8 ways to improve customer retention in your café

April 27, 2023

It’s a bit of a business cliché by now, but for a good reason – it’s more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep your existing customers. 

In fact, it’s up to 7 times more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. That’s why it’s worth investing your time and budget into keeping your customers coming back. 

So how do you improve customer retention in your café? 

1. Open your café in the right location

One of the biggest factors for customers when choosing a café is convenience, especially during the week when your customers rush to grab a coffee cup on their way to work or school. That’s why choosing a convenient location for your café is essential for success.

Customers are more likely to visit a shop when it’s conveniently located. Especially in such a competitive market with cafés and coffee shops on every corner, it’s vital to be strategic about your location. Customers value convenience, so if you can, open your café near office buildings, academic institutions, bus stops, subway stations, or areas with a lot of foot traffic. The same customers will be passing by your shop regularly, and it will be easier to retain their business.

2. Let customers pre-order

Let customers order in advance by opening an online store. Take a note from Starbucks, which offers the option of skipping the line by ordering and paying ahead of time when you join their rewards program. 

With an app or online store for your café, your customers can easily order their favourite drink or snack and come pick it up. The Oliver POS cloud printer makes this even more convenient by printing online orders automatically to your barista or kitchen staff. 

Looking to build an online store for your café? Here’s why you should use WooCommerce.

3. Collect data on what your customers like

To get your customers coming back, you need to know what it is they actually want. It seems like a no-brainer. But too many companies don’t take the time to seek and consider customer feedback. 

Using customer profiles to collect information on your customer’s preferences is essential in getting to know them and giving better service. Not only will you be keeping track of their purchase history, but you can also take notes on their preferences to return to later to help upsell and to give a more personalized experience. 

On top of that, read your online reviews, see what your visitors have to say, or send out email surveys to get their honest feedback. You can even encourage them to fill out surveys or write reviews by offering them a discount the next time they visit your coffee shop. 

4. Create a loyalty program

Incentivize your customers to come back by offering them discounts, birthday deals, or exclusive offers when they sign up for your loyalty program. With WooCommerce Points and Rewards, available in-store with Oliver POS, it lets you create your own points to reward ratio, and purchase to point value, so you can choose the monetary value of your points and the points needed to reach a reward. 

Keep in mind; you’ll need to strike the right balance between too few and too many points for the reward. You want your customers to purchase more, so having too few points might end up losing you profits. Likewise, having too many points will decrease the value for your customers, and they’ll be less incentivized to join your loyalty program. 

5. Deliver excellent customer service

Delivering excellent customer service will play a huge role in keeping your customers loyal. According to this study, 95% of consumers feel that customer service is important when choosing a brand and remaining loyal.

Hire customer-oriented staff who are friendly and inviting, and coach your employees on how to upsell and retain customers – for example, train them to ask every new customer to join your loyalty program without coming across as pushy ( “Would like to join our loyalty program and get 15% percent off your order today?”) It’s great to try to upsell and get more information from your customers, but coming across as pushy or overly scripted can be a big turn off for your visitors. Try to strike the right balance. 

What’s more, when your business drops the ball (it happens to the best of us), don’t hesitate to rectify the situation by offering to take care of their bill or giving them a voucher for a free treat for their next visit. Often, your visitors will forgive bad service, mistakes, or oversights if you offer them something for their trouble. 

6. Keep in touch with your customers

Build a following on social media, so your customers can follow you to get updates on new menu items and special promotions. Post fun, engaging content to entice your customers not only to follow you on social media, but to visit your store. 

Likewise, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to improve customer retention. When you’re getting your customers to sign up for your loyalty program, ask them for their email so they can get in on exclusive deals. 

7. Cater to dietary restrictions

Customers with food allergies or dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerances, nut allergies, or veganism often have difficulty finding coffee shops that suit their needs. Offer a good selection of vegan, gluten-free, or nut-free products, and those customers will come back again and again. 

8. Create a referral program

This is especially true if you cater or host events. While the quality of your service and products will spread through word of mouth, having a referral program where your existing clients can get a discount for referring other businesses and new clients can get a discount for getting referred could be that extra incentive to get more business.

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