Customer retention plays a crucial role in the success of a restaurant. Loyal customers tend to order and spend more and are good for the business. It has been seen that a mere 5% increase in repeat customers increases profits exponentially. This article uncovers some stellar ways to increase the customer retention rate in your restaurant in the UAE.
How to Increase the Customer Retention Rate in Your Restaurant in the UAE
While attracting new customers is vital for a restaurant business, it should never be done at the cost of old ones. Therefore, we have compiled a list of useful tips that can work as basic rules for retaining customers in the UAE restaurant space.
1. Outstanding Customer Service
It’s not rocket science- an exceptional service is going to keep your customers coming back for more. Great food at a reasonable price, with a good ambiance and hospitality, completes an excellent dining experience. Customers’ expectations may vary from person to person, but for retaining them, you must ensure that the service provided is remarkable and to the best of your efforts.
- Not just the quality of the food, but the quantity served and the price charged for it is also a part of excellent service. You must balance the portion size and the price charged for the item to keep your food costs in check, and also keep your customers happy.
- Next, no matter how delicious the food is, if your customers have to wait an hour just to be served an entree, they are bound to get annoyed. Make sure you don’t make your customers wait too long to be seated, or served.
- Ideal waiter to table ratio is also an essential factor to consider. In casual dining restaurants where the service expectation is low and the volume of customers high, the ideal Table-to-Waiter ratio is high- 6 to 8 tables (seating an average of 4 people) per waiter. On the other hand, fine dining restaurants often have several courses and need constant supervision. In this case, the expectation of service is exceptionally high as the customers are paying significantly more, and any lack of service is frowned upon.
2. Creating A Personal Touch
Customers are bound to return to a restaurant where they are treated well. Train your staff to be hospitable and welcoming in little ways like greeting the guests when they walk in and seating them. Familiar waiting staff results in higher customer retention and engagement. It has been seen that turnover in the waiting staff results in an overall decrease in profits.
Engaging in some polite small talk goes a long way in increasing customer delight, but one must always be careful not to appear too imposing. Gauging the mood and behavior of the customer is also important, and must be done tactfully. Interacting with guests is an integral part of etiquette training, and you must make sure that your waiting staff is fully trained before they begin waiting tables.
3. Constructive Use of CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software acquires precious data about your customers; such as their contact details, birthdays and anniversaries, etc. You can use this database to engage with your customers such as sending them birthdays and anniversary greetings.
POS integrated CRM also tells you about your customers’ preferences and their revenue potential, which you can use to run marketing campaigns. It helps you make informed decisions while planning your menu, or while implementing a new strategy.
4. Gathering Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is essential for any business, as it is the most honest source of feedback that helps identify your flaws and gives you an opportunity to correct the mistakes and grow. Asking for your customers’ feedback makes them feel valued. In case a guest is unhappy, you must make sure that the grievance is resolved immediately. Acting promptly upon the complaint shows that you value your customers’ feedback.
Customers are now using social media and restaurant review sites to leave their feedback and reviews about their dining experiences. Guests often look up the reviews before visiting a restaurant for the first time.
Therefore, monitoring customer reviews is crucial to the reputation of a restaurant. Thank the user who has nice things to say about you, and invite them again to dine at your restaurant. In the case of criticism, even if you don’t agree with it, never lose your calm and politely address the issue.
5. Using Loyalty Programs and Offers
Loyalty programs have long been used to get customers hooked and to keep them coming back for more. However, most loyalty programs fail due to their abstract nature and hence do not resonate with the customers.
Your CRM database can play a vital role while creating loyalty programs. CRM integrated with POS can generate detailed reports about the preferences of customers. You can come up with relevant loyalty programs specially customized according to your customer base.
You can also use the database to come up with personalized deals and offers for your customers. Based on their ordering habits, you can send them an email or an SMS informing them that their favorite dessert is available at a discount during a particularly slow day of the week, or send them a personalized offer or deal on a birthday, anniversary, or any other special occasion.
6. Effective Online Marketing
You can use online marketing tools to update your customers about your restaurant’s events. Email campaigns are an effective tool to update them about your restaurant. If a customer hasn’t dined at your restaurant lately, you can send them an email or an SMS saying that you miss them.
Give the email a personal touch by offering customers a discount on their favorite item, or make it complimentary on a minimum bill, thus compelling them to visit. You can also send customized push notifications to customers on their mobile phones, and keep them regularly updated. However, you must also remember not to spam.
Social media campaigns are also an excellent way of marketing your restaurant. Facebook, and Instagram, Twitter, are some of the best platforms to run a contest. ‘Check-in’, ‘tweet to us’, and ‘upload a picture’ are some of the popular and successful campaigns of social media. Engaging with customers on social media in the form of tweets and comment replies are also important to create brand loyalty and increase customer retention in the UAE restaurant space.
With extreme competition in the UAE restaurant industry, it doesn’t take much for customers to switch to your competitor. Employ these tips and increase the customer retention rate in your restaurant in the UAE.