Creating Lifetime Customers, Step 2 of 3
With the heat having failed to subside thusfar, I bring you part two of “Creating Lifetime Customers”:
#2. Create Lasting Relationships With Your Customers
Evidence (and common sense) strongly suggests that eating is a social experience, and when someone goes out to a restaurant, the employees and staff become a part of this socialization. That may sound strange, but it’s prove time and time again to be true — customers don’t just want good food, they want to feel a part of something. A person’s favorite restaurant where he or she feels at home — the waitress knows his or her name and asks about the kid; the kitchen knows the “usual.” Maybe they’ve met the managers, the owner. Whether eating alone or with family, the restaurant staff makes the customer feel like he or she belongs. They are part of something, an emotional experience worth paying for.
A quick web search for anecdotal evidence brings up dozens of examples of poor customer service, cold wait staffs, and general disinterest with regards to the quality of the customer’s experience. One editorial relays the story of a man who tried to make reservations for a large at a new restaurant, only to be told he’d have to arrive within the hour. The reason? Only one other customer was dining at the time, and the waiters and manager wanted to go home early. Needless to say, the group dined elsewhere that evening. They’re unlikely to try the first place again. It almost seems to obvious to bother saying, but you can’t make customers feel like they’re unwanted or as though everyone working that night’s counting down the minutes before closing. Part of the emotional experience they’re looking for is feeling like they belong, as though they’re wanted. It’s your job to provide that service.
The most successful restaurants go beyond the basics of friendly customer service to create lifetime customers. A warm, homey decor (or a hip, modern one, if that’s the vibe you’re advertising) goes a long way to providing paying customers with the comfort they desire for meals away from home. Consistency, too, is paramount. Paying enough attention to customers to know what to change or not change on the menu, what else you might be able to offer, and what keeps them coming back (so you can be sure to play it up to the new blood!) allow you to monitor what makes your establishment attractive, what the customers like enough to return for. Then you’ll know exactly how to do it even better, and that’s what keeps bringing the people in, whether it’s for their morning coffee or their favorite haute cuisine.
For part three of this mini-series, check back on Friday.
Until then, contact us here.