Many companies operate loyalty schemes in order to woo customers back to their venues but these should be digitally savvy for the best results, Eloise Sheppard, managing director the technology firm advised.
Make it worthwhile
A simple way to prevent profits being compromised by a loyalty scheme is to steer clear of percentage discounts that give customers money off every time they visit. Instead, focus on giving customers an incentive to return to the pub.
“The reward needs to be more substantial than earning a free drink or collecting points that don’t ever seem to amount to much,” Sheppard said.
Ditch physical cards
For example, offering one free product for every five purchased will ensure customers make repeat visits and they make additional orders too.
Paperless systems are the way forward and will often encourage more participation from your customers. “Many people don’t want a wallet full of plastic,” Sheppard said.
She added: “I would advise investing in an online system for customers who want to participate but don’t want the clutter. John Smith's Great British Pub Awards finalist in two categories – the Mayfield Seamer in Scarborough, North Yorkshire – has been digitally innovative in this way by launching an app for customers to stay in touch and earn special offers.
Shout on social media
It can be easy to get lost on web searches and social media, but establishing a strong presence is key to building loyalty.
In Newton Abbot, Devon, the Three Crowns pub built its repertoire by participating in local Facebook groups, an example of a “little digital reminder” that will make independent operations stick in customer’s minds, according to Sheppard.
For larger businesses, she recommended the creation of “regional microsites that are managed on the ground at each location to notify nearby customers about what matters to them”.
Be pen pals
Customers may consent to give you details like birthdays, drinking and dining preferences, email addresses and phone numbers for marketing purposes. With this data, your business should offer discounts around birthdays and anniversaries, or send personalised emails featuring new dishes and drinks.
“Marketing components of CRM systems are designed to automate this process and make it easier to connect with the customer and encourage repeat visits,” Sheppard added.
Quality of service is the be all and end all. It should go without saying, but factors like lapses in hygiene or rude staff can be the deciding factor for customers deciding to return or not.
Sheppard explained: “It’s important to ensure the customer’s experience is the number one priority because it doesn’t matter how good the food is, if consumers aren’t happy with the service, they’ll vote with their feet.” Upset customers are not afraid to tell their friends or the internet, meaning simple mistakes can cause a nightmare for your site's reputation.