Taking Your Loyalty Program from Good to Great

By : Rohan Rodney

July 19, 2019 03:19 PM

An established loyalty program helps restaurant brands increase sales and foster long-term brand affinity – but beyond that, it is also a goldmine of rich data for an operator to dig into and identify their most important customers and optimize engagement with them.  As such, a top priority for any operator should be to find the set of customers who regularly spend more money with the business than anyone else.  Identifying this set of customers is critical to business sustainability since continuously satisfying this crowd is how restaurants keep income flow steady and create brand evangelists. 


Tips to Cultivate Loyalty Without Resorting to Bribery


· Consistency: Many of an operator’s best customers became regulars because of great, consistent service that they received over time.  It is essential to maintain these high standards and managers can keep a pulse of how they are doing by creating feedback loops with their customers for ways to maintain and improve service.  In this regard, your loyal members act as your advisory board – they are fans of your brand and support your success, but also provide honest input and constructive criticism. This gives you valuable insight on the voice of the market, and how to attract and retain other great customers.


· Exclusivity: Customers love being recognized and appreciated for their regular patronage, and not just through discounting or free products.  Deep emotional bonds can be cultivated with simple gestures such as exclusive event invitations, first access to menu items or exclusive deals only available to special customers.  In today’s crowded industry landscape, exclusivity is often seen as great currency in building clout for customers’ social media profiles.


· Appreciation: Notable, experiential rewards that make customers feel valued will build a deeper sense of loyalty than discount-based rewards.  People tend to share experiences on social media more often than price-cuts.  Aim to implement a sincere message of thanks to your best customers and over communicate how much you appreciate them and their business.


Loyal Customers Seek Exclusivity


Taking a customer from regular guest to raving fan goes beyond the creation of incentive-based programs to increase frequencies of visit.  Great customers often have emotional ties to their favorite establishments that have come from positive interactions with staff and management.  Loyal customers always like to feel like they are part of an exclusive crowd and be shown appreciation for their patronage.  In the end, it boils down to knowing who your best customers are and making them feel you are speaking to them 1:1.  To learn more about creating the optimal loyalty strategies for your operation, reach out to NCR’s Hospitality team, or read about our loyalty capabilities here

Rohan Rodney

Rohan Rodney is a Product Marketing Manager for NCR Hospitality. In this role, he communicates the vision and value of NCR's portfolio in meeting the market needs of the restaurant industry.