What we talk about when we talk about customer engagement

May 7, 2018
Abhinav Kapur

The quest for more orders

When I talk to restaurants, the most common question I get is “can you bring me more orders?” The short answer is yes, Bikky can give you more orders, but not in the way you typically think.

In the hugely competitive restaurant industry, more orders = more revenue, so it’s natural to keep pushing for that. To achieve this, most restaurants either expand their delivery zone, or sign up for more third-party online ordering providers. This definitely gets you more orders, but come with their own set of issues:

  • Reputation. It’s hard to guarantee timely delivery for everyone with a large, spread out zone. Delivery windows for third-party services are static, whether the customer is 10 blocks away or 2 miles away. It’s inevitable you’ll disappoint someone, leading to bad ratings and reviews.
  • Cost. The bigger the zone, the more people you need to cover it properly. And if you’re using a third-party for the delivery itself, you’re still paying a 25-30% fee to get your food to someone that may end up leaving a bad review anyway. This is the worst scenario, since you pay a high price just to service the order, and still end up losing the customer after one experience.

What if I told you though that there’s a better, easier way? That there are customers out there who already love your brand, and can help you grow – instead of simply maintain – your business?

Why engagement matters

In our early days at Bikky, we’ve discovered that repeat customers are 53-76% of a restaurant’s delivery business.

Put another way, more than half of your delivery customers love you enough to keep coming back after their first order.

This is great news! But it also raises a series of questions that you as a business owner should be thinking about:

  • Why do they love my brand?
  • How often do they come back?
  • Can I get them to come back more often?
  • Can I get them to spread the love and bring me more customers?

These questions are the foundation of a sound customer engagement strategy (which is really just a fancy term for simply talking to your customers and caring what they think). It’s also an easy way to satisfy that constant quest for more orders.

Across the restaurant industry, the largest brands are turning to customer engagement to help boost brand awareness and loyalty, including McDonald’s personally responding to 12,000 individual tweets to announce the arrival of All Day Breakfast and Domino’s hosting an “ask me anything” with its Chief Marketing Officer on Facebook.

I know what you’re thinking: these are massive brands with massive resources, so how can you even come close to replicating their strategies?

Luckily, we can look at Amma (an early Bikky customer) as an example of how customer engagement can work for your restaurant, even if you have a fraction of the resources of the big players.

Amma typically does 250-300 deliveries per week, and 60% of its customers over the past 3 months are repeat diners. You can imagine how this typically plays out – a small portion of those 60% order week-in and week-out, but most of them are in a bi-weekly or monthly rotation.
Prior to Bikky, Amma had no idea who their delivery customers were, let alone having a strategy to engage these customers. Anju (the owner) at one point resorted to writing down customer names she recognized in a book, keeping a manual tally of what and how often they ordered.

But now, not only does she have a better understanding of her delivery business, but she’s also free to experiment with how to get the most out of her loyal customers. As an early test, Amma sent >125 loyal diners an SMS-based survey, offering a free mango lassi if they ordered again within 7 days of submitting feedback.

The impact was immediate. Of the 15% of diners who responded, 95% reordered within a week to claim their free lassi. This added an extra 3% in total orders in the week after the campaign and an extra ~$500 in revenue; assuming Amma runs the same (relatively small) campaign twice a month, they’re looking at an extra $1,000 in revenue. Beyond the headline numbers, it also revealed some unique insights about what customers like (or don’t), including suggestions about dishes or overall feedback on the delivery experience.

If you listen, they will come

It does take a certain level of patience, precision, and experimentation to get right, but these types of results could make all the difference between thriving and simply surviving in the hyper-competitive restaurant industry.

If you’re still not convinced by the benefits and are considering if customer engagement is the right strategy, the simplest advice we can offer is this: be brave.

Opening up new, direct lines of communication with your customers will most likely yield unexpected results. You’ll learn a lot about what people love or dislike about your brand, and gain deeper understanding into what resonates with them and why. All of this is part of improving as a business, and fine-tuning your product into something that gradually more and more people will come to love.

At the end of the day, it shows that you care, and that you’re listening. And if you listen, they will come.

At Bikky, we’ve built a suite of tools to help you get started on your path towards better customer engagement. To get started, click here, or give us a call at (347) 946-3002.