Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold: How Tech Can Help Boost Customer Loyalty This Holiday Season

As colder temperatures creep in and consumer disposable income dips, demand for on-premises dining could start to wane. Restaurant operators are now looking for solutions to retain customers as colder weather and economic conditions threaten their bottom line. 

Today’s restaurant guests are more selective about their dining experiences, and boosting customer loyalty is crucial as restaurants shift into this next phase of service and look toward the holidays. Customers now expect more than a simple rewards program or general mailing list. By leveraging advanced tech solutions that enhance guest experiences and deepen customer relationships, operators can increase guest loyalty to lock in key customers as spending habits change and the holiday season ramps up.

Enhancing the In-Person Experience

Tech solutions can help create a more memorable on-premises experience, which is arguably the biggest factor for unlocking loyalty for guests that dine on-site. To maximize return on the data collected through in-person interactions, restaurants can use automated guest and preference tags to segment guests seamlessly. These tags enable staff and operators to surface detailed guest information, including itemized POS data, visit length and frequency, spend history, and even wine preferences.  

With this insight into customer behavior, operators can tailor the in-person experience to each guest’s needs. They can invite guests who always order a drink to a holiday cocktail making class with the executive chef, recommend a seasonal dessert based on a guest’s tastes, or build a deeper rapport by acknowledging a couple who always visits around a special holiday. Auto-tags free up staff to create more meaningful moments, offer recommendations through targeted marketing, and make a lasting impression on guests when they dine on-site.

Connecting On- and Off-Premises Data

Off-premises dining is here to stay, so there is increasing value in not only understanding how and what customers are ordering for takeout and delivery, but also who those customers are. That’s why creating a seamless link between ordering platforms and customer relationship management (CRM) software will be key to capturing the loyalty of all customers, especially those that rarely set foot in the restaurant. 

With an unfettered flow of customer data from online ordering platforms, operators can get a 360-degree view of all customers from within their CRM, and leverage this to create personalized experiences and promotions to wow guests. These can include targeting big takeout spenders with an upgraded delivery holiday tasting menu experience, notifying a customer if their usual ordering day will fall on a holiday and incentivizing them to try a different day, or even encouraging serial delivery regulars to take a trip to the restaurant to try a twist on classic holiday dishes. With this data connection made, personalized experiences are no longer exclusively for on-site guests. 

A seamless flow of off-premises data into a CRM can also be leveraged to send out guest satisfaction surveys after patrons dine, to help operators gain deeper insight into their takeout and delivery experiences. 

Finally, this connection of on- and off-premises data can be used to recover customers. With this information, operators can identify dine-in customers who slid to takeout or delivery only and then stopped ordering altogether and extend a special offer to rekindle the relationship. With more customers choosing to order in rather than venture out to restaurants as the year ends, using on-premises data to boost takeout and delivery revenue and deepen relationships with this customer group will be crucial to maintaining momentum. 

Extending Guest Relationships Beyond the Meal

Leveraging guest data from both on- and off-premises, operators can also use personalized marketing automation to boost guest loyalty. With a deeper look into a guests’ interactions with a brand, restaurants can tailor marketing emails not only based on important occasions in a diners’ life such as their birthday, but also their food preferences, allergies, or order history. For example, have a guest that always orders dessert when they dine in? Use marketing automation tools to send an email letting them know about an upcoming holiday dessert tasting menu event.

Operators can also use marketing automation for re-engagement, automatically emailing guests who haven’t visited or ordered in a set period, or even no-show guests, to bring them back. This feature could be crucial in bringing back corporate groups that cancelled their 2020 holiday parties and are looking to celebrate again this year. 

Sustaining Customer Loyalty

Loyalty is all about making customers feel welcome and special, no matter in-person or off-premises. Tech tools that. leverage guest data across all dining scenarios can help operators enhance the guest experience and deepen customer relationships — whether they’re in the restaurant or ordering from home. As the portable heaters come out and holiday decorations are hung once again, restaurants armed with the right tech tools will keep their customers coming back — even from the comfort of their own homes.