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National Restaurant Association - The Customer Journey has Evolved

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The Customer Journey has Evolved Can your restaurant loyalty program evolve with it?

Visa - customer journey and loyalty

It used to be much simpler to engage with your customers. Stop by the table during their meal and ask how it was going, maybe offer a punch-card loyalty program for a free dessert. Nowadays, there’s a digital evolution happening, and the customer journey has changed significantly. To innovate in your restaurant, you need to be on social media, offer online promotions and have a great website -- and your loyalty program needs to go digital.

The traditional customer journey has evolved and your most loyal customers are at the forefront of the digital evolution. In fact, 72 percent of guests report that a digital loyalty program is a strong motivating factor when selecting a restaurant, according to Visa’s Digital Transformation of SMBs.

The impact of a loyalty program

Why put in the effort if you don’t know the reward? It turns out that when you offer a loyalty program, the rewards are endless. According to Visa’s survey, 50 percent of customers will participate, on average. Of the small- and mid-size businesses that offer a loyalty program, Visa reports that about three-quarters say they see the program’s biggest impact in higher revenues. More than eight in 10 report the biggest impact is driving repeat business (cited by 85 percent) and increasing average ticket size (80 percent). 

For maximum rewards, listen to your guests

Not all loyalty programs are created equal. In fact, only 10 percent of survey respondents prefer the traditional stamp/punch cards. The remaining 90 percent say they prefer a digitally based loyalty program. Mixt, a quickservice salad restaurant, learned that lesson quickly. The company started a punch-card program to reward guests, and it didn’t take long to see the pain points: customers forgot their cards, checkout slowed down, and it was expensive to print the cards. Worse, there was no real way for Mixt to track repeat customers. So they launched a digital card loyalty program. No more punch cards and a link right to your digital payment. Earning loyalty perks was easy for guests -- and for the restaurant, keeping tabs on their loyal regulars is an added perk, too.

Mixt is now able to gain insights on customers’ habits, send e-mail marketing, and delight Mixt Rewards members with birthday surprises.

How to create a digital loyalty program

Loyalty programs are a sure-fire way to enhance the guest experience. Yet despite the high proportion of consumers who want these programs, just one in five businesses offer them, Visa reports. If you’re thinking of getting in the game, here’s a quick process to launch your program.

Set it up in a way that’s easy: This means you need to offer rewards that customer want, make the rewards easy to earn and ensure they can be earned in a timely manner. Complexity discourages customers.

Consider your options: There are multiple digital loyalty options available. Be sure to consider the one that makes the most sense for you. Point-of-sale-enabled loyalty programs are great, especially if your restaurant POS offers the option. This allows everything to happen in one place and provides great analytics. Card-linked programs are similar, but allow customers to link the program to their payment card. Full-service loyalty providers exist as well to build completely customized experiences.

Educate everyone: Once you’ve set up your loyalty program you want to be sure your customers know it exists - so promote it! But don’t forget to train and educate your staff, too.

Visa reports that 65 percent of consumers say they look to see if a business has a loyalty program prior to shopping at a store, visiting a restaurant, or trying out a services. Be sure your restaurant can check that box.

This post sponsored by VisaDiscover what Digital Transformation means for your business.


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