Updated: Feb 17
Welcome to your second installment of how to achieve optimum customer retention within your food business.
Before we get started with this week’s content, we’d just like to thank you for signing up to this series of informal ramblings around retaining customers – we really value the time you’re putting into this, and hope you get much more out of it!
So, this week we’ll be looking at ‘The Personal Touch’. Now, everyone will think that they offer this, do this as standard or prides their business on it – but let’s take a real look into the personal touch and understand what’s going on here in the mind of the customer.
Dining remains one of the most intimate and important of human experiences – a celebration of good food, service, style, atmosphere, and of course good company. When you think about it, delivering a genuine personal experience in the food industry shouldn’t be that difficult, irrespective whether you’re a casual-dining and quick-service eatery or high-end restaurant space.
One difference that restaurants can make which really helps a customer convert into a returning customer is the personal touch.
There are a couple of key points at this stage that should be noted to support your quest to gain regular customers through using the personal touch
Customers are bound to return to a restaurant where they feel they are treated specially. So make it special with actions which support the personal touch you’re so looking for – knowing their drinks order before they ask, gaining insights around their interests and other small but effective actions.
Train your staff to be hospitable and welcoming in little ways like greeting the guests when they walk in and
seating them. Included in this is a whole piece around new staff induction processes and delivering your culture.
Customers feel at home if the host remembers their names or the waiter knows their favorite dish and ordering habit. Even things like remembering where customers prefer to sit can make a huge difference in the thinking process of a customer.
Familiar waiting staff results in higher customer retention and engagement. It has been seen that a turnover in the waiting staff results in an overall decrease in profits – so hire employees that share your ethos, you can always train for skills!
As technology has become more mainstream, accessible and mobile, how about trying additional techniques to really wow customers? So, with the power of a database or CRM system (something we’ll be looking into more next week) you could get to a stage where a super personal email goes out to a customer and says “Hey, we know you love your latte after your meal – you’ve had one every visit since February. Tell Josie, your server next time you’re in and we’ll get you one on the house!”
Or “We notice that you really love your pasta! Why not try out our new pasta recipe next time you’re in and we’ll give you 50% off your food bill – be sure to print the attached voucher off!”
This approach really starts to create that personal touch with your customers – they’re getting amazing service during their meal, but they can now start to see that you’re always thinking about them, looking at their habits and starting to offer them different options based on their previous. A loyalty scheme is a great way to achieve this and we’ll discuss this topic in week 5 – with some examples of places that have used loyalty schemes to huge positive effective.
Remember “Customer service isn’t a department – it’s a mindset”