Continuing our series discussing restaurants’ effective usage of social media, today we discuss how restaurants can use Twitter to connect with customers who have already sampled your dining experience. We’ve already spoken about attracting new customers via Twitter, but once you get customers through the door it’s even more important that you use all forms of communication, including social media, to engage, connect and ensure they come back.
There are many opportunities for you to connect with your customers using social media. As they tell their friends online about their upcoming dining experience, after the meal when they review their evening, or even while they’re actually dining, the opportunities to connect truly are endless with a little thought and creativity.
You may think the idea of taking bookings via Twitter has the potential for chaos, but plenty businesses use a similar concept. It’s not all that unusual for tech-savvy coffee shops to take orders from their customers via Twitter and have their drink ready for them when they arrive.
By using Twitter like a call-back service, where the customer direct (private) messages you their contact details and date and time of booking, you’re making it easy and simple for a customer to book a table. Breaking down barriers to make it easy for customers is always a good thing, so by taking your order book to them in the places they frequent most such as social media Web sites, you’re going to entice them to book with you for all the right reasons, but also because it’s easier to do so compared to contacting the other Italian down the street who don’t even have a Web site, let alone a Twitter account used to connect with customers.
Once booked, customers will often write social media messages to their friends about an upcoming event which they are looking forward to. By keeping track of the things people are saying, it’s easy to connect with customers before they even arrive at your restaurant.
Look out for those that are writing about their upcoming dining experience and make them an offer. For example, offer a discount or offer free wine if they increase the size of their table by inviting more of their friends on Twitter.
At conferences around the Globe, Twitter feeds are often displayed on large screens showing Tweets from various people talking about the conference. Often, people will write messages just to see their Tweet appear on the screen.
Creating this same interactivity with your customers in your restaurant is easy. All it takes is a PC, a TV screen, and a few tech-savvy customers looking to put a little more fun in to their dining experience. Not only can you show what customers are saying, but also display your own messages. Be as creative as you like; Why not see who is taking note of the messages by offering a ‘secret’ free desert only to those who see the screen? Or offer your best wishes to the birthday girl in the beautiful red dress. However you use it, taking your restaurant from a menu and a plate to a quirky, interactive dining experience for those that wish to embrace it is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Imagine the scenario; John and his wife dine at your restaurant and they have a fantastic time. After an evening of fine food and wine, they head home and settle in for the evening. John opens his Twitter feed on his Blackberry and right there he finds a Tweet from you, the owner of the restaurant, thanking him for his business this evening and offering to personally take care of his next booking should he decide he wants to come back.
This is personal service at its finest, and will instantly plant your restaurant in John’s mind next time he wants to dine out.
Connecting with your customers shouldn’t end when they leave the restaurant. Stay in touch, always. Running a competition is a great way to stay in touch with customers while also promoting your restaurant. Offer a prize for the best 140 character Twitter review, or for the best photo taken of your food while they dine.
However you use Twitter, ensure the person behind your Tweets is you, the owner of the restaurant, as opposed to a marketing company you may have hired. Using social media as a business is about getting closer to your customers and providing a personal touch to the service you provide. This is something only those close to the restaurant can do effectively.