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3 Ways a Loyalty Program Can Boost Diners’ Experiences

Achieving customer loyalty is the ultimate goal of any restaurateur, and for good reason. Lowering customer churn rate by even 5% can increase profitability by 25-125%.  To stay afloat in the hospitality business, it’s critical to develop relationships with diners that keep them coming back time and time again.
However, fostering loyalty isn’t just about a one-night promotion that gets a lot of customers in your door. It’s about making connections with your customers, providing superior service, and making each guest feel special the moment they enter your restaurant.
One strategy for boosting customer loyalty is offering a robust and personalized loyalty program. In fact, 37% of millennial customers prefer to receive discounts instead of just earning points. Whether this loyalty program is delivered through a weekly email blast or a dynamic app, the rewards need to provide concrete benefits and be easy to redeem in order to boost customer retention.
This article from CAKE, a Sysco company, will explore three ways a thoughtful loyalty program can improve the customer experience.
Personalize Rewards
Make each customer feel like a VIP by creating customized loyalty programs. This practice can show existing customers they are valued and also foster loyalty in new guests. To craft a unique loyalty program, take advantage of the wealth of data stored within a restaurant POS system or guest management system, such as customers’ favorite dishes, wines, and nights to dine out.
Domino’s is one restaurant that is already taking advantage of this strategy: Their “Piece of the Pie” rewards program tracks orders made online or through their mobile app. Members receive discounts and bonus offers based on their past purchases, and can easily track points earned through the mobile app.
Using customer data, restaurants can target the right customers with promotions, discounts, and coupons based on their ordering history. For example, you might offer a 25% off coupon for the guest’s favorite bottle of wine, or a discount to try a new dish that just came on the menu and is similar to their favorite. Not a lot of businesses offer this – In fact, only 11% of loyalty programs offer personalized rewards based on a customer’s purchase history – so you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.
Create Special Opportunities
Restaurants can also use loyalty programs as an opportunity to offer unique rewards that aren’t available anywhere else. This strategy will make your customers more apt to join the program and excited about redeeming their rewards, surpassing the benefits of a loyalty program that only dishes out points for money spent or number of visits.
Try offering a special “Couples’ Night” deal just before a diner’s anniversary date for a discount on a bottle of wine, or a “Birthday Special” coupon to come in during the week of the diner’s birthday for a complementary champagne toast. Either way, these unique and special rewards will entice customers to celebrate big events at your restaurant.
Bottom Line: Saving Money
From the customer’s perspective, loyalty programs have one purpose above all else: they save money. To help your customers achieve maximum saving potential, make the program easy to join and ensure rewards are easy to redeem.
This can be done through frequent email reminders to visit, listing which discounts are still available and how many points they’ve earned. Be sure to input the rewards directly into your guest management platform so when the customer comes to visit, any applicable rewards can be redeemed automatically.
No customer can argue with quality rewards that help them save a little money where they would’ve been spending anyway, such as on their birthday or a date night.
Final Thoughts
Investing in a thoughtful loyalty program can pay off significantly in the long term. If customers reap valuable rewards when they visit your restaurant, they are more likely to become long-term diners. This is especially important when you consider that repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers, and refer favorite restaurants to family and friends at a 107% rate. Who doesn’t want higher restaurant profits and free word-of-mouth advertising?
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