How restaurants can use innovation to engage with customers in contactless ways

Published February 17, 2021

As restaurants are adopting contactless services more and more—from curbside service to touchless payments—some operators may be wondering how they can foster, and even increase, customer loyalty when they have less face-to-face interactions with customers. While contactless service does present a challenge, restaurant owners and operators still have to provide excellent customer experiences, and there are innovative ways they can do it.

With some strategizing and technology, you can own the customer experience. Here are some ways you can continue connecting and engaging with customers, even during this contactless time.

Powerful customer data, used the right way


The emphasis used to be on leveraging data to let operators know when diners came in, what they ordered, how long they stayed and more. But now, with such a large increase in off-premise services, restaurant operators are reconsidering how to use their customer data—and what information they’re collecting.

So, during this time, knowing what your customers typically order on Friday nights or for weekday lunches gives you the opportunity to tailor menus and offers that are specific to each customer. Rather than promoting, for instance, a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. on weeknights, you can send offers to boost more weekly dinner orders.

For example, sending a coupon mid-day on Friday for a free dessert with a family meal bundle or a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees, can be a great way to build customer loyalty. When you demonstrate that you know and want to cater to individual consumers’ needs, you can create a personal experience that enhances a customer’s perception of your brand.

Meet and reward their mobile demands


Your customers, particularly those using their mobile devices, are online quite often—and many use apps to connect with restaurants rather than using individual websites or third-party providers. So when you launch an app for your restaurant you can harness customer engagement with ease and encourage additional purchases with push notifications.

Also, you can give them loyalty rewards via the app rather than through punch cards (which are quickly becoming outdated) or direct-mail coupons, so consumers get instant gratification rather than having to wait for their earned rewards.

Resolve problems quickly and with care


Of course, you want all of your customers to be satisfied 100% of the time, but any restaurant operator knows that’s not realistic. So when a customer has a problem, operators should have programs in place to resolve issues quickly. With the right plan in place to efficiently address customer complaints, you can take care of order issues, or any other problems, before they get frustrated—which could lead customers to post negative reviews online. When restaurants show their customers that they care, operators can generate trust in their brand and that can encourage future purchases.

Seamless curbside and delivery services


Off-premise orders are expected to increase even when contactless service isn’t so strictly enforced—38% of consumers said they will be ordering more carryout even after dining rooms are reopened, while 28% said the same for delivery orders, according to Technomic’s 2020 Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report.

So, it’s important to continue offering contactless, curbside and drive-thru pickup and any other off-premise service. By continuing to provide your customers with ways to enjoy your restaurant safely during the pandemic, you can reinforce that you care about your customers—and they can continue feeling safe patronizing your restaurant.

See how NCR can help.

This post was originally published on Restaurant Business Online. Find it here.

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