How can you design your customer experience for better results?

You’re in the process of creating your restaurant, and you need to establish your customer experience.

To stand out from your competitors, you need to think about your customer experience for better results. In other words, once you’ve walked through the door of your restaurant, what kind of consumer experience do you want your future customers to enjoy and share?

As soon as they arrive, they need to feel that they’re in for an experience that’s out of their everyday lives. You need to work out every detail of your service’s process to deliver a total consumer experience that will generate higher retention rates and provide a real economic cushion.

What type of customer experience should I implement?

The opening phase of your restaurant is crucial, from the very first month. You won’t get another chance to make a good impression on your customers’ first visit. It’s this same customer who satisfies you by becoming your best ambassador. How many missed openings? But we’ll have the opportunity to develop this subject in greater depth in a future article.

When they arrive, your customers will come into contact with many different elements within your establishment. The question is, what will these elements be? they can come from a variety of sources. We could mean your staff.

Think about your welcome

In a reception strategy you’ve devised, one person would be in contact with your customers as soon as they enter your restaurant. The strategy could include a number of points, such as a company-specific wording for the welcome. The smile leaves a lasting impression. Think of some of the places where you’ve received a warm welcome. You still remember it.

As far as your staff is concerned, we could talk about the interaction your staff will have with your customers. Interaction can be defined at different levels, but we’ll come back to this later.

An attractive shop window

Another point concerning your customer experience is your shop window. The layout of the shop window is often lacking, yet it is one of the very first contacts with your customer. It must be inviting, stimulating and engaging. It’s a selling point of your concept. Just think, even if someone doesn’t come home right away, they’re going to think about it, take a photo and share it, make enquiries when they get home. You can see that this is an important marketing aspect of your communication strategy.

Other points of your experience can be furniture, for example. Its design may appeal to your customer. Put him in the right frame of mind to spend even more at home. It’s a fact that the more serene, comfortable and confident customers are, the more likely they are to increase their average bill.

Investing right from the start

In the age of social networking sites like Instagram, a photo of your furniture could be shared by many people, giving you free publicity. I know that many start-up restaurants want to save money, but a good investment at the outset could pay off even more later on. Another sense that can be linked to furniture is touch.

If your restaurant has table service, your customers will have the reflex to look at the table, the way it’s set up, and even touch the furniture if they find it attractive. Once again, you put your customer in the right frame of mind to have an excellent evening. Your customer’s experience will be closely linked to various interactions that you will have thought through before opening your restaurant.

I could have given examples of other aspects of the experience, but that would have taken too long, and we’ll have the opportunity together to break them down one by one.

How can I set up experiential marketing for my restaurant?

You’ll need to establish your strategies before your restaurant officially opens. The first is to build your customer journey. Your customer experience will be closely linked to the path they take through your establishment. Every detail of your journey will be important, with the ultimate aim of fostering the various interactions you desire. They will have a major influence on customer satisfaction, and will have a major impact on your customer loyalty rate.

What are the most important points to consider for my restaurant to enrich my customer experience?

In the age of social networks and various comment platforms, your restaurant’s reputation will be all the more enhanced. Today, more than ever, news is shared quickly and easily on the web. Good news could be vital for your restaurant. Nothing beats word-of-mouth advertising. A customer who sells a strong, stimulating experience will want to share it with his or her family, colleagues and friends.

You’ll need to focus on every element of your concept that will stimulate your customer. The aim is to leave a lasting impression on the user’s memory when he or she comes into contact with these elements. You’re going to set up your “customer journey”.

Try to personalize your experience as much as possible. It has to become your trademark. Look at the different ways you can do things differently from your competitors, and above all, don’t hesitate to innovate.

Some examples to consider:

Your outdoor menu
Your menu
Your dishes
The invoice
Your furniture
The ambience
The design of the venue
Your website
And much more besides

These are just a few points. The important thing for you is to proceed step by step, breaking down the different phases of your service from the moment you welcome your customers. Once this has been done, concentrate on the aspects you wish to highlight.

The right strategy

You need to set yourself the goal of maximizing your customer base and becoming a reference in your field. Of course, depending on the type of restaurant concept, strategies will need to be adapted accordingly. Customers expect different experiences depending on whether they’re dining in a table service restaurant, food counter, café or other concept. Creating your customer experience means creating emotions. It’s about creating a unique experience that will set you apart from your competitors.

Don’t forget that the best advertising in our business is still word of mouth.

Philippe Bertrand

Founder of the Quebec Restaurant Entrepreneurship Center

  • Master of Restaurant and Hospitality Management
  • Licence Rights-Economy-Management: Creating and taking over a restaurant

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