How to Win Back Your Lost Restaurant Customer

SHIVANGI BANSAL | 2018-12-20 18:00:00


Competition is increasing every day and so our customers’ expectations. Customers are constantly comparing their experience with other restaurants to evaluate if they are getting bang for their buck. This customer experience depends on the quality and taste of food; the ambience and hygiene level; and the service of your employees. It is necessary to tick all these boxes for a successful restaurant business as it is highly dependent on customers staying happy. Satisfied customers mean repeated visits and increased revenue for the restaurant.


Regardless of how hard the restaurant owners try to make everything perfect, they end up losing a customer. Losing customers is costly. 70% of restaurant owners agree that it is cheaper to retain customers than it is to attract the new ones and despite this only 30 per cent of restaurant owners make a conscious effort to bring back those lost customers.


There are plenty of reasons why a customer would stop visiting your restaurant. It could be the bad quality of food, inconsistent taste of food, a bad customer service experience, unpleasant ambience or they, unfortunately, switched to a competitor due to better pricing. Running a restaurant includes both winning and losing of customers all the time but if you’re not putting enough effort into winning back your lost customers, you’re missing out on a significant amount of revenue-making opportunity.

Fortunately, with smart marketing, it is possible to create specific marketing campaigns that are targeted towards lost customers to urge them to eat at your restaurant once again to provide them with a better experience. Still wondering how you can make that happen?

The answer is WIN BACK CAMPAIGNS! (Ideas
Here) There are numerous articles online about how it has worked out amazingly for a huge number of restaurants. Therefore it is a proven formula to get back your lost customer’s attention and start rolling those orders. The customers just need a little push or tempting offer to turn around and get back inside your restaurant.

Enough of why we need a win-back campaign. Let us focus on how can we send a win-back campaign to your customers. Let’s get into the details!


Who are the targeted customers for the Win-back Campaign?



This is one of the most important parts of your campaign. As we mentioned above customers leave for different reasons. Customers who leave because of high price are most likely to return if certain discounts or price adjustments are made whereas customers who left because of poor service are less likely to return because of the disappointment. There must be several customers who left because of both the reasons and these are the ones that are least likely to come back, not much of a surprise, huh? Collecting this data is not impossible if you’re consistent with your customer feedback. FellaFeeds- Restaurant Feedback App can assist you with the same as you can collect data on Kiosks, iPad & Android Tablets after the customer is done with the meal. If they are unsatisfied and leave a Negative Feedback it will alert you instantly so that you can take necessary action for the same. It also stores all the Negative Feedback in the database for the future in case you need to follow up for the same through Online Surveys on Website and Email to know why the customers haven't returned.

If you have all this data in hand it is easier to segment the lost customers into different categories to target them with different promotional offers or discounts. This systemised segmentation of the lost customers can be done by finding a shared trait or characteristic among the customers and dividing them into various groups according to that.

What are the Mediums to send a Win-back Campaign?



Managing your customer relationships should be one of your priorities. When it comes to sending a win-back campaign, there are three popular mediums you can use:


1. SMS

Win-back Campaigns through SMS should be managed with caution. These SMS can either help to boost your conversion rate and build lifelong customer relations or push the customers to opt out. It’s quick as text messages are easily read due to 160 characters. According to your brand voice, you can choose the tone of your message as irrelevant messages would push customers to withdraw.

Don’t forget to update your employees regarding the win back campaign so that they treat those lost customers with the utmost care and provide them with amazing customer service. You can also use FellaFeeds- Customer Survey App to ask the customers to leave suggestions about how you can improve so that they visit the restaurant more often.


2. Email

Emails are an interesting way to communicate your message to the customers as it is a great medium to be creative in your message and incorporate eye-catching designs to attract the customer’s attention. You could also send a series of 3-4 emails to your targeted customers to attract them with amazing offers.

Email marketing is a cost-effective method so you should make the most out of it. Focus on curating a catchy subject line, writing interesting content with clear information about the offer which will be the center point of the email. You have to make sure that the email is tempting enough for them to give you one another shot. Try to connect with the customer on a personal level and make the email a treat to the eyes. 


3. Push Notifications

This is one of the most advanced and effective ways to fuel customer engagement. Push Notifications are similar to SMS as they are also short and have a character limit. These are like pop-ups or reminders for the customer about a new offer or discount. Push notifications could be sent through the restaurant website or restaurant mobile application. It is one of the many features in a restaurant mobile application which helps to solidify the restaurant's presence in the market and boost sales as well. We have a dedicated article on the Must-Have Features your Restaurant Mobile App Should Have, check it out. 


What Offers to Send in a Win-back Campaign?



Now you will have to tickle your brain and come up with creative ideas to lure in those lost customers. The win-back campaign mainly focuses on reminding customers about your brand and encouraging them to order. 


Evaluating the segmentation of the lost customers we can provide different types of offers to different groups of customers. Customers who left because of high prices on the menu are offered discounts or cashback offers. Customers who left because of unpleasant service could be offered a loyalty program or an update on their current services. Customers who left because of high prices and poor service should be handled more carefully and be offered a discount as well as a service upgrade.


It is important to assess the overall return on investment by offering these discounts and service upgrade as it should not result in a loss on an investment. Let us look at a few ideas to create content relating to win-back campaigns:


1. Update Your Customers 

To spark an interest in your customers you should update them about everything related to your restaurant like a new dish in the menu, opening a new outlet, change in ambience, upcoming offers or anything that is exciting enough. Make it creative and add images, witty one-liners and related memes to make it more relatable.
These updates are a good shot at attracting your lost customers. There’s something new for them to see and if it harmonises with their interest, you might just score an order.


2. Gather Feedback

It is smart to incorporate a customer feedback system. You can collaborate with a Customer Feeback App like FellaFeeds to collect feedback about customer’s experience, staff service, quality and taste of food, ambience etc. to provide you with Real-Time Analysis for decision making. 

This helps in building customer relations as you can follow up with your customers in case of negative feedback and ensure them for an improved service next time this would make the customer believe that you value them in your restaurant.


3. Offer Incentives

We have all been in that place where we buy a couple of extra things because there was an offer on it. We all love offers and it is a weak spot of customers. Therefore it is the best way to attract and win them back. Following are a few examples of the offers you can include:

- Up to 70% discount
- Flat 35% discount
- Double the loyalty points
- BOGO- Buy 1 Get 1

- Happy Hours- Buy 1 Drink, Get Another Free
- Free dessert/ drink on next visit


4. Contests or Giveaways

Contest or giveaways are a great way to increase engagement and create buzz on social media platforms. It is also a cost-effective way in terms of return on investment. Contents and giveaways lead to a high number of responses and engagement while you just have to reward a handful of people. Following are a few examples of the contest ideas:

- Guess the New Dish on the Menu
- Latest TV Series Trivia
- Bollywood/ Hollywood Quiz
- Online Food Charade


How to Set up your Win-back Campaign?


We have segmented our customers, selected a medium and curated a campaign but we still have to set up the plan to action. Before publishing our campaign there are various things we need to keep in mind.


1. Connect with the Customers

Customers are smarter these days and can sense an apathetic campaign from far away. Customers want to feel valued by the restaurant. They don’t want to be treated like a problem a restaurant has to deal with to get the money flowing. It is advised to personalize the campaigns so that the customers are able to connect with it.

Slangs, Witty one-liners, Inspiration from trending memes can hike interest among the customers because these campaigns become more relatable. This also helps to increase customer engagement. 


Following sentences are an example to start your campaign:

- Where have you been, [name]?
- Long time no see?
- Enjoy VIP Experience!

- Today’s Special Prices

- Did we do something to upset you?


Following sentences are an example to offer discounts:

- Your favourite dish is on the discount
- Save 25% on your next order
- BOGO Offer for the entire month

- Dessert free on orders above ₹ 799


2. Call to Action

A Call to Action is important for all the campaigns on all the platforms. It lets the customer take an action if they are interested in what you are offering. Social Media platforms already offer a Call to Action button among which you can select one. In the case of emails, you can hyperlink a visual button that catches attention. If you’re campaigning through SMS then make sure your message interprets what you’re trying to convey and the benefits they will get by clicking on the link.


3. Unsubscribe Button

It is important to interact with your customers but we need to draw a line otherwise it could piss off our customers even more. It is advised to incorporate an Unsubscribe button/link in the campaigns to give your customers a choice if they still want to receive these offers or wish to opt out. This would also help you to focus on the more important and interested customers rather than investing your time in the ones that are never coming back.


How Long Will These Win-Back Customers Stay?


You must be wondering what is the whole point of taking so much stress and building an entire campaign if these customers are going to leave soon afterwards. It would be an absolute waste of energy and money. How can I make sure that they stay?

To answer that I went online and found that researchers have acknowledged that the returning customers stay longer during the second time they come around and turn out to be even more profitable. Other than that it really depends on the customer experience you provide them and how efficient is your staff to build relationships and retain them.


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