15August, '13

3 Successful Social Media Tools for Restaurants

 

Technology alone can’t earn loyal customers

Social Media Tools for Restaurants
 
You’ll read a lot of blog posts where social media enthusiasts will try to convince you that a certain kind of technology can remarkably boost your customer relationships. Truth is, technology alone can never improve relations. It can help you keep track of data and derive conclusions from it, but at the end of the day, it is your personal interaction with the people that will compel your diners to keep coming back to your restaurant.

 
For first-time customers at your restaurant, it’s easier to please them through an experience better than their expectations. You’ll earn a “delighted” customer. But if this delighted customer returns, he’ll do so with higher expectations. Providing an even better experience consistently and raising the bar will earn you a “loyal” customers. You should go for delighting your customers but aim for loyal customers as these are the diners who’ll stick with you. The question is: how do you exceed expectations?
 
The answer lies in using three critical tools that will help you achieve success on social media:

 

1. The Social Memories:

Hotels and restaurants aren’t retail businesses. They’re about real people helping real guests create memories at your eatery. People step out of their houses and head off to restaurants to celebrate occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, first dates or simply to hang out with family and friends.
 
Whatever they’re getting together for, the essence of it is – they’re there to make memories. If your restaurant can’t help your guests remember these moments, you’ve missed out on your primary goal.
 
For proof, you can observe what people share on Facebook, Twitter or other networks after parties. A huge majority would share photos of themselves with their friends having a really good time. They rarely talk about the fabric of the napkin or the texture of the wooden table. It’s true that ambience is a part of the experience, but it’s not the one people will talk about the most. They’ll talk about how they “felt”; they’ll talk about “emotionally” connecting with the place.

 

2. Happy Staff:

Ever seen a grumpy waiter? We bet that really put a smile on your face, didn’t it? You can’t expect your customers to leave your dine-in smiling if you aren’t prepared to give them a reason to. Smiles are contagious. When we were little, we heard the phrase “friendship starts with a smile”. At your restaurant, service should start with a smile.
The happier your employees are, the better they’ll be able to serve your customers. Not only that, a happy staff means they’ll talk highly of your restaurant without sounding sales-y.
 
It’s important that you attract high IQ, high EQ, well-educated and polite talent because it will shape the kind of customers you will attract. Treat your employees as well as you would treat your customers.

 

3. Community Engagement:

Involve yourself in the activities of your community. Your restaurant should make a place for itself in the lives of the people so they can feel that you’re part of it. Look for events that promote the same values as your restaurant or festivals that attract the same target audience. This can yield several benefits for you.
 
Engaging in the community where your employees and customers come from can help you understand their social styles, wants and needs. This in turn will help you shape the two experiences we’ve talked about above.
 
Second, you’ll rely less on heavy marketing budgets because customers and employees will relate to your values and will have a context for talking about you.
 
Third, if you can get them talking about you, you’ll be investing in word-of-mouth marketing automatically which will help you get new customers. Recommendations from friends are more credible to diners than branded messages.
Fourth, and final, you’ll be able to build a ‘brand’ – which is the perception people have of your restaurant – that is positive and relative to your diners.

 
We love technology and we know that it can help restaurant, cafe and bar owners manage their restaurants but we also realise that merely technology is not the answer to building a great dining experience. You should think about creating guest, employee and community experiences because digital cannot replace the richness of personal interactions. If you want to add your own thoughts to this, let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear how your restaurant is aiming for loyal customers.