Featured image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay
You probably have a favorite local spot. Maybe it’s a coffee shop or a quick counter-service lunch staple. Perhaps it’s a go-to place for a weeknight dinner when cooking sounds exhausting. No matter where you’re a regular, though, there’s something this business has built with you: customer trust.
Businesses thrive on consistency and building relationships, but for restaurants, it’s an absolute imperative. It’s no exaggeration to say that there may be no industry more founded on the principle of bonding with its guests. If you’re putting roots down with a new local business, you need to build that trust.
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With that in mind, we’ve put together a short list of tips for laying the groundwork for building customer trust.
Start Building Customer Trust by Setting Expectations
In the era of the internet, guests can be persuaded or put off before even setting foot in your doors if they don’t know what they’re walking into.
Many guests don’t just want to know what kind of restaurant they’re walking into. They want to know price points and menu items. They even want to be tantalized by ingredient choices. The easiest way to combat this is by making the center point of your website a polished online menu.
Use your web platform to incorporate a digital version of your menu. Make sure it keeps your branding consistent, displays price points clearly, and puts everything you have to offer on display. Then, with your menu out in the world, your guests will know what to expect. You will thereby be starting to build customer trust. From there, word of mouth will carry you forward.
Nobody likes bad reviews on the internet, whether they’re on Yelp, Facebook, or Google. But if you’re looking to build customer trust, don’t let them discourage you. Instead, let them show the world you care by responding to negative reviews!
Reach out and tell guests with legitimate complaints about bad experiences to get in touch with your business and ask them to give you a second chance. Whether this looks like a gift card, a free cup of coffee, or a free lunch, showing people you care lends credibility to your business and builds customer trust like nothing else.
A word of caution: There will always be people who complain unreasonably or look to take advantage of your willingness to make things right. But your regulars aren’t fools, and neither are you. It’s not hard to read when these claims are disingenuous or made in bad faith.
There’s no call to be a pushover, but taking that first step will only improve your reputation and build customer trust in the eyes of your regulars.
Start a Loyalty Program to Build Customer Trust
Everybody likes a free lunch! Or free coffee. Or even a free appetizer. Everyone is also familiar with the classic system of using punch and stamp cards. After ten (or however many) purchases, the next one is free.
Find a printer that can use your branding to create loyalty cards and hand them out with every purchase. This method is a well-established way to build customer trust. National chains like Subway, Starbucks, and countless others use variations on this idea. But folks get even more excited to stick with their hometown favorites.
Start an Email List for Your Loyal Fans
If you’re looking to add to regular business and build customer trust, make the first move and start an email list. Offer your guests the chance to provide an email to be added to a list for promotions or event news.
If you’re using a POS system like Square to assemble your email list, you can integrate this into a digital loyalty program. Then send out text message blasts containing links to ticket sale platforms like Eventbrite for special dinners or music nights at your business.
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Give Your Business a Name and Face
At the end of the day, there’s nothing that inspires loyalty and customer trust more than showing up in front of your guests. It might seem like a no-brainer, but do table touches during service. Take a cashier shift. Ask your guests if they like what they’re buying. Introduce yourself, and show them that you’re around if they need to talk to someone.
Building this very personal bridge between the customer base and your business reminds them that you care about what you’re doing and whether they’re enjoying it. If you show your guests that you care about their experience in a genuine way, you’re not just building your business. You’re planting roots in your community. There’s no stronger way to build trust in your guests than that.
Don’t hesitate to ask your staff about the folks in the building or who show up every day, and then make a point of learning names and faces. Making genuine connections is one of the oldest and most honest ways to help your business grow, and if you want to become a local favorite, being genuine is how you earn it.
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