Date29 July 2019
In today's mobile-obsessed world, it feels like there is a mobile app for everything -- and it's no wonder. With the average British consumer checking their phone 80 times a day, apps offer a one-way ticket for you to be at the forefront of your customers' consciousness.
However, the restaurant business has seen mixed results in app take-up and usability, proving that there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
In this two-part article, we'll go over the basic benefits of launching an app, before explaining how they can be used to help you understand your customers better and how you can use this information to improve brand loyalty.
Taking the initiative
Only a few restaurants have been able to make a success of their app -- many have found themselves with inflexible and static systems that quickly go out-of-date and don't allow them to build-out new features.
Many more have yet to take the plunge - they have a vague idea that an app is something they should have, but no clear understanding of what it would be used for.
It's no wonder therefore that third-party apps such as Just Eat dominate the market.
And while you might think that you're doing fine without an app, somewhere out there is a competitor who does have an app and is growing their business with it. Simply doing nothing means your company is missing out on a competitive advantage.
But getting it right is easier than you might think and well worth the rewards -- after all, apps are your opportunity to always be in your customers' pocket. Let's look at some of the things that great apps allow restaurants to do.
Apps are the ideal platform for building a long-term relationship with your customers.
Loyalty programmes are a proven way to bring in new customers and increase the loyalty of existing ones. Vouchers will entice potential users to download your app, after which push notifications allow you to alert them to your latest special offers.
According to research, 80% of UK consumers say that they would return to a restaurant to benefit from in-app loyalty schemes.
Enhance the Customer Experience
From online reservations to ordering in advance, apps can make interacting with your restaurant a breeze.
Customers should be able to ask staff questions over an instant messaging service and have access to real-time information, such as how busy the restaurant is, how long they might have to wait for a table and what's on today's specials board.
Furthermore, they should have access to unique services such as the ability to pay at the table using the app. These factors also benefit the restaurant's operations, as it can operate more efficiently.
Deliver Fresh Content
Content ensures that your customers get something new every time they open the app. The latest restaurant news, recipes, competitions and even games are a great way to increase engagement and ensure that customers constantly have a reason to come back to the app.
It's also an opportunity for you to reinforce your brand -- a steady flow of content shows that your restaurant is a busy and successful business that is passionate about food and has lots of interesting things to say.
Many diners won't go anywhere without checking it out online first, and so ratings on sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp can make or break a restaurant.
Use your app to encourage feedback on each transaction. You can give customers a chance to rate their experience and comment on what was good or needed improvement. Then offer them the option to post their rating and review online.
Dissatisfied customers should be sent a personalised apology via the app, along with a remedy to win their business back; for example, free desserts with their next meal for two.
With Big Data Comes Big Benefits
These advantages are just the first stage of how apps can improve your customer experience and increase your business revenues.
But imagine if you could predict what a customer would buy -- you'd then have the ability to send personalised offers directly to them. They'll be more likely to come back, more likely to engage with your brand and more likely to tell their friends how great your food and service is.
In the next article, we will look at benefit number five -- data -- and learn how a small investment in technology can see an app become your customer service multiplier.