Customer loyalty programs can be a great way to draw in new customers and keep them coming back. There are many ways to go about setting up a customer loyalty program that will entice consumers. Having one clearly planned customer loyalty program will provide customers with a clear way to get the benefits offered. Though many of the customer loyalty program ideas are great and effective, focusing on one single strategy is the best way to increase restaurant business through customer loyalty programs.
Setting Down the Rules
When drafting restaurant loyalty programs, one of the most important factors is to keep it simple. Complicated systems of how to earn more points and rewards will confuse restaurant staff and deter customers from joining the customer loyalty programs. Steps to consider in restaurant loyalty programs include initiation, a goal, and how to get to that goal.
Model Restaurant Loyalty Programs
Let’s take an example: JP Licks, an ice cream shop chain in the Boston area, offers customers an electronic card as part of their loyalty program. Upon registering the card, the card gets charged with a free sundae. After each purchase, customers receive a part of their money back on the card. Additionally, on their anniversary of registering the card and on their birthday, a customer’s card gets charged with a free sundae as well. Each month, the customer receives an e-mail with new flavors available and any other important new pertaining to the chain.
The first step in this example of customer loyalty programs is an “artificial advancement” initiation. Studies show that “artificial advancement” of a customer is a very effective way to initiate him/her into customer loyalty programs. By “rewarding” a new customer or a frequent buyer with advancement in the customer loyalty program, such as a free sundae after registration or after spending enough money, the customer will likely be more faithful to the program. After buying an ice cream, returning home, registering the card, and receiving a free sundae on the card, it is almost guaranteed that the customer will return for the freebie, and hopefully bring some friends, widening the circle of customers. At JP Licks, the more purchases a customer makes, the more money will be added to their card, until they are again able to get a free dessert. Other goals in other customer loyalty programs may include getting elevated status (which may come with discounts or a free item such as a topping), invitations to selective events and tastings, etc. At JP Licks, a customer gets to the goal by purchasing to get “money back” on their card, and being a steady customer over the years for a free sundae on their birthday and card registration anniversary. Many restaurant loyalty programs offer rewards for recommending friends as well. The last notable factor of the JP Licks customer loyalty program is the regular e-mails that customers receive, gently encouraging them to return to try to new monthly flavors. Having occasional, but not frequent, emails to members of the customer loyalty programs will be great advertisement for a business, but not overwhelming for the customer. By having a clear incentive to start, a plan to follow, and a goal to reach, customers will be persuaded to join and participate in restaurant loyalty programs.
Rewarding customers is a great way for businesses to show appreciation for and increase restaurant business by building customer loyalty. It is extremely important to inform restaurant staff about customer loyalty programs so they will be able to cater to the customers to the best of their abilities. Restaurant loyalty programs are useless without tasty foods and good customer service. If these things are dominant at a venue, then customer loyalty programs can successfully help increase restaurant business.