Restaurant consumers have made a statement. They want tailored, personalized experiences and they’re willing to take their business elsewhere if a restaurant can’t deliver.

Research shows more than half (51%) of consumers are willing to switch to a competitor just for a chance at a better experience. So what do today’s savvy consumers want? They want customized service, the ability to interact with merchants on multiple channels, and the opportunity to provide feedback that’s actually listened to, according to a global survey conducted by Accenture.

How can merchants meet these demands? The answer: customer engagement.

By engaging customers, merchants connect with consumers on a meaningful level. Customers don’t want to feel like a faceless buyer, they want you to know who they are, what they buy, and why. By doing so, you’ll create a loyal customer base, grow your revenue, and have a competitive edge that puts you ahead of others in the offline market.

To get a closer look at how customer engagement can help your business, Thanx, a customer engagement and marketing automation platform for offline businesses, explains how it works using the five pillars that make customer engagement a strong tactic for growing businesses.

The concept of “understanding customers” has become a marketing buzzword, but what do you really know about the consumers who visit your operation? Customer engagement helps you understand who your customers are by capturing valuable data that gives you a complete 360-degree view of each visitor. You’ll go from unknown, anonymous customers to a detailed picture of who they are and how they behave.

Every merchant wants hordes of loyal customers. Why? Loyal customers hold a lot of power and have the ability to impact your bottom line. Here’s a look at just how important loyal customers are:

Loyal customers are willing to promote your business and spend at least 21% more each year, are 8% less likely to churn, and account for 80-90% of all referrals.
A loyal customer who “adores” your brand is more than 11 times as likely to buy more, 17 times as likely to recommend the company, 9 times as likely to try new offerings, 6 times as likely to forgive the company if it makes a mistake, and 10 times as likely to trust the company.
Given their importance, it’s easy to see why merchants are working hard to convert customers into loyal ones, but how? By reaching out to customers and engaging them, you build a relationship that lasts. Armed with customer data, you can create personalized campaigns that retain loyal customers.

What kind of campaigns keep customers coming back? Relevant ones. When a cappuccino connoisseur gets an offer to upgrade his drink, he’ll do it. When a lunch lover gets a promo for a free dessert, she’ll redeem it and often spend more just to do so.

Personalized, relevant campaigns are key. Research shows nearly 80% of consumers are only willing to engage with promotions that are personalized to reflect previous interactions with a company. A powerful customer engagement platform can segment customers for you based on their attributes. From there, you can create and send hyper-targeted messages to the right person at the right time and on their preferred channel of communication. From messages about a new location to incentives to new products — you name it, you can send email, text, or push notification right from your customer engagement platform.

Sending personalized messages and offers to customers can sound hard and time-consuming but the good news is it’s not. With automated campaigns you can set up loyalty rewards for your VIP customers, or automate customer birthday rewards. You can even win-back customers who were visiting regularly but then seemed to stop. When a customer’s purchase frequency slows, an automated “We Miss You” campaign can be sent.

Pacific Catch, a West Coast fish house, used automated win-back campaigns with great success. The restaurant won back 2,000 customers and generated $180,000 in incremental revenue from these campaigns alone.

You can also use personalized campaigns to change customer behavior. Let’s say you want to drive more weekend traffic to your bakery, but most customers stop in during the weekdays. How do you encourage them to come in for your Saturday brunch? Consider a “day shift” offer, which encourages customers to shift their usual visit to a different day.

Elephants Delicatessen, a delicatessen and catering company in Portland, sent its weekday customers a 20% off coupon for their weekend brunch and saw amazing results. The “day shift” promotion resulted in a 43% increase in month over month weekend traffic

How do your customers feel about your menu or service? Are they happy? Do they plan to return? What could you do better? To create a business that caters to customers, you need to ask them what they think. Sounds straightforward, right? However, some merchants don’t actively seek feedback from customers. You need honest feedback that you can use to improve your business. Imagine asking customers one question after every purchase: “How likely are you to refer our business to family or friends?” This question, known as Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is an instant gauge of customer satisfaction. A customer engagement platform can automatically send this question to customers after every purchase. And businesses can respond to the feedback they receive, personally, in real-time. The simple act of replying to feedback grows sales by 22%.

How do you currently measure your customer engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction? Some merchants simply can’t or don’t, but many turn to analytics provided by a patchwork of marketing tools. They sift through open and click rates from their email service provider or try to manually piece together metrics from a variety of sources that all measure things differently. It’s a time-consuming, cumbersome, unreliable process.

With a customer engagement platform, you get real metrics — metrics that measure your marketing impact in terms of what really matters — revenue. Vanity metrics like opens and clicks don’t tell you what you really want to know. You want to know how much money you made as a result of a message or offer you sent to your VIPs, or the profits generated from a well-timed push notification to lunch-goers.

These customer engagement metrics provide merchants with real-time decision-making data. 80% of companies that rely on customer analytics make decisions faster, according to a report from KPMG, and believe their decisions are not only more accurate but less risky. And these benefits are all a result of hyper-personalized customer engagement.