Attract more diners and build loyalty with a personalized dining experience

It’s said that you are what you eat and you attract like-minded individuals.

It’s also true for restaurants. The way you interact with your customers determines who comes to your establishment.

In the competitive restaurant industry, brands must continually maintain customer loyalty, attract new customers, and keep cross-channel engagement high.

And it starts with how you make your customers feel.

Almost 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for a superior customer experience.

To attract customers and build loyalty, your restaurant needs to deliver a seamless customer-centric dining experience through both online and in-person interactions.

And it starts before they step into your establishment…

When your customers first interact with your brand — whether they’re signing up for a newsletter, booking a table, or placing an order online — entice them to set up a profile so you can start collecting customer data.

This single customer view is the foundation to personalizing your customers’ dining experience that will attract and retain more customers.

With each interaction, you’ll gather more information on your customers. The customer profiles will get richer, providing you with more data to deliver an outstanding experience in your restaurant:

Customer Preferences

Delight your customers with pleasant surprises and relevant recommendations by inviting them to add information about their preferences or dietary restrictions to their profiles when they make a reservation.

People are wary about giving away their information, so make sure to explain how you’ll be using the information to personalize their experience in your restaurant and include a link to your privacy policy.

Social Media

Augment a customer’s in-person experience with social media interactions while they’re in your restaurant.

Encourage your customers to check in and share their experience, e.g., post photos and tag your business.

Consider rewarding them for sharing your business with their friends and followers, e.g., with a small discount or a complimentary dessert for their next visit.

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Listen to your customers’ feedback through social media. If you can link up social media comments with customer profiles, you can take note of their preferences to provide a personalized experience during their next visit.

You can even get your customers to participate in designing the next menu items by asking questions or doing a poll on social media.

Mobile App

Encourage customers to place their orders on a mobile app, either for pick up immediately or at a scheduled time, to deliver a seamless takeout experience.

Your customers can set their preferences for easy access to their favorite dishes, or order from a list of past purchases.

In addition, you can set up push notifications to offer special deals at times when customers tend to place their orders or when they’re in the vicinity of your restaurant.

Leveraging this strategy, TGI Fridays increased mobile conversion rate by 35%.

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Customize Dining Experience

Use the information on your customers’ profiles, such as birthdays or anniversaries, to help customers create special memories.

Perhaps you can send an email reminder to book a table for their spouses’ birthday and help them set up just the right atmosphere for a romantic night out.

Or, you can find out if they’re celebrating anything special when they book a table (e.g., a job promotion) to help them create the perfect ambiance for the occasion.

Wow Your Customers With the Right Experience

With so many ways to deliver a personalized message, it can be daunting to choose which type of interactions to capitalize on.

Make sure you design an experience that’s on-brand and engaging for your target market.

For example, Chipotle caters to their on-the-go customers with an app with which they can save their favorite orders for a quick and seamless experience.

The easy-to-navigate tools helps eliminate the frustration of standing in line and waiting for an order to get prepared.

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After putting in the effort to design a seamless experience across all touch points, don’t forget to tell your customers about the different channels through which they can interact with you.

Unlock the future of restaurant marketing with omnichannel customer experience.

Consumers are expecting to interact with brands seamlessly online and offline and they expect the same experience from their favorite restaurants.

If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to be present at all touch points throughout the entire customer journey:

Get Them In the Door

The decision-making process starts before customers walk into your restaurant. Reach your customers through a variety of touch points to get them in the door.

Review Sites

More and more people are using online reviews to help them choose where they’re going to dine.

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In fact, research has found that a one-star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating is correlated with a 5 to 9% increase in revenue.

Establish a presence on restaurant review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Be proactive in addressing feedback and encouraging your customers to leave a review.

Social Media

Social media is another channel to boost word-of-mouth buzz.

According to Forrester, 34% of diners use information on social media to aid decision-making.

In addition to establishing a social media presence by posting regularly, make sure to monitor mentions and interact with your followers to build relationships.

Mobile Marketing

When your customers are in the vicinity of your restaurant, why not offer a deal to entice them to pay a visit?

By combining geofencing technology with customer profiles, you can deliver relevant offers to customers who are in the area and therefore more likely to visit your establishment.

Online Booking

Don’t make your customers wait!

Integrate with online booking services so you can provide timely and prompt services when customers arrive at your restaurant.

Serve Them What They Want

When customers are in your restaurant, use a combination of in-person interaction and mobile technology to enhance their experience.

Personalized Service

Note down customers’ preferences in their profiles so servers can personalize the interactions while addressing individual preferences and dietary restrictions.

For example, instead of “what would you like to drink?” a server may ask, “would you like a glass of the red wine that you had when you were here last week?”

Order Customization

Allow customers to “build their own order” by choosing from a set of ingredients for their orders either on their phones or via a tablet provided by the restaurant.

For returning customers, you can display a list of their favorite ingredients or dishes to facilitate the process.

Nutritional Information

More and more customers are concerned about the nutrition of their foods.

Make it easy for them to get such information while they’re ordering, e.g., you can create a mobile app with all the data, or include QR codes on the menu for customers to scan and get the information.

Easy Payment

Note down customers’ preferred payment method to facilitate checkout, e.g., using a credit card on file or mobile payment.

Keep Them Coming Back

The interaction with your customers doesn’t end when they finish dining. Continue to build relationships through mobile technology, social media, and targeted advertising.

Loyalty Program

Customer spending increases by 15% when diners redeem a loyalty incentive and by 72% when they’re stretching to reach their next reward.

Use online and mobile technology to help customers track loyalty points — not only is it more convenient but you can also increase engagement by rewarding other interactions such as social sharing.

Personalized Email Campaigns

Build single customer view profiles and use the information to inform your email marketing campaigns.

Send relevant content and deals to your customers to entice them to return to your restaurant.

Targeted Ads

Segment your audience and targeted online ads to promote special offers to your existing customers, leveraging information from your customer profiles to deliver the most relevant deals.


Even though the restaurant industry is still very much a brick-and-mortar business, you have to meet the customers where they’re at by being present on all channels where they interact with brands.

By employing an omnichannel marketing strategy, you’ll be able to attract more customers, increase their dining frequency, improve customer satisfaction, and increase loyalty.

Lessons Learned From Omnichannel Dynamo Chili’s

With different mediums of shopping, companies have to create a seamless shopping experience across the board. As a result, every aspect of the consumer journey, from browsing to purchasing, has to be a smooth transition, both online and offline. People demand an omnichannel experience that is social, quick, easy to use, and valuable to the consumer.

Technological creativity seems to have more of an impact than a brand name. Customers are no longer impressed by a shiny new app of their name being personalized in an email. The 21st-century customer expects brands to create an omnichannel shopping experience that encompasses all online and offline interactions. 

Let’s take a look at how Chili’s is using omnichannel and a little technical creativity to create the ultimate dining experience

Wait in line….from home

Gone are the days of waiting in line at Chili’s to get a table. The casual dining restaurant has partnered with NoWait to power their new mobile waitlisting feature on the Chili’s app.  Through the use of the app, Chili’s can provide an enhanced dining experience. For diners who wish to enjoy their favorite menu items during peak hours. With the waitlisting feature, diners can reserve a spot in line and check up on wait times from any location or mobile device.

The waitlisting capability has given Chili’s an advantage in restaurant-diner relations. By combining the mobile and in-restaurant experience, diners have convenience and speed at their fingertips. The wait listing feature allows Chili’s to have faster table turnover and accurate estimates for wait times.  Guests can not only check up on wait times but can also go ahead and order what they would like while still “waiting in line” while in the app. With combo offers and other special menu offers, Chili’s now gives diners a way to get their food without waiting in line and with little preparation time. Chili’s use of the waitlisting feature creativity uses mobile to optimizing the in-store dining experience.


Social Media Embrace Social Media 

Across social media platforms, food and beverage mentions are the most popular. The way customers review restaurants on social media fundamentally changes the way restaurants are approaching social media. According to a Netbase report , Chili’s is one of the most popular brands on social media.

So what did Chili’s do right to make them among the top 15 most popular social media brands?

Chili’s embraces the way food and beverages are consumed from a social media perspective. It is no longer enough for a restaurant to have great written reviews. Presentation and picture quality is the new buzz in food reviews. Because of this shift, Chili’s has made changes to the brick and mortar restaurant to garner positivity on the digital landscape. Even the way food is prepared is being changed to be more appealing in photos. For example, French fries are served in stainless steel bins, ribs are neatly placed on plates, and even the plates themselves have been revamped to be prettier in photos.

The goal is to make menu items look more tempting in pictures, increasing the number of mentions and shares online. This improves Chili’s online presence and visibility on high traffic platforms like Instagram.

Tabletop tablets 

Smartphones and tablets have made access to information and services available at our fingertips. The demand for convenience and speed has started shaping the way restaurants are tackling food service. While online ordering and delivery have made the eating-out experience easier, customers lose the dining experience. As a result, sit down restaurants are now introducing the tabletop tablet. This system allows diners to place food and drink orders through a provided tablet. Diners now have control of their dining experience. These tablets streamline food service without replacing the personal interactions with servers. With the tap of the finger, dinner guests can now input orders and requests such as waiter service, beverage refills, and chats with the chef.

This year, Chili’s implemented over 70,000 tablets across its restaurants to provide a smooth, reliable dining experience. The smart table top option is tightly integrated with the Chili’s ordering system, ensuring that everything is up to date. The tablet displays the most relevant and updated menu items, prices, and descriptions and can even show customized consumer reviews of the items that you have ordered.

The ability to omnichannel approach to ordering and paying for food through a tablet has boosted the volume of orders. The speed with which customers can pay with the tablet has also increased table turnover. As a result, Chili’s can seat more customers than before.

Chili’s has done a fantastic job of leveraging technological creativity to create omnichannel success.  Have you seen other restaurant brands using omnichannel to enhance their customer experience? Let me know in the comment section below.