9 Ways Restaurants Can Retain Customers Online In 2021

Posted by Priya July 28, 2021 Online Ordering

The retention of customers is vital for any restaurant to succeed. Here are 9 Ways restaurants can retain customers online
Restaurant interior

A restaurant’s success depends on customer retention. The ability to acquire new customers is essential for growing your restaurant. But it is perhaps far more important to get existing customers back to your restaurant. What are the reasons? Customer acquisition is a time-consuming and expensive process. You may find the process tedious.  Retaining an existing customer is 6-7 times more expensive than acquiring a new one.

You can sell the food items more easily to existing customers than the new customers. Extend long-term customer relationships with effective customer retention. Customers are inclined to restaurants offering good food items value for their money. People don’t prefer restaurants that go with a business attitude.  Having loyal customers offers word-of-mouth advertising to their friends. You can use this great promotional technique for almost no cost! Let us check out the customer retention strategies that grow your restaurant business.

What Is Customer Retention?

Customer retention rate indicates the percentage of customers who remain with the business over a given period. Retention rate serves as the key metric for all businesses. In general, restaurants can get loyal customers when there is a low churn value. 

It also shows the business success by retaining more customers over the period. Restaurants measure the customer retention rate to address the problems existing in the business model. Now the restaurant owners can devise a better strategy to retain the customers.

Why are Customer Retention Strategies For Restaurant Considered Important?

Retaining current customers is more cost-effective than earning new customers. Harvard business review reports that acquiring new customers is more expensive. Restaurants allocate 5 to 25 % of the budget for new customers.

In the case of existing customers, restaurant owners, no need to spend more on advertising. Instead, you can repeat the same promotional strategies that gain the customer’s trust. New customers place orders with the restaurant after more convincing.

Repeated business orders do not come from customer loyalty. Often loyal customers suggest the restaurant to colleagues and friends. Scheduling a buzz marketing for the retained customers cultivates long-term customer loyalty.

Tips To Increase Customer Retention Strategies For Restaurant

Devise A Layered Loyalty Retention Program

Loyalty retention programs used by restaurants help in retaining customers. Online ordering system preserve the complete details of customers. The customer data gives the ordering pattern and their favorite menu items. Restaurants can send emails or SMS offers on their favorite menu items on a slow sales day. For example, offer discount coupons on the customer’s birthday or anniversary day. Offer loyalty points whenever the customer places an order with the restaurant. 

A certain percentage discount on every 10th order influences to place frequent orders. Opportunities are endless. Customers love to get involved with offers and reach your restaurants repeatedly. Once a new loyalty retention program is set, restaurants can utilize digital signage boards to scroll the offer text. However, sending too many SMS and emails makes the customer irritate. At one point in time, customers might even block the messages and emails from your restaurant.

Make  A Plan For SMS And Email Marketing

Restaurants consider SMS and email as great source points to attract customers. Emails and SMS extend a warm relationship with customers. Adding a personal touch to the messages and emails brings more customers to your restaurant. Restaurants can introduce a new menu or combo offers through crisp SMS and emails.

A customer feedback request demonstrates the value given to the customer’s opinion. It showcases the commitment towards your customer service. Moreover, it boosts the restaurant’s image among the customers. You can frame email campaigns based on customer data.  This might work great on holidays and festive seasons. You get more loyal customers to your restaurant.

Do you struggle with email marketing strategy? Check out a few strategies that help in engaging customers.

Market Your Restaurant In Social Media Platforms

Social media serves as the spotlight for the restaurant business. Restaurants make use of social media platforms to keep in touch with their customers. Share the delicious and mouth-watery unique dish photos of the restaurant. If you fail to post the content for a long period, then your followers will miss the updates of your restaurant. So share the restaurant posts constantly on social media to engage the customer.

Followers are often considered brand ambassadors who do word-of-mouth advertising for your restaurant. Respond quickly to the customer comments on recipes and services.  You can even send thank you messages to loyal customers and positive comments. Take the extra mile by conducting contests for customers. You can request customers to share specific hashtags supporting your restaurant business. Contests promote the restaurant brand among the customers with better interaction.

 Some of the ideas to make your post interesting in social media channels

  • Events hosted in restaurants.
  • New recipes
  • Decoration and background changes
  • Behind the scenes of the restaurant kitchen
  • Weekly special offers and discounts
  • Customer shared images
  • Best employee of the month

Offer Exceptional Customer Service

Restaurants can win the customer’s heart with exceptional customer service. Expectations of the customer may vary from one person to another. But your restaurant must provide the best of it.  Don’t think that only delicious food will retain customers. But also a quality service will make customers remember your restaurant. Ensure the portion size of the dish is sufficient for the customer’s hunger. Deliver the food to the customer at the right time by avoiding waiting for a long period. If a delay occurs for unexpected reasons, place a call with the customer. Apologize to the customer for the inconvenience. Restaurants must provide live chat in-app and the website. In this way, customers can easily reach the restaurant at any point in time. 

A fine dining restaurant serves many courses that require constant supervision. Here the customers expect high customer service as they pay more. Lack of customer service will disappoint the customer about your restaurant service. Casual dining restaurant customer volume is high, but the service expectation is low.

Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is a powerful tool to offer better service to the customer. After the customer receives the food from the restaurant, request customer feedback. You can conduct polls and surveys to get an honest review of the customer.  Promote the polls and surveys on social media platforms and digital signage boards. 

You can even provide incentives or gift cards for participating in the polls and surveys. You can even place a suggestion box at the restaurant entrance to get the customer’s opinion. Feedback on the food quality and portion size will help you improve your performance. If you get a bad review, apologize to the customer and assure them you will resolve the issue upon the next visit. 

 Bad reviews

The biggest challenge of customer retention is bad reviews. Handling the reviews in the right way will earn you repeat business.  A survey states that 45% of customers plan to choose the restaurant only when the restaurants respond to bad reviews.

When you respond to a negative review, it shows you value the customer’s problems. Not responding to a dissatisfied customer will result in a customer retention failure.  Create happier customers by reading reviews from unhappy customers. Even though bad reviews might be painful. 

Engage Your Customers

Create a community to carry out social media promotions or in-person marketing. Sharing the posts in the community boosts customer engagement. When you own a community, it helps in improving brand loyalty. Now your customers can understand the value of placing orders with your restaurant.  You can even tell an interesting brand story for your restaurant. Engaging stories make the customer remember about your restaurant. Stories create an emotional bond with customers. You can include the food, events, and specialties of the restaurant in the brand story.  

User-Generated Content

Having user-generated content for your restaurant does more than brand awareness spreading. This form of marketing originates from an authentic place. As the customers offer the user-generated content. Customers can relate to this content because they can engage as they are familiar with them.

An anesthetic interior with a decorated plate induces the customer to share pictures. Conducting an Instagram photo contest will assist your restaurant advertising activities.

Loyalty Programs

The simple psychology is rewarding and motivates the customer to place more orders. Customers get loyalty points based on the order value placed by them. Redeem the points against the next food order placed by the customer. Design the loyalty retention program such that it engages the customer. Configure the loyalty program so that it is easily attainable by any customer. 

Create A Better Dining Experience

Customers frequently place repeated orders when they have a positive restaurant experience. Focus on how to provide the smoothest and most enjoyable restaurant experience possible. This could really be what sets your restaurant apart from all the others.

Menu Design

Pay attention to every detail of the restaurant service. So that the customer understands the valuable service offered by the restaurant. A well-structured menu design enhances the customer experience with the restaurant.

A pleasing menu hones the appetite of the customer. Have an eye that the food and interior design go well with the restaurant experience. Restaurants providing an outstanding dining experience establishes emotional connectivity with the restaurant. Menu pricing strategies help you fix the right pricing for food items. You can also control portion with affordable pricing earns you profit.

Table Service

Table service helps you find out how customers feel about your restaurant service. Some of the techniques that assist the customer return back to the restaurant every time. They are:

  • Customers can opt to order their food by course or by seat, so they have a choice.
  • Create personalized orders by utilizing the product sequences. Offer many variations of the single menu. Different menus allow the guest to choose as per their preference. 
  • Monitor the tables and orders by assigning staff for the table. Thus you can provide better customer service.

Host Events

Often restaurants implement various tricks to captivate and retain customers. Hosting events will help you improve your slow night sales. Customers always love to listen to live band music or enjoy a karaoke night on weekdays and weekends. You can even conduct stand-up comedy or music events for famous DJs. Conducting ladies-only participated competitions on the night brings more customers. 

Customers feel interested in spending their nighttime. They might even be ready to pay entry charges for the event. Discuss with the chef and devise a special menu upon hosting the events will gain high profit. Old customers express more interest in attending the events than new customers. Existing customers know more about the restaurant services and specialties.

Design Seasonal Menu Items

 Human brains always look for novelty and new things.  The seasonal menu serves fresh ingredients based on the season. When you provide the same menu on all days, the customer will not show more interest in your restaurant. Not changing the menu for long period forces the customer to look for other restaurants. 

Introduce new menus through email increases customer engagement in the restaurant business. If you think changing the menu might end you with a big risk, then that’s not the case anymore. Online ordering software lets you change the menu with informed decisions of the customer. You can improve the menu design from the scrap.

 Food ordering app analytics report helps you sell the menu items based on customer preferences and season. For instance, you can offer discounts on vegetarian and vegan menu items for customers on a special day.

Effective Use Of CRM

Customer retention strategies for restaurant remains the main ingredient in flavoring business. And there comes customer relationship management(CRM) to help you manage customers. CRM maintains the database for the customer associated with the restaurant. The database contains the contact details, DOB, and anniversary dates. 

Sending a wish on a special occasion will encourage them to plan for a dinner with your restaurant. CRM stores the history of the customer menu preferences. CRM guides restaurants to arrive at better decisions in menu and marketing strategies.

Have A Record Of Customer Profiles

Online ordering systems record customer details with a separate profile. Individual profile supports a personalized experience for the customer. The profile helps you send emails eliminating paper-based receipts. Upload gift cards for special occasions of the customer’s birthdays and anniversary days.

Add Personal Touch

Treat the customers special whenever you serve them. Customers will express more interest in placing orders with the restaurant repeatedly.  Train your employees about how to welcome the guest. Employees must guide the customer to have a seat comfortably in a place. Restaurant staff must remember the customer’s favorite dish. When you serve the customer as per their wish, the customer feels at home. 

Customers can place more orders with familiar serving staff. Moreover, customers can inform their dish preferences. Providing a better service improves customer engagement and retention. Remember that you don’t over impose the customer when you offer service.

Effective Online Restaurant Advertising

Online ordering software updates the upcoming events to the customers through marketing tools. As you hold the customer data running an email campaign is very effective. If a customer has not visited for a long period, restaurants can send a reminder email or SMS. Personalized push notifications help the customer to stay updated with the restaurant news. But don’t send too many messages then people will consider this message as spam.

Social media campaigns help in marketing the restaurant among the customers. Restaurants can conduct polls, contests, and competitions to interact with the customers.  Tweets, posts, and comments improve the restaurant brand loyalty increase customer retention.

What Is Customer Retention Rate?

Customer retention rate is the number of customers managed over a specific time. Retention rate helps you identify the success and failure of the marketing efforts.

Restaurant owners consider business management as a crucial aspect. You must always have an eye on customer retention rates. Customer retention rate tracks business progression and finds which section needs improvement.

How To Calculate Customer Retention Rate?

Customer retention program ideas help restaurant owners to grow their businesses. You can make use of a loyalty program to calculate customer retention. 

Customer retention is the total number of new customers gained in the given period. Subtract new customers from total customers at the end of the time frame(EC). Divide the number obtained by the total amount of customers at the beginning of the period (SC). Multiply the final number by 100.


Consider a quick-service restaurant running a loyalty retention program. At the beginning of the month of May total number of loyal customers is 500. During the month of May restaurant may acquire 150 new customers, and at the same time, 40 customers leave. So the total number of customers at the end of the month is 610. You can calculate the customer retention rate with the following methods.

Customer retention rate = ((610-150)/500)*100

= (460/500)*100

= (0.92)*100

The customer retention rate for the month of May is 92%. 

You can calculate the customer retention rate either weekly or yearly.


Getting a repeat business for your restaurant is not an easy task. Visualize the sales progression with the use of customer retention strategies. Maintain good relationships with the customers to offer satisfied service.

Don’t take customer orders for granted at any point in time. Show how much you appreciate customer business. Request feedback and improve the service then and there to retain your customers. Customer retention strategies for restaurants offer assurance to increase profits.

Author Bio


Priya is a passionate writer and enjoys writing articles about software, technology, and marketing. Through her informative blogs, she regularly discovers new tips and tricks that drive sales for restaurants.

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