As inflation continues to weigh on the economy and consumers’ level of comfort in making discretionary purchases, there is that much more pressure on restaurant operators to make the experience of restaurant meals worth the expense. But doing so doesn’t have to be about expending significant additional effort. It can be about using your technology to drive an easier, more engaging, more personalized experience with your brand – one that will tip the scales in your favor when a guest is wavering about whether and where to order a meal. Your loyalty program is a key tool in this effort, but operators shouldn’t simply lean on a cookie-cutter program – particularly at a time when it’s increasingly common for tech stacks to integrate plug-and-play options to help operators gain a competitive advantage through building loyalty. Looking at the information you have collected about your customer base, what offers drive them to purchase repeatedly from you? As a recent report from Pymnts.com indicated, brands are currently looking to differentiate themselves with such features as in-app concerts, gamified rewards, and meal subscription services that allow users to earn back money with each purchase. Others are partnering with complementary brands to build engagement and ramp up the potential rewards on offer. To maximize your opportunities for continuously capturing the interest of loyal guests, ensure that at every step of a transaction, you’re weaving in your business brand language, making sure users’ experience is consistent regardless of how they are ordering from you, and that you’re collecting data that helps you monitor guest responses and making adjustments based on what you’re learning.
Restaurant digital orders skyrocketed 124 percent in March over the same period in 2020, according to NPD Group. That spike resulted in an influx of new restaurant loyalty programs in the market over the past year. Now a number of brands are revamping their existing programs in order to fine-tune their approach to their loyal guests – and enhance their actionable data as a result. As CNBC reports, some of those changes include improving the number or the quality of rewards for guests, expanding the number of payment options (including cash), and incorporating technology that recognizes a guest as soon as they enter the drive-thru or front door, enabling staff to greet the person by name and call up their preferences before they say a word. Others are providing loyalty program members with information on how many rewards they have earned in the past year. To be sure, as more of these programs enter the market, it will become harder for them to stand out – but it also means consumers will come to expect some rewards customized to their preferences in exchange for their regular business at restaurants.