Restaurant loyalty programs have exploded over the last decade, with over 125.6 million individual memberships available to participate in. However, loyalty programs are no longer just about points given to customers through a punch card incentive. Research suggests that both restaurant brands and guests aren’t quite seeing the ROI they were looking for from these programs.
Most off-the-shelf loyalty platforms are expensive, take too long to get to market, have trouble syncing with existing technologies and often don’t match up with a company’s business and/or financial needs. Additionally, these platforms oftentimes offer a limited means of communicating and/or engaging with guests once they’ve signed up, making for a poor experience for customers. Restaurant brands and guests want a better solution.
The Modern Approach
To realize the full business potential of customer allegiance, brands need to take a holistic view of loyalty. Up until now, restaurant groups have focused either on rewards or customer service, but not both together. It’s time to bridge that gap.
Brands today need to take a modern approach to loyalty. If loyal customers are what you want, then put their needs and expectations first. Consumers today expect brands to “know” them--who they are, what they like and how to communicate with them. They also want personalized offers as well as personalized customer service. For example, a customer who is vegetarian doesn’t want to get an offer for a meat lovers special from her favorite pizza restaurant. Just as someone without children doesn’t want to get an offer for a kid’s meal.
It’s important for brands to understand both the implicit and explicit motivations of their guests for joining and participating in a loyalty program. Are they truly a loyal customer who loves your brand and will come back no matter what? What is it about your brand that they love so much? Are they interested in wracking up as many points as possible? Are they only interested in the offers where they get something for free? Brands need to understand these implicit and explicit motivators for customers so that you can employ better tactics and strategies to earn and keep guest loyalty.
Investing in Technology
Many restaurant brands have been slower to adopt modern technologies, mostly because of the large upfront costs, but also for the resources needed in order to implement and execute across all locations. However, with declining sales across the United States, most restaurant brands can no longer afford to avoid investing in the technologies needed to meet customer expectations in today’s digital age.
In order to achieve guest allegiance, it’s no longer enough to produce a good meal--there’s a pervasive need to create meaningful relationships with customers that go beyond the transaction. However, in order to understand what these are, brands need to collect data on their customers, and in order to do this, brands need to have a customer data management, customer relationship management and analytics platform in place.
To make it even more complicated, the quality of the platform and the industry expertise of the provider can greatly affect the success of your loyalty program. It's important that the provider you select can become a trusted partner that can grow and scale with your business and support different types of programs as guest expectations evolve over time.
Turn Guests Into Customers for Life
All these challenges are leading to confusion for restaurants and an underwhelming experience for customers. So what should you do? To create a modern loyalty program, restaurant brands must understand modern thinking, modern architecture and modern execution. But don’t worry, we break this all down for you in our latest whitepaper, Turn Guests into Customers for Life With a Modern Loyalty Program.
Grab a free copy of this whitepaper and get your loyalty program launched in time for 2019!