People love playing games – and points are the most common form of currency within games around the world. So it’s no accident that businesses have adopted a points system to reward their customers – this process is called “gamification”.

Loyalty cards and apps are key to powering up your restaurant through gamification. Use a loyalty program to enable customers to rack up points for every dollar spent, with the option to redeem or keep collecting. Loyalty programs are great for making your customers feel special via points collection  – and gamification is all about encouraging customers to gather as many points as they can, so that they keep coming back to spend more.

So make coming to your restaurant a game. Reward your customers with double the points if they visit your restaurant two days in a row, or five times the points if they invite a friend to join the loyalty program. The more points or rewards your customers earn, the more they’ll want to come back to earn more points. When you pair a loyalty program with an exceptional customer experience, you’re creating a dream environment for repeat business.

man looking at his mobile phone while walking

2. Keep in Touch with Your Customers via Email and Text

Fifty-one percent of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication.

Driving loyalty requires communicating with your customers in ways they want. More restaurants are now using targeted communication via email and text to bring customers back for promotions, happy hours, events, or for their birthdays. A first-class loyalty program lets you create custom groups for communication, which will help you identify customers based on certain criteria. For example, if you’re about to release a new premium menu item and want to let your big spenders know, your loyalty program should be able to facilitate that communication.  

The key to email and text marketing is meaningful exchange. If your customer likes your restaurant enough to give up their email address or phone number, it’s your job to provide them with something of value in return.

Encourage sign ups through a loyalty program by offering a percentage off their current meal. If you ask them for information like their date of birth, make sure it’s clear that they get something on their birthday, like a free dessert. Then when it comes time to send your customer a text with the offer, they won’t feel like you’ve invaded their space – they’ll feel like they’ve gained something of value for trusting you with their information. 

3. Collect Data on What Your Customers Want

Gamification and communication need one more ingredient to truly have an effect: customization. And when you know your customers, you’re truly in the realm of building meaningful relationships by personalizing their experience with your restaurant’s brand.

An effective loyalty program aggregates data on how your customers are responding to promotional offers and gathering rewards. For example, if most of your customers come back on their birthdays to redeem their offers, you know you have a shot at getting them to spend more once they’re in the door. You may want to further gamify their birthday experience by offering them double the amount of points if they spend a certain dollar amount at your restaurant on their birthday.

The possibilities are endless – but you need data to see how you can make the most of your loyalty program to drive business.

Creating a memorable customer experience is an art and a science – but ultimately it’s about making your customers feel special. A great loyalty program uses data to tell you more about your customer so you can reward them in ways that are meaningful to them.

Gamification, communication, and customization – these are the ingredients of a restaurant loyalty program that will keep your customers coming through your door and spending more once they’re there. Use technology to drive customer loyalty, and you may be able to shelve your new customer marketing strategy for a rainy day.

Tiffany was the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she shared knowledge with restaurateurs on how to run their business. She's passionate about traveling the world and getting to know communities through great food.

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