September 11 2014 – Robert Fiumara
A recent study by Deloitte, a financial consultant and advisory service for major business groups, found that the majority of restaurant loyalty programs were largely underutilized and could be significantly more effective than they currently are in growing and building a loyal customer base.
Incentives and Loyalty Programs Are Easy To Implement and Effective to Use
The survey found that, of roughly 4,000 respondents, 50 percent belonged to one or more restaurant loyalty programs. In comparison, 78 percent were participants in airline loyalty programs, and a whopping 70 percent were reportedly members of hotel loyalty programs. So, why does food get such a hard break?
When selecting for those who did belong to restaurant loyalty programs, 74 percent of them said that they did not participate in a program offered by their favorite restaurant, either because such a program was not offered or because they weren’t sure if one was even available. Other data was equally problematic for those whose job it is to grow these programs. 43 percent of respondents said that the restaurants they visit do not offer loyalty programs, and another 48 percent said that they have no information about the loyalty programs that may be available where they often eat.
Where do we go from here? It’s obviously that these programs are ridiculously underutilized, and either need to have their availability better communicated to customers and guests or that they’re simply not used. In either case, restaurants are missing out on an easy and effective way to build their customer base.
Central to every customer’s dining experience is value. If promoted effectively, reward and loyalty programs give consumers a greater impression of your value. I know that I personally enjoy such loyalty programs, and the numbers suggest that I’m not alone in this. When a customer feels like they’re getting a bit more out of their interaction, and that you appreciate their patronage and show them that, they’re more likely to visit. Incentivizing this with little bonuses, such as a free entrée after a number of visits is a good way to do this.
Loyalty programs that are clearly laid out are a way to gain customer interaction in a way that is completely unintrusive. It blends traditional channels of interaction with new market trends to build brand connection and sympathy. Likewise, these programs offer restaurants unique opportunities to personalize a guest’s experience. When someone utilizes one of these reward programs, you are able to offer them things like a free beverage or dessert as a birthday or anniversary present. These sorts of small gestures build goodwill, and drive brand affinity.
Taking Advantage of These Programs Will Build a Stronger Loyalty Base
These programs are simple to implement and even easier to use. It builds customer loyalty at little expense and garners significant good will. By emphasizing your loyalty program, you can build a more loyal customer base.