Is it time to ditch the punch card? According to the National Restaurant Association, more than half of consumers are already using their smartphones to redeem rewards or special deals at least a few times a year.
If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to take your restaurant rewards program digital. Here are a few components to look for when launching a restaurant loyalty program.
One of the key benefits of a digital loyalty program is the opportunity to collect detailed information about your customers’ dining habits. With this data, you can see which menu items customers really love, which rewards are most popular and which offers just aren’t working out so well – and adjust accordingly.
If you’re planning on collecting this type of data, be sure customers opt into the program and demonstrate how this data will ultimately benefit them. For example, use customer-level data to offer personalized promotions and rewards. If some customers always order a specific dessert, you can offer them a free dessert with their next purchase. Your customers get the dessert they love, while you’re generating more orders.
Most restaurant customers always have their smartphones on hand, so a mobile-friendly loyalty strategy can go a long way. Some customers won’t want to print out an email reward and physically bring it to the restaurant, so offer the option for customers to easily pull up rewards, points and digital loyalty cards on their mobile devices.
An effective loyalty program needs participants. When launching a restaurant loyalty program, think of where your customers tend to access information about your restaurant. Do customers look to your restaurant website or Facebook? Promote your loyalty program online and encourage dine-in customers to sign up once they’ve paid the check.
Customers love to feel appreciated, so small gestures such as offering a free meal on a customer’s birthday or $10 off once the customer has spent a specified amount can go a long way. These personalized rewards make customers feel special and appreciated and often encourage them to share their experience with friends and family.
Everyone loves a good game. Turn your loyalty program into a game and add an extra level of entertainment to the customer experience. Consider using a badging or ranking system. As customers rack up visits to your restaurant, they rise in rank, and the higher they go, the better the rewards they receive.
Other ways to bring “gamification” into your restaurant loyalty program include incorporating mini-games, such as letting customers roll a set of virtual dice or pick a card every fifth time an order is placed online for the chance to win a free dessert, appetizer or other menu item.