Del Taco: Building Customer Loyalty with Respect

Business Week has a great article on the approach of Del Taco to customer loyalty. Sometimes building customer loyalty is a simple of affair of getting some basics right :

Del Taco has become the second largest Mexican fast-food chain in the U.S., behind Taco Bell (YUM). How did it manage this? Walk into almost any Del Taco restaurant and you’ll find a counter card promoting the chain’s new shakes (it also offers burgers and fries, in addition to tacos, burritos, and quesadillas). On the back of the card, visible to employees, is a reminder to smile and make eye contact with customers. The card is one example of the simple tools Del Taco President Shirlene Lopez uses to build customer loyalty.

Don’t miss the little things. Effective communication skills played a prominent role in Lopez’s career advancement and she sees such skills as crucial in the way Del Taco builds customer loyalty. “I learned at an early age that customers respond differently based on how you communicate with them. How you greet them and thank them makes all the difference in the world,”

Respect your employees and customers. Respect is a theme for Lopez. It extends to how she believes employees should treat customers as well as how employees should be treated by management. And she thinks eye contact and body language are necessary to convey respect.

Turn transactions into interactions. Lopez believes there is a difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer who returns to the same restaurant more than once a week—and tells people about it. According to Lopez, moving beyond merely “satisfied” customers to creating loyal ones is crucial in tough economic times when customers have fewer dollars to spend.


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At Cequity, we believe customer intelligence will be the biggest competitive advantage enterprises will have in the next decade or two. Successful enterprises of tomorrow will be the ones who can organize and leverage this information at speed to optimize their marketing performance, increase accountability, improve profit and deliver growth. Cequity insights will bring to you trends and insights in this area and it’s our way of sharing best practices so as to help you accelerate this culture and thinking in your organization.
July 2008
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