All industries, including restaurants, are moving toward mobile to provide better service to their customers. Mobile is convenient and allows customers to engage with businesses on a device they’re already using most of the day.
Mobile apps, mobile friendly online booking options, and SMS loyalty clubs are some of the ways that businesses have successfully incorporated mobile into their business model. Restaurants can benefit from using mobile to manage their reservations and delivery services as well to improve customer service and satisfaction.
Here are some top ways restaurants can use mobile for enhanced customer service:
Mobile apps are experiencing a golden age and businesses are turning to building customer loyalty through apps. In fact, businesses that have an app can experience a 100 percent increase in their online sales after a year.
Apps allow restaurants to gather all of their essential customer communication in one convenient spot where they can track customer interactions. Customers can ask questions or make comments, take orders, make reservations and receive/use the promotions, all in the same place.
Apps have a high level of success with customer satisfaction polls. Polls are a great way for restaurants to find out how they can improve customer service.
Polls also give customers an outlet where they can voice their dissatisfaction with the food, service, or other factors in their experience with your establishment. This is important because it allows restaurants to make up for a negative experience and can prevent customers from venting on review sites or other places.
Mobile-friendly online reservations
Online bookings are convenient for both the patron and the restaurant. Instead of having to call and speak to a host or hostess to make the reservation, customers can simply click on the restaurant’s reservation calendar to make their reservation.
It's easier to make the reservation on the go without having to wait on hold or be in a quiet place to be able to hear the person on the other end. This system has various benefits for the restaurant as well:
The host or hostess can focus their attention on customers who are present instead of having to answer the phone to take reservations. Restaurants can send a push notification to the patron, advising them that their reservation is confirmed.
The system can send a notification advising the patron of an upcoming reservation so they don’t forget it. This same notification can include a link to cancel the reservation in case the patron's plans changed, which will automatically free up the table on the reservation system without someone having to unreserve the table manually.
SMS loyalty programs
Restaurants can engage customers through mobile with well-thought restaurant text messaging campaigns. Some tips for successful SMS loyalty initiatives:
Get customers to opt in by making an enticing offer such as a free meal, free dessert, or discount. Be honest and clear about the conditions of the program: the frequency (weekly/bi-weekly/monthly) and nature (only promo or promo+educational or funny stuff) of messages you will send. Make it easy for customers to opt out whenever they want and show them how to do that.
Send customers personalized messages based on their habits such as nights of the week they tend to visit your establishment, the meals they tend to order, etc. Don’t just send them blanket promotions but send them something that lets them know you value their business enough to know what they like.
For example, if a customer usually comes in for Tuesday lunch and orders a Cobb Salad, you could offer them “Tuesday special discount just for you! Enjoy your next Cobb Salad (or other menu item) with a 20 percent discount.”
Be consistent with your SMS campaign. Erratic and irrelevant messaging might result in opt-outs. Your texts should bring an instant and significant value, otherwise it will just irritate your subscribers.
Mobile pay is a burgeoning transaction method, but one that is increasing gaining ground with clients for its convenience. Rather than having to wait for the waiter to drop off the check and stand in line for the hostess to ring up your bill, you can simply use mobile pay and be on your way.
No more lines, no more waiting—that’s customer service. As Joel Udwin of Paytronix stated, “Enabling mobile payment can increase known guest percentages, as well as make loyalty an operationally seamless experience.”
Delivery services via mobile messaging
Being able to order takeout or delivery via text is a convenient service that many customers appreciate. Sending a text for an order has a lot of benefits over calling.
Just as it’s more convenient to make a reservation via mobile rather than having to wait to talk to the host or hostess, it’s equally as convenient to place a to-go order via mobile.
No waiting on hold and no running the risk of a misunderstanding—it’s written on the text in black and white.
According to the AppInstitute survey, 63 percent of customers have called a takeaway and gotten a busy signal and not called back. Restaurants can send confirmation texts when an order is ready or ETAs when the delivery is on its way to improve customer experience.
Smart restaurants are using mobile to engage customers through SMS loyalty programs, mobile apps, online reservations, mobile pay, and delivery services via mobile messaging.
Alexa Lemzy is the customer service manager at TextMagic.com, an enterprise SMS service provider. Along with testing customer relationship building tactics every day, Alexa writes what she has learned from other businesses and keep an eye on the growing power of mobile.