If your customers can’t come to you for a dine-in experience, then it’s time to go to them with text messaging. For immediate customer engagement many restaurant owners are utilizing restaurant texting services for takeout, to-go orders and text blasts. What makes text messaging so effective?
Customers text all the time. So much so that 98% of their text messages get read immediately. Some case studies even show that 67% of customers would rather text than call or email a business.
Additionally, 74% of customers will respond to a text message from a business within an hour. These insights show that text messaging can be one of the most engaging ways to reach your customers.
Curious about what makes a good restaurant texting system? We have some thoughts. Here’s a guide for restaurant owners, managers, operators, and anyone else who wants to text their customers.
Texting customers from your personal phone isn’t necessarily bad. However, it does pressent some challenges and it opens you up to some liability. The biggest problems are organizing customers into groups, scheduling messages and sending a text to all customers.
Additionally, consider what happens when employees text customers from their personal phones. There’s no oversight in these situations. You have no way to track who responded or fulfilled an order related to a text message.
Burner phones fall into this category as well. Buying a burner phone for the short-term solves some of these issues, but not all. Ultimately, your restaurant will need more advanced functionality and features to text effectively with customers.
What you need is a dedicated restaurant text messaging system that works from any device, including desktop.
|Personal Phone||Burner Phone||Text Messaging System|
|Local 10-Digit Phone Number||yes||yes||yes|
|Text Message Templates||no||no||yes|
|Bulk Text Message Blasts||no||no||yes|
|Text Message Scheduling||no||no||yes|
Introducing new technology into an established restaurant can be hard. Especially when your team is reluctant to give it a try. However, there are some compelling reasons to start using a text messaging app for restaurants.
If you’re a small business, no doubt you started out with a landline or even a personal cell phone number. This becomes a bit of a problem if you start texting customers.
What you need in this situation is a texting app that allows you to either forward calls to an existing number, or text enable your existing landline. With call forwarding, if someone calls your new text-enabled phone number, that call will get routed to an existing phone number that’s voice-enabled.
Call forwarding is typically an easier and more cost-effective solution. Other text messaging apps let you text enable your current number or integrate VoIP and voice-to-text features. Keep in mind, these features often come at a premium.
You already do everything in your restaurant and you’ve probably only got one phone line. What happens if a customer calls in and you’re already on the phone? What you need is a text messaging number that has a local area code. It’s a 10-digit number that looks like this: (775) 313-9465.
This number becomes your centralized text messaging number that customers can text into and staff can respond from. Text ordering for restaurants works well if multiple employees can see all conversations. This keeps orders from slipping through the cracks. It also ensures that customer needs get addressed in a timely manner.
Texting from a 10-digit phone number with a local area code is best. It gives your customer a real-world, reputable, number that they feel comfortable responding to. This is way better than short code text messaging.
It lets them know that the message they’re reading just came from a real person. Restaurants that send from local 10-digit numbers almost always get better responses and text message open rates.
Organizing your customers and potential customers into groups and lists is essential. Good restaurant text messaging platforms allow you to create all kinds of groups and segment between customers.
An example would be, “create a group of customers who placed an order within the last month.” Another example is, “create a group of customers who haven’t placed an order in six months.”
Suggested Article: The Guide to Selecting a Group Text App
Many customers are used to getting SMS text messages on their mobile apps on their phones. But if you’re looking at text messaging services for your restaurant, you’ll need a way to text from your desktop or tablet as well.
It is possible to text from a desktop. However, having an all-in-one solution saves time and increases efficiency for you and your staff. Keep in mind that many restaurant texting apps are only for desktop.
You’ll need to make sure your text ordering service offers mobile support. You and your staff will need access to the same features. The experience should be the same on mobile as on desktop and visa-versa.
Saving text messages that you send all the time is a time-saving power move. This is an advanced feature that not all texting apps utilize.
Good restaurant messaging apps allow you to save templates like, “Thank you, your order has been received”. Or, “Thanks for your business! We’d love it if you could rate your experience.”
Messaging apps that do allow you to compose and save text messages that feel personalized are best for productivity and efficiency. Templates allow you to deliver a personalized experience at scale to your entire customer list.
Not every restaurant text messaging app has text message scheduling functionality. Scheduling features can also vary between messaging apps. Regardless, the main benefit of text message scheduling is time-savings.
With the right app you can schedule a text message to go out at a set time to your entire customer list. This works well if you offer mobile coupons or some sort of other special offer.
Keep in mind that some apps only give you select date/time intervals to schedule from. You’ll need a text messaging app that allows you to set the date and time delivery of a text message relative to your timezone.
Suggested Article: Guide to Scheduling Text Messages
Opt-in and opt-out or TCPA compliance is important and often overlooked. This is especially true when it comes to your restaurant’s SMS marketing efforts.
Text messaging spam is regulated under the Telephone and Consumer Protection ACT (TCPA). Your restaurant needs to make sure it has the right level of consent. This is required before texting customers or contacts on your subscriber list. If your restaurant wants to send promotional SMS messages, then you have to think about consent for marketing purposes.
This means that for all promotional messages, you’ll need “express written consent” before you text. Additionally, the best text messaging apps will help you handle opt-out and a do-not-contact list. These features keep a dynamic list of customers who have opted out.
Typically the first text a customer ever receives from a text message marketing app is for opt-out. This message states how to opt-out of future messages by texting “STOP” and that messaging and data rates may apply. These are all built-in anti spam features that clearly explain the terms. This saves you from texting customers who have already said they don’t want to receive a text message
Suggested Article: The Small Business TCPA Compliance Checklist and Guide
Depending on your needs integrations may actually be super important. We live in an age where many restaurant systems can talk to each other. However, not all apps or platforms have integrations that can support this.
If your business uses Square POS, you may want a business text messaging app that integrates natively. For others, having other integrations might be important. Regardless, check out the ways an app integrates first before actually deploying it.