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  • Writer's pictureMaya

Five tips to turn holiday shoppers into loyal customers

Holiday seasons have historically offered a critical opportunity for building customer loyalty. In an average year, restaurants can reach out to new customers with promotions and incentives and do their best to hang on to them after the season closes. This year has been better than the past few years and there is good news: the consumer confidence index remains higher than throughout 2022.

That means you can still attract and retain new customers, and your number one goal should be converting these customers into regulars or, better yet, VIPs.

Building customer loyalty is not accomplished with just one exclusive discount. In fact, it is better to show you care in many small, simple ways rather than one grand gesture. So, where should a busy business owner start? Here are five quick tips to motivate those first-time holiday diners to make a return visit.

1. Learn to entertain and engage customers.

If you create a worthwhile, truly unique experience for first-time diners, they are much more likely to revisit your restaurant in the future, whether in person or online. Gain an edge over large retailers by enriching your customer interactions—host interactive virtual experiences, offer online promotions, or provide expert advice for the best use of your products or services. It is important that we offer these entertaining experiences all year round, not just during the holidays.

2. Know how to follow up and follow through

Developing relationships with your customers is very similar to gardening. For them to thrive, you need to sprinkle some care and affection. Even during challenging times, consumer spending is expected to surge during the holiday season.

Think with Google reports that Q4 2020 saw a "seismic shift in consumer shopping behavior," with a massive increase in e-commerce. The growth rate of retail searches was over three times that in Q4 of 2020. The shift to digital commerce is widely expected to continue through 2025 and is likely for the long term.

To hold onto the high-spending customers:

1. Use Rewards to nurture customer loyalty and satisfaction after their initial engagement with your business.

2. Enroll first-time customers in Clover Rewards and delight them with a discount or exclusive offer sent via email or text a few days after their initial visit.

3. Tout your ability to accept contactless payment in your messaging, a convenience many customers appreciate and have come to expect.

3. Make the extra mile.

Sending a personalized email thanking new customers for their business is a small gesture that can significantly impact wooing them back. The same goes for their birthday and holidays. Send a note with a discount that can be redeemed during the recipient's birthday month and another during the holiday season with a private deal, gift with purchase, tiered discount offer, or even an exclusive item available only to those on the mailing list. Make use of the eatOS reporting and analytics feature that gives you real-time insights with information on different data points enabling cost savings, increasing efficiency, improving business and customer experience.

4. Get personal

Customers who join your loyalty program via Rewards trust you with their contact information. Treat them in kind by offering yours. Staffs should present a business card with a phone number and available hours.

As a business owner, share your contact information in your initial email mailing and invite your customers to contact you whenever they need assistance or have questions. Diners appreciate business owners who make themselves personally available (as opposed to big-box retailers run by faceless, nameless entities that are hard to reach).

It is also advisable to ask customers to share their "wish list" items. Use these ideas to expand your offerings, then reach out once you have them in your menu.

5. Be the expert

Forbes has written about the importance of brand expertise over online reviews. But do not rely on customers asking for advice to demonstrate your prowess. Develop creative ways to proactively steer shoppers to specific items in-store or online, including sections labelled Staff Picks, Customer Favorites, or Product of the Day/Week/Month.

Here is more.

6. Share more than what you sell.

Savvy business owners use email marketing to do much more than promote their products. To build upon initial customer interactions, create and share helpful, engaging content in your holiday marketing. For example, write a short post about a recent health study involving nutrition if you sell gourmet food items or link to recipes that utilize ingredients you sell.

7. Make sure to exceed their expectations.

It is suggested to use Promos to send high-value, real-time promotions via email, text, or social media to VIP customers and those you hope to reel in for subsequent business. (You can track success in real time and tweak future promotions accordingly if redemption rates are lower than you'd like.)

Another good way to go above and beyond is with your commitment to safety. Restrictions have eased in different parts of the country, but many people are still concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Be sure to have hand sanitizer available at the entry and register, and consider things like branded masks on hand for unprepared diners. The small price you will pay for these gestures may be repaid in total—and then some—in customer loyalty for weeks, months, and years to come.

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