It’s not just the food that draws customers into restaurants time and time again. It’s the ambiance, the environment, and the experience they have while dining.
Products alone are no longer enough to keep customers interested in a business. For brands to stand out and form lasting connections with customers, they must captivate customers and form a bond with them.
Here are a few ways you accomplish that and impress and engage customers in a restaurant.
Decorate walls with dynamic digital screens
To bring movement and energy to your restaurant, use dynamic digital signage along your walls and behind your food counters.
Digital screens bring a new life to menus as food items are no longer listed in a boring, static format. Instead, digital menu boards show moving photo slideshows, animated graphics, and promotional videos. This engaging format makes it easier and more fun for guests to choose their menu items and learn about new or unfamiliar offerings.
But it’s not just food menus that can be displayed on digital screens. Digital signage in your restaurants can also share a variety of content, promotions, and messages, a few of which we will discuss in the rest of this article.
Create new print menus monthly or weekly
While digital screens are a captivating way to call action to your wall-mounted menus, there is another way to share your offerings with your guests.
If you use print menus, you can engage customers in a restaurant by updating your menus every week or month. Changing up your menu gives customers a new experience each time they visit your location.
As you create new print menus, include updated content, promotions, and messages (just as you do through your digital menu signage). This approach gives you two platforms for promoting your engagement initiatives.
Enable table-side ordering
Another way to put your menu in the hands of your customers is by using table-side ordering screens. Place touch screen or iPads digital menus at each table so customers can browse through the menu and order new items on their own.
With table-side ordering, customers can scan through interactive media that promotes food options, as well as content that promotes your outreach and engagement initiatives.
Encourage guests to share photos of their food.
Food photography and the social sharing of dining experiences is a popular trend. People love to share images of great looking meals, desserts, and dishes.
Tap into that phenomenon by encouraging your customers to share photos of their food on social sites. Places messages around your establishment (on digital screens and in print menus) that invite customers to share photos and tag your business or use your branded hashtag.
Take it a step further and engage customers in a restaurant even more by hosting contests that reward customers for sharing the best photos of your food.
Share and curate user-generated content
Once you set up a system that encourages guests to take photos of their food and share it on social media, highlight their efforts. Engage customers in a restaurant by showcasing the content they create on your digital screens.
When you ask customers to share their experiences on social sites using a specified hashtag, you can then curate the photos and posts on digital platforms. Using a tool like Social Pulp or Tagboard, you can display a screen that has feeds of messages that use the hashtag. You can also share photos or comments in new issues of your print menu.
This gives customers a reason to engage with your social profiles and share their experience as they will want to get their photo or post featured on one of your platforms.
Create loyalty and rewards programs
Customer engagement is about having a two-way relationship. It’s not all about your customers giving to you. It’s also about giving back to your customers.
One way to create that mutually beneficial relationship is by offering a program that rewards loyal customers. Engage customers in a restaurant by giving them incentives to visit again and bring their friends.
Create a loyalty system that rewards customers for their purchases but also for other actions and engagements with your brand. Use a form of gamification that gives points or badges to customers for performing actions like sharing on social media, bringing a friend, visiting a certain amount of times, or other activities that bring in revenue or promote your brand.
Offer table-side games
Using your table-side screens, you can engage customers in a restaurant even more by offering games. Games could be single-player interactions that customers enjoy on their own. Or, they could tie together the entire restaurant for competition through trivia or other points based games.
By giving customers something to do while they wait, you improve the experience of their visit. It’s not just a trip to eat. It’s a trip to have fun and spend time with family or friends.
You can also sync your games to your loyalty program so games are tied to the points or rewards systems. This approach gives customers even more reason to get involved with the activities at your restaurant.
To engage customers in a restaurant — offer experiences
Whether you choose to employ one or more of these customer engagement ideas, keep one thing in mind.
As you decide what engagement tools and strategies will work best for your restaurant, always be thinking about how to provide guests with an uplifting experience. Dining out isn’t just about eating great food. It’s about having a great time with friends and family.
Give guests moments they can remember to get them to come back time and time again.
To learn more about how to impress and engage customers, check out our free ebook How to Impress Your Customers and Provide Exceptional Experiences.