Customers today crave convenience, speed, and a personalized experience wherever they go, and whatever they do. As a result, it’s not surprising that the demand for online food ordering, delivery, and takeout has skyrocketed over the past few years. Off-premise dining not only answers these customer needs, but is also an excellent way for restaurants to increase revenue, expand their customer base, and ramp up check size an average of 23 percent. In spite of these advantages, some restaurateurs fear getting started with online food delivery because they are concerned about missing out on valuable, in-person customer interactions. To help alleviate that fear and encourage business owners to amplify their online ordering experiences, we’ve provided four tips on how to stay connected with customers ordering online.
- Customize your platform listing and online menu
Your restaurant page on third-party platforms like Uber Eats and DoorDash is one of your online shopping windows. It needs to attract potential customers, and in order to do that, it should represent your brand’s voice and personality.
A surefire way to communicate with your (potential) guests is by customizing your page. Write a personal intro text about your restaurant, food, and vision. Next—and most importantly— offer an enticing menu featuring delivery-proof, high-quality and preferably customizable dishes.
Adding attractive, high-definition pictures of your meals will help convince people to order in a flash, but they’ll also want to read more about the dish. That’s where descriptions come in; they provide the perfect opportunity to let your brand personality shine through. By creating original names for your dishes and adding clever descriptions, you’re reinforcing your brand recognition despite it being a virtual encounter. Just ask yourself: would you rather order a “Large Cheese Plate” or a “Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese Plate?”
- Leverage social media
Whether you love it or hate it, social media is a highly effective way to create and improve customer interaction. There are numerous ways to connect with your followers. Here are a few examples:
- Social media is the perfect platform for contests. Organize giveaways, offer a free delivery meal to one or several customers with great photos of your meals, or even offer a reward for creative new dish ideas. Anything goes!
- Take advantage of user-generated content. Invite your customers to share photos of the meals they’ve ordered, and share these in your feed or stories.
- Whenever someone posts a picture or story of your food, encourage them to use custom hashtags that you’ve created for your restaurant.
- Share behind-the-scenes stories of your kitchen team preparing orders or delivery drivers picking up meals. Stories are also a good way to communicate hygiene measures and quality checks, and to show the faces behind your brand.
- Ask your fans and followers to vote for their favorite offerings to help inform upcoming specials, limited edition food or drinks, or item selection for meal boxes.
Putting time and effort into developing your social media accounts is a great way to connect with customers. Over time, organic growth of those accounts can help you disperse messaging to your loyal customers at little-to-no cost.
- Make each order personal
Once your order is ready and collected by a food delivery courier, it’s out of your hands. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with the customer. First and foremost, make sure you get the basics right—utilizing a point of sale (POS) that integrates with your online ordering solution helps ensure each order is correct and complete. Timeliness and order accuracy matter most to your customer, and getting their order right speaks volumes.
Consider boosting customer interaction by branding and personalizing your food orders. Add a handwritten thank you note to each order, write a short message on containers, cups, napkins, or bags, or add branded freebies like stickers, utensils, or recipes. Branded, thoughtful packaging can help round out a truly unique ‘unboxing’ experience. If done right, you increase the likelihood of your client sharing a photo on social media, generating extra visibility to your brand. It’s a win-win!
Finally, think about offering a ‘build your own’ meal option to give your online customers an ultra-personalized dining experience. Emphasize an understanding of personal preference by offering ways for clients to make a dish their own.
Allowing a personal touch often doesn’t burden your kitchen staff, and the gesture can make all the difference to your customers.
- Seek out and welcome feedback
- It can be challenging to directly reach customers who have placed their order through a third-party service like Uber Eats or Foodora. But restaurants can effectively seek out feedback in many other ways:Ask for feedback and input using polls, include a survey in follow up communications about a customer’s order, or consider using your social channels to encourage feedback.. You can talk directly to your customers and get valuable insights about your products and services at the same time.
- Include a feedback card in your delivery and take-out bags. It’s easy to create a custom quick response (QR) code your customers can scan, directing them to an online feedback form. Don’t forget to provide an incentive to those who take the time to give their feedback—consider sharing a discount or a coupon for their next order.
- Spend time reading your restaurant’s reviews on the delivery platforms where you are listed. Use those reviews to transparently communicate how you’re taking action on that feedback through social media, your newsletter, or in your website’s commonly asked questions section.
- If you have your own delivery service and/or online ordering app, you can use customer relationship management (CRM) data to send your customers personalized offers, discounts, feedback forms, and more.
Customer Interaction May be Harder Online, But It’s Not Impossible
Online ordering has become a crucial part of the restaurant and food industry. By offering delivery and takeout, you are ensuring your customers have a safe and effective way to support your business. Don’t run the risk of falling behind your competitors by not maintaining quality customer interactions with off-premise guests.