This week I was asked to supply a quote about customer loyalty for a Flipdish whitepaper. I thought long and hard. After all, there are so many ways that restaurants and chains can influence customer loyalty, and as a result an almost infinite number of things I could have said.
But in the end, I said something like this:
The single thing that will most influence customer loyalty is getting your mobile app onto your customer’s phones”
For some this will be self-evident. For anyone else, I wrote this article to explain why.
Let’s Talk Phones
Sometimes it is hard to believe that the smartphone barely existed only a dozen years ago.
Research suggests that we check our phones somewhere around 100 times a day. We reach for it when we wake up, and for far too many of us (guilty as charged) it is the last thing we see before we go to sleep at night. The smartphone is a part of our life.
Perhaps more importantly, we have become used to turning to our phones when we want to get something done. Need a taxi? Open up the relevant app on our phone. Need to book a hotel? Send money to a friend? Check the time of the next train? Or just entertain ourselves for a couple of minutes? Again - we reach for the phone.
That’s why businesses large and small spend millions of pounds a year encouraging us to install their apps on our phones. If you’re the sort of person who still watches TV, check out how many TV ads remind us to ‘download the app’ next time you are waiting for the second half of Coronation Street.
Those businesses all know one big thing:
Being on the phone screen is worth a small fortune.
As millions of phones are pulled out of millions of pockets every day, just being there can be the difference between success and failure.
That matters to restaurants, bars and takeaways more than most. Because one thing we most definitely do on our phones is order food for collection or delivery. So when your customers go to order, you want to be on that screen. There is no better way to become a regular part of your customer’s lives - and drive loyalty and revenue as a result.
So What Do I Do?
In short, right now you need to do two things:
- Have an awesome app
- Make sure your customers download it
The first point is easy. Get your own app, and make it great. Newsflash: people don’t return to buggy, awkward experiences that make ordering a meal feel like landing a man on the moon. Conversely, if your app is a pleasure to use, it will be the first thing your loyal customers gravitate towards when they take the phone from their pocket.
Fortunately, all Flipdish apps are built and tested to be as good as it gets when it comes to slick, intuitive user experience - so your customers will love them.
The second point - getting the app onto your customer’s phone - is harder. Let’s be honest, it’s a war out there. Pretty much every business in the world wants to do the same thing after all.
Even worse, there are ‘food aggregators’ out there (naming no names) who have multi-million budgets that they use to get their own apps on the phone screen and put themselves between you and your customer, and ultimately put you out of business.
These organisations are not your friends, and you can’t let that happen. Relying on them to meet your online ordering needs is a bit like swimming with sharks all day in the hope you’ll pick up a little discarded fish at some point.
So after you have your app up and running, make it your mission to get every last one of your customers onto the app as soon as possible. Dedicate your life to making it happen. Talk about it until you are blue in the face. And take some of these simple practical steps:
- Offer a discount on the first order placed via your app
- Deliver a loyalty scheme for orders placed via your app (or website). Flipdish can help.
- Promote your own app everywhere. Promote Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat nowhere. Why send your own customers to sites that take up to the 30% of your revenue?
- Ensure every piece of marketing material, every flyer, every t-shirt, every poster you produce includes a reminder to ‘download the app’. Remember those TV adverts I mentioned above? Be like them.
Do all these things and in no time you’ll have your customers ordering directly from your own app, you will own your own data, and the future of your business will be in your own hands. And you will be enjoying greater customer loyalty than ever before.