The restaurant business is notoriously competitive, averaging razor-thin margins, with 70% of new establishments closing within three to five years. Add to these tough circumstances that contemporary diners have higher expectations and are more likely to make a beeline for review sites like Yelp if they perceive they’ve had a poor experience.

In today’s market a food business is in a fight for restaurant sales from the moment it opens its doors, however the good news is that restaurants that identify trends and adjust to meet customers’ needs not only survive, but thrive. In this article we will discuss the trend of omni-channel engagement and how it can help you attract customers and increase restaurant revenues.

New challenges impacting restaurant sales

Losing control of your online reputation means loss sales

Gone forever are the days when a disgruntled diner will simply ask for the manager and a complaint is guaranteed to be handled discretely on the spot. The ease of self publishing in the age of social media means he may instead decide to whip out his mobile phone, snap a few photos and post a scathing review while sitting right in the booth.

What you need to know is that his online review matters. Nearly 95% of potential customers read online reviews before spending their money, and the positive impact of reviews far outweighs the impact of paid advertising. You should also be aware of the sheer magnitude of one post online; the top five social media sites alone represent a monthly average user base of 1.5 billion people reading, liking and sharing content.

Your customers expect a good experience wherever they meet your brand

20 years ago your focus would be firmly on providing a great customer service experience within your restaurant. Today your potential customer has likely engaged your brand several times before she places an order or enters your establishment. Whether your customer visits your restaurant’s website on desktop or mobile, or whether she found you by way of a Google search or by reading reviews on Facebook, one thing holds true: customers expect consistency. This task likely seems pretty daunting, but savvy food businesses are already successfully embracing this tenet of modern marketing. Read on to see how you can too!

What is omni-channel engagement and how can it increase restaurant sales?

Providing a consistent customer experience is the core endeavor of omni-channel engagement. Omni-channel engagement is also about providing convenience and limiting friction. Some examples of friction can include:

  • Differing levels of customer service across several branches of a chain restaurant.
  • Disparities in available food items when a customer orders via phone versus ordering from your website.
  • Having inconsistent branding across various social media platforms.
  • Having a website that is difficult to navigate and not mobile-friendly.

With statistics showing that 82% of customers leave a business after a poor customer service experience and don’t return, simply making sure your customers are repeat customers can significantly increase restaurant revenue. So what can you do to put omni-channel engagement to work for you today?

Build trust

Nothing screams sketchy like having inconsistent branding. It makes a restaurant look like quality is of little importance, a sentiment that easily transfers over to the perceived quality of the food that customers might be eating. Make sure your branding is professional and matches across every instance where it’s used online and offline.

Answering reviews also goes a very long way in building trust. In a cooperative study conducted with Edison Research, author Jason Baer (Hug Your Haters) found that 53% of customers who leave reviews expect a response back. Replying to reviews in a professional manner was also shown to boost customer advocacy for a brand by 16%, while leaving a complaint unanswered lead to a 37% decline in customer advocacy.

Offer convenience and an enhanced experience

Meet your customer where they expect to find you doesn’t mean managing 15 different social media accounts. Selecting two to three of the top five social media platforms to enhance your omni-channel marketing is plenty. Once you decide which ones you’ll use, include links to your profiles across your branding and marketing and invite your customers to follow your brand there. To further enhance customer convenience, process payments via multiple methods – in person, via phone orders, on your website, and in apps. Also allow multiple types of payment: cash, credit, debit, and even cryptocurrency.

Bonus Tip: Phone orders are your secret weapon

Any restaurant business serious about increasing sales is looking at taking online orders, however many are leaving money on the table by choosing between taking online orders or phone orders. Others continue to offer a phone order option but neglect its potential as a serious revenue maker.

Here’s why in this super competitive space your restaurant should be taking phone orders:

  • Prominently displaying a phone number on your website or in your mobile app boosts customer trust (and orders).
  • Adding another method for customers to order enhances the customer experience.
  • Taking phone orders allows an excellent opportunity for up-selling.

Thankfully you don’t need to hire or retrain staff to effectively add taking restaurant orders by phone to your omni-channel marketing strategy. Here at TSD Global we specialize in providing professional restaurant call center services to businesses who realize the cost-saving and moneymaking benefits of having an inbound call center. With almost 30 years of experience we’ve helped other businesses increase up-sell rates by 30% within months of working with them.

Increase your restaurant sales today by contacting TSD Global. We’re ready to help you capture more revenue!