Tuesday, 6th February, 2018

Loyalty schemes

Rewarding your customers for simply enjoying your offerings is the simplest way to encourage repeat custom and to cultivate brand loyalty.

Research suggests that it can be 5-10 times more expensive to acquire customers than it is to retain them, therefore the need for an efficient loyalty scheme, tailor made to suit the needs of your business, should be a high priority. And with loyal customers spending up to 67% more than new customers, food and beverage businesses who engage with their customers via loyalty schemes can profit.

It’s all a question of having an infinity with a brand, with a sense of belonging and feeling valued.  In hospitality it boils down to the E-word: experience.  This is supported by Zonal’s GO Technology report, in conjunction with CGA, whereby 5,000 consumers, when surveyed, placed personalisation as the fourth most important factor in choosing an independent restaurant; location, quality and style were first to third respectively. That preference was across all groups from early adopters to mainstream customers, all of whom rated it as more important than value for money, authenticity or the availability of healthy options.

So, it’s not simply a question of casting blanket offers; today’s consumers are savvier and they want that personal touch, even an element of surprise that delights and makes them feel special. 

Loyal to one brand

GO Technology research also shows that only 64% of consumers consider themselves to be loyal to at least one brand; if your customers feel valued then they are three times more likely to return time and again, which is better for the bottom line.

Whether you are a multiple operator or single site operator, through integrated technology you can learn more about your customers, their behaviour and purchasing preferences than ever before. This knowledge, used correctly, should empower you to dish up personalised treats and offers that inspire your customers to become your most powerful brand ambassadors.

What makes a good loyalty scheme?

Relevancy and customisation. The point is to fill empty tables and incremental revenue, not canibalise existing bookings and revenue from the full ones.  Consumers don’t generally see dining as mere fuel; it’s about the overall experience from checking out an app or website to leaving with a smile on their face. And the more personal you can make that experience, the better.

There is still a place for instant offers when signing up new loyalty club members, with 79% of those surveyed for GO Technology favouring this approach.  But, thereafter, you need to court loyalty and build a genuine relationship through personalised campaigns, with 40% of consumers citing this as key to driving loyalty.

The trick is to come up with rewards that get the customers to take action!  One of the simplest ways to personalise the customer experience is to send tailored recommendations or deals, such as promotions for their favourite items or a fantastic deal on something they’ll appreciate during a quiet period, or if you’ve noticed they’ve not been in for a while.  However, it’s also important to monitor the effectiveness of such offers to ensure you’re getting the return on investment you’re hoping to achieve.

Personalise your scheme

When it comes to personalised loyalty schemes, it’s about knowing when and how often a customer visits and how much they spend, so you, the operator, can target your communications more precisely, looking at bigger spenders, or lapsed customers for example.  To achieve an accurate view of your customer means bringing together all the data that you have about them, such as demographics, booking history, basket data and purchasing preferences into one single record.  This rich data enables you to target your customers more effectively with timely, relevant messages that add value. 

Whether you are a multiple or single site operator, through integrated technology you can learn more about your customers, their behaviour and purchasing preferences than ever before. This knowledge, used correctly, should empower you to dish up personalised treats and offers that inspire your customers to become your most powerful brand ambassadors.

Mainstream appeal

The rise in the popularity of app technology is set to continue as mobile ordering and payment have quickly become mainstream and will enjoy further growth.  This trend has been recognised by hospitality brands who appreciate the potential of developing their own apps.  This is also supported by the latest GO Technology report that indicates 82% of the 5,000 GB adults surveyed are more likely to use a venue’s own app as opposed to a third-party provider. 

This is largely down to trust, which is a big consideration for consumers who are increasingly shrewd when it comes to sharing their data.  Almost a quarter of 18 to 34 year olds cite lack of trust as their biggest barrier to engaging with a brand.  But where trust is gained, 72% are ready to engage with and share their data in return for instant offers. 

It’s no coincidence, therefore, that operators want a slice of the action and are looking for smartly branded apps that deliver tangible benefits for their customers, from making a reservation to ordering and paying for food and drink ‘virtually’, to personalised offers and rewards, that in turn drive revenue in a more convenient, fun and appealing way.

For example, if your app offers ordering, payment or both, that’s an excellent opportunity to bring in your loyalty scheme. By placing tailored recommendations right there in the app at the point of ordering, or the moment when diners ask one another: “Have we finished, or should we look at the dessert menu?” and see a tempting discount, you can easily increase the initial order.

Mobile Generation

We are the mobile generation and people are glued to their devices, so loyalty needs to be part of this experience.  Gamification through app technology will play a part in the future of loyalty.  Creating Gamification is about rewarding customer behaviour in the same way a video game might do. If you’ve ever tried to tear a child away from games on an iPhone or iPad, you’ll know how addictive such games can be.

By making a loyalty scheme interactive and fun, you can reap big rewards: for example, if you offer rewards for a mix of behaviors’ including consuming content, shopping, posting to social media and creating content you can keep your customers involved, and in the case of social media, even get them to help market your business.

Biffa