How to Improve Restaurant Customer Experience for Repeat Business

Creating amazing customer experiences that keep diners coming back for more is part art, part science. This guide helps you figure out the right balance to grow your restaurant business.

Build Customer Loyalty to Grow Your Restaurant Business

Loyal customers are the bread and butter of the hospitality industry. 

The numbers definitely support this. A study by Thanx indicates that in retail and restaurant businesses, the top 25% of loyal customers contribute as much as 64% of revenue. Hubspot found that repeat customers spend 31% more than new customers, while it costs 80% less to retain existing customers than it does to acquire new diners. 

And of course, the now-famous study by Bain & Company and Harvard Business Review shows that increasing your customer retention rates by even as little as 5% can increase your profits by anywhere between 25-95%.

It’s clear that securing repeat business is a necessity for any restaurant to succeed! It’s definitely one of the best ways to boost your restaurant’s revenue.

With that said, creating a loyal customer is very different from attracting a new customer. You’ll need to level up your customer experience at every stage, from the way diners are greeted to the kind of perks they get for returning. 

In this article, we explore a variety of unique ways to improve your customer experience and get those returning customers flocking to your restaurant.


1. Offer a loyalty program

Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to encourage repeat business. After all, they explicitly reward customers who come back!

A loyalty program can be as simple as a stamped card that entitles users to a free item after a certain number of visits or orders. It can also be more complex, like a card- or app-driven loyalty system with tracked points and partnerships with other brands.

Whatever the case, a good loyalty and rewards program will motivate customers to keep coming back for more. And the results of having one are clear: 78% of customers will continue spending money on your business if you have a loyalty program!

For real-world figures, look no further than the success of the famous Starbucks Reward Loyalty Program, one of the best-known loyalty programs in the business. In October 2020, the Loyalty Program had as many as 19.3 million active members, and Starbucks credits as much as 50% of its total sales to this program.

You can learn a lot about making an effective loyalty program from the example of the Starbucks program:

  • For one, it’s incredibly simple—every order you make with your Starbucks card earns you a certain number of stars per dollar. These stars can be used to purchase rewards.
  • Another is that it’s highly personalized. The Starbucks program also gives you special treats on your birthday, and even recommends specific offers depending on your rewards and order history and preferences.
  • Finally, it’s also very engaging. The Starbucks Rewards program includes games that you can play to win prizes, Double Star Days that encourage you to purchase from Starbucks to earn double the rewards points, and challenges that are tailored to your profile.

By creating a simple, personalized, and engaging loyalty program, you’re sure to delight your customers with a host of rewards that’ll keep them coming back for more.


2. Use their names

Personalization isn’t just for your loyalty program. It’s important to make every customer feel special and important whenever they’re dining in with you. 

And that begins with their name. 

Instructing your servers and hosts to use a customer’s name throughout their stay can instantly improve their dining experience. This makes for a more humanized, personalized relationship between diner and restaurant, and it’s sure to make their dining experience more memorable. 

Science agrees with this method—research has shown that hearing your name lights up your brain in very unique ways, which actually helps imprint the experience in your memory.


3. Deliver excellent customer service

“Excellent customer service” seems like such an abstract goal that every restaurant should strive towards.

But there are very real steps you can take to elevate your customer service to new heights.

For one, you want to train your servers to keep their full attention on guests from the moment they arrive to the minute they leave. If your diners ever feel like they’re interrupting a conversation between servers, or a task that a bartender is working on, they’ll feel reluctant to ask for anything.

Another is that you need to reduce the amount of waiting time that every customer experiences. As soon as they arrive, they should be seated at the best available seat, and attended to immediately by a server or the host who brought them in. Set time limits for staff to meet, like 1 minute for greeting a customer when they arrive and 2 minutes for the first table touch once they’re seated.

Customers should also have constant access to waitstaff. Smaller restaurants might get away with just having diners raise their hands, but larger restaurants should have call buttons table side to ensure that diners’ orders and requests are always heard. 

Alternatively, you can also offer tableside ordering using a restaurant management and POS system. Systems like Mosaic Solutions seamlessly integrate your front-of-house and back-of-house operations to get orders out of the kitchen and onto diners’ tables as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Finally, it’s important to ensure that problems are always quickly resolved. When faced with an irate customer, servers and managers need to be able to de-escalate their frustrations, acknowledge the issues, rapidly negotiate a solution that satisfies everyone, and apologize well. A customer might only remember a positive customer experience in passing, but even a single negative one will stay with them for a long time, and they might even post about it on social media or share negative feedback with others.


Getting to know your customers through data

At its core, a good customer experience is all about knowing your customers and giving them what they want. 

That kind of information used to be gathered from customer feedback surveys and the human experience of your front-of-house staff. But now, with integrated restaurant management solutions like Mosaic, you get access to a wealth of data analytics that can help you understand your customers better.

We combine a robust point of sale system, inventory management, and purchasing system with our advanced restaurant analytics platform to show you exactly what your customers are spending on, and whether your customer experience programs are improving your progress towards important business targets. 

If you’d like to know how Mosaic can help you improve your customer experience, contact us now for a free consultation!