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A successful restaurant is more than just delicious food and tantalizing aromas. It’s also about experiences that can create lasting memories for your guests. The customer’s experience with your restaurant is directly connected to your business’s reputation, loyalty, and ultimately revenue.
The art of crafting a remarkable restaurant experience involves establishing memorable touch points that will turn your customers into loyal and devoted regulars. To improve your restaurant’s reputation, revenue, and customer loyalty, let’s discuss how to improve customer experience in a restaurant across five different, but crucial touch points.
What is the restaurant customer experience and why is it important?
The restaurant customer experience encompasses every interaction a patron has with your business, from the moment they discover your restaurant and make their reservation to the moment they leave feedback from their experience and interact with your marketing and social media. If done correctly, a great restaurant experience encourages repeat customers, brings back old customers, and spreads strong word of mouth, all of which ultimately increase profits. In fact, data consistently suggests that customers care about a positive restaurant experience. For example, one study found that three in four customers will spend more with businesses that provide a good customer experience.
How to improve customer experience in a restaurant
Let’s dive into actionable steps to take to enhance the restaurant experience for your patrons.
1. Invest in your team.
An exceptional restaurant experience begins with your staff. To provide great customer experiences, your staff needs to be committed and motivated to succeed as well.
It’s essential to show your team that you’re committed to them. This can come in the form of training them properly to cultivate the best hard and soft skills for their role. Equip your team with skills in customer service, initiative, and conflict resolution. Train them to anticipate diners’ requests, keeping their experience seamless and easygoing.
A motivated, dedicated, and appreciated workforce leads to less turnover, which, in turn, fosters a culture that will be more invested in your restaurant’s success. And your customers will see it. The positive energy shining through your staff will extend to their customer interactions, which can leave a lasting impression on your guests.
2. Make ordering easy.
Embracing digital solutions for your restaurant can create a more user-friendly and seamless experience for your customers, whether they are dining in or picking up. Integrations with platforms such as OpenTable allow you to accept digital reservations that show up directly on your point-of-sale system. Alternatively, if your customer is looking to take their meal to go, offering online ordering provides an added convenience and takes the hassle out of phone orders. This can help free up your employees’ time and allow customers to preview your menu from the comfort of their own homes.
With Square contactless payment options, including Google Pay, Apple Pay, and CashApp, the checkout process is even easier for your dine-in and pickup customers. As we find ourselves even busier, these small efficiencies throughout the restaurant experience can make a big difference. Nearly half (46%) of customers simply prefer the ease and speed of contactless payment.
3. Promote discovery through reviews.
Today, customer reviews can significantly influence consumer decisions. In fact, 98% of consumers see reviews as an essential resource when making a purchasing decision. And people are more likely to read reviews for restaurants than for any other type of business.
So when you know customers had a great experience with your restaurant, why not give them an opportunity share their experience with others? Leverage platforms like Square Marketing to drive customer reviews, especially on Google and Facebook, where they are particularly impactful.
Implementing a customer loyalty program is another effective way to turn happy customers into loyal devotees. By offering incentives and rewards through the use of Square Loyalty, you can encourage repeat visits and solidify your place in customers’ hearts.
4. Personalize the dining experience.
Once your customers have dined with you, collecting customer feedback with Square Feedback can offer invaluable insights into what your customers loved or didn’t love. Collect customer feedback with digital receipts to learn more about their experience. With Square, you can have direct communication with your customers to resolve any issues privately, right through your receipt.
Tailor your customers’ restaurant experience using Square Customer Directory to home in on their personal preferences. You can note your customers’ favorite items, average total spent, number of times they’ve dined with you, feedback notes, and their loyalty status. Use this information to further understand your customers and keep your menu fresh based on the point-of-sale data showing popular food and drink items.
5. Connect with guests in new ways.
Harness the power of social media to connect with your customers on a deeper level. Build a social media presence by sharing new dishes, introducing your staff, or posting cooking videos. Integrate your Square account with Facebook and Instagram to create an even more interactive experience on social that allows your customers to communicate with you directly within those platforms.
As we see an increase of this engagement on social, conversations are shifting from email inboxes to social platforms. While most consumers (60%) still want to hear from businesses via email, 46% want to hear from them through a social media profile or in their direct messages.
We’re also seeing the line between retail and restaurant blur, with nearly two in three restaurateurs viewing non-core offerings, like merch, as necessary to diversify their revenue and grow their brand. Think about offering experiences such as cooking classes and catering services in addition to merchandise. These non-core offerings are proven to add value, with 57% of consumers purchasing retail items at a local restaurant in the past year and 41% purchasing non-core items, like premade frozen meals, meal or cocktail kits, or online cooking classes.
Elevating the customer’s restaurant experience is an investment that pays dividends in the form of increased revenue, loyal patrons, and positive word of mouth. By focusing on how to improve customer experience in a restaurant through these touch points, you can create memories that can outlast your competitors. Implement these strategies with Square for Restaurants to elevate your customers’ restaurant experience and watch your business thrive.