Top 8 Tips and Tricks to Increase Your Restaurant Customer Engagement in the New Era

December 1, 2022
One2 Guide

According to a Salesforce report, almost 80% of customers say that they are more likely to forgive a company for its mistake after getting excellent customer service. This means loyal customers will still stick to your business even if you mess up. And to earn this unwavering loyalty, you need customer engagement.

Now, restaurants are facing supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and rising inflation – which all force costs to go up and affect profits. These macro trends aside, businesses in the industry must accommodate new customer expectations, including digital food ordering. So, how can you boost consumer engagement in this new era? Let’s find out! 

What is restaurant customer engagement?

1. Definition of restaurant customer engagement

Customer engagement means the customer relationships with your business in the give-and-take form. It involves how you keep your diners happy across stages or over every interaction with your restaurant. This means from when they hear of your establishment, to their experience as your website visitors, to their dine-in experience, or when they order through your online ordering system.

2. Definition of the customer engagement cycle

The customer engagement cycle means a cyclical process of business-customer relationship building; this begins from being 100% unknown to growing into a customer base that supports, buys, and promotes lots of things about your restaurant. 

3. Customer engagement vs Customer experience

Customer engagement refers to what you do to create and maintain a strong relationship with your customers. In comparison, customer experience is what the guests experience in their journey with your brand.

4. Customer engagement vs Customer satisfaction

Customer engagement often comes about in the early stages of the customer lifecycle. Meanwhile, customer satisfaction usually results from customer engagement.

Significant changes in the restaurant customer behavior post-Covid-19

Here are some statistics revealed in Simon Kucher’s “The New Normal for Restaurants” report:

Diners want to order over 24% of their meals online using apps and whatnot, which was 21% before Covid-19.

Most people who eat out like higher-quality and healthier food businesses better.

It is safe to say that one of the new, post-pandemic normals is remote work. This trend has impacted breakfast and lunch restaurants that people liked visiting for takeaways while commuting to work before the pandemic. It highlights the need for these businesses to make major adjustments (say adopting an online delivery approach) for survival in this post-Covid-19 era.

Further, restaurants these days have introduced new features like:

Less sizable dining rooms;

Parking spaces for 3rd-party delivery;

Multiple drive-through lanes.

Why is customer engagement important?

Because it helps:

Improve customer loyalty.

Increase football for more sales.

Gather customer feedback and enhance operations.

How to increase customer engagement: 8 creative customer engagement strategies

These ideas can bring the business outcomes you want:

1. Take a multi-channel content approach to engage customers effectively

Digital marketing has been at the forefront of restaurant operators, particularly with Covid-19 in hindsight. Practically any business in the sector, from full-service restaurants to fast food stalls, is selling online. 

But on the other hand, some fail to take full advantage of this approach when paying 100% attention to building the marketing strategy on a single channel. While every eatery has the platform that fits them the best, negating the effectiveness of other channels is not recommended. Just develop a solid customer engagement strategy across various platforms - and here are some tips:

Using One2 is a proven way to improve your website traffic.

Increase the traffic to your website.

Simplify the order process across various channels like food ordering platforms, mobile apps, and your website.

Avoid going overboard with channels; 2 or 3 are ideal.

Develop a social media marketing strategy. Forbes reveals that more than 60% of millennials can become loyal customers if a brand has customer engagement marketing strategies on social media networks.

Let SMS marketing have a part to play in your marketing strategy - for instance, a promotional message for your food of the day.

Add email to your customer engagement marketing strategy. You can use email to deliver important operational updates and engage customers on a more personal level (e.g., wishing them a happy birthday with the dessert on the house). The one-stop online ordering, delivery & loyalty platform from One2 helps you build and manage email lists to easily connect with customers that way.

2. Capitalize on digital technology to keep customers engaged

To create a customer engagement plan that works, you should align your business with the latest trends and incorporate the appropriate technology into it. If you decide delivery is right for your restaurant and guests, consider using One2 which integrates online ordering, delivery, and loyalty programs in one platform. This simple and modern technological approach to food delivery should set you apart, attract more new and existing customers, deliver a more seamless customer journey, and increase sales.

Besides, like Chipotle, you may use social media such as the video conferencing solution Zoom to allow many consumers to hang out with famous personalities. This helps improve customer interactions.

3. Boost dine-in customer experience

Ensuring a smooth in-restaurant customer journey can be harder post-pandemic, considering multiple factors like safety and quality. Some favorable ways to better the service experience include:

One2’s Instant Contactless QR Code

Implementing touchless technologies. For example, One2’s Instant Contactless QR Code menus are proven an effective way of engaging customers. Diners can scan this menu from their smartphone and access your eatery’s menu in real-time – no PDF or physical menu involved

Revamping your restaurant space to better the ambiance.

Training your staff to treat guests well - resulting in a happy customer base.

Using the customer data collected to know your patrons and their preferences. Then, surprise customers with specials, calorie-friendly meal options, and whatnot. You can do all these and increase customer loyalty using the One2 system

Streamline the checkout process with One2. The platform removes any unnecessary steps for your staff and diners. 

4. Use post-purchase customer engagement strategies to turn existing customers into loyal customers

There are over 660k restaurants in the U.S. as of 2021. Guests have so many options to pick from.

So, to enhance customer relationships and earn brand loyalty, you are recommended to create post-dining customer engagement activities, including:

Collecting customer feedback - this is one of the best post-purchase engagement strategies for restaurants.

Keep your diners updated about new menu items and discounts using One2’s prices and specials update functionality. 

Connect with them on social media and cause hunger and cravings in them by sharing photos of the delicious dishes on your menu.

5. Enable loyalty programs to retain customers

With the customer loyalty program, you can reward loyal customers, which is directly tied to repeat visits and increased sales. Indeed, food businesses that implement a loyalty program observe an over 38% spike in continued patronage.

Besides, this plays a part in streamlining communication. Guests need to enter their email addresses when joining a loyalty program. So, you can maintain smooth communication with them, which is the lever to improve customer engagement.

It is also worth mentioning that VIP diners can drive a considerable portion of your restaurant revenue. And offering a personalized service like special rewards can help increase customer spending by an extra 17%. 

But on the other hand, please remember that you need the right customer loyalty programs that allow the ability to customize them following your business and customer base. One2 has that type of custom customer retention program for a successful customer engagement model.

6. Build a strong customer engagement strategy by partnering with other brands

In challenging times, businesses can come together to open the way for success. To give an example, Kroger locations in Ohio and Donatos take a unique opportunity to form a partnership that created social media buzz. Since Kroger intended to throw a pizza party to celebrate their staff (12,000), they placed an order of 4,000 pizzas from Donatos. This became the largest single order in the company’s history. Both brands shared the outcome on social media where they got engaged customers. 

Not every eatery can process a large order like that, yet they have opportunities to partner with other businesses to generate a special customer experience. It is safe to state that as food businesses and partners share those experiences on social media, with the press, etc., they are delivering a message of positivity to engage customers.

7. Give back to communities

Restaurants are an essential part of the communities they cater to. When showing the way in giving back to others, these companies stand out as community members and brands consumers desire to engage with. 

One of the best customer engagement examples in this light is the Hero Pies initiative of &pizza (based on the East Coast). It helped reduce the burden of planning meals for healthcare personnel during the pandemic. Using SMS and the brand’s native app, the campaign provided hospital staff with donated pizzas.

8. Collect feedback to improve user engagement

Did you know that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers brings up complaints? In other words, guests would highly likely stop purchasing from you without a word. A lesson here is that restaurant owners should collect customer feedback and measure customer sentiment.

More specifically, you are recommended to circulate the positive feedback from diners to your workers. This helps improve their morale.

Speaking of negatives, respond to them. Over 44.5% of customers are more likely to visit a business that gets back to negative online reviews. Also, importantly, with the feedback in mind, you define your service issues and resolve them quickly. This enables you to remove service-related hassles and enhance customer engagement, customer experience, and customer satisfaction.

Related questions

1. Key customer engagement metrics to measure?

Some metrics that measure customer engagement include:

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)

Net promoter score (NPS)

Customer effort score (CES)

First-week engagement

“Stickiness” user engagement metrics

Churn rate

User activity

Social media engagement

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Visit frequency

Session time for measuring customer engagement

Feature usage

Bounce rate

Core user actions


2. How can I establish an online brand for my ghost kitchen?

Optimize your website for more website visitors. Interact with your customer's web browser in real time.

Tie up with One2’s first-party ordering platform.

Harness the power of social media.

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