Boosting customer loyalty in the digital age

Liam Kelman
June 17, 2024

In today’s competitive restaurant industry, customer loyalty is more crucial than ever, especially as the market shifts increasingly towards online ordering and delivery. With digital platforms becoming the backbone of restaurant operations, fostering repeat business in a virtual environment requires innovative strategies. Enter the Endowed Progress Effect – a psychological principle that can significantly enhance your digital loyalty programs and boost customer retention.

Understanding the Endowed Progress Effect

The Endowed Progress Effect is a phenomenon where people are more motivated to complete a task when they feel they have already made some progress towards it. Imagine being handed a loyalty card with two out of ten stamps already filled. The sense of a head start increases your motivation to complete the card, making the goal seem more achievable.

Research underscores the power of this effect: customers given a loyalty card with a few pre-filled stamps have an 82% higher completion rate compared to those starting from scratch. This sense of initial progress fuels momentum, encouraging customers to return more frequently to achieve their goals.

Applying the Endowed Progress Effect to digital loyalty programs

As restaurants adapt to the digital era, integrating the Endowed Progress Effect into online loyalty programs can significantly enhance customer engagement and retention. Here’s how you can leverage this principle to boost repeat business through your digital platforms:

1. Kickstart with a Bonus

When new customers join your loyalty program, provide them with an immediate sense of progress. This could be in the form of initial points, stamps, or a complimentary reward. For online ordering, offer a discount on their next purchase or a free item as soon as they sign up. This instant gratification not only delights new members but also encourages them to return to your platform.

Example: Offer a 10% discount on the next online order or a free appetizer for new members who register for your digital loyalty program.

2. Celebrate Milestones

Recognizing and rewarding customers at various stages of their loyalty journey keeps them engaged. Use your digital platform to track their progress and offer rewards after specific milestones, such as the fifth online order or the tenth delivery. These small victories provide frequent incentives to continue engaging with your brand.

Example: After every five online orders, offer a special discount or an exclusive menu item available only to loyalty members.

3. Gamify the Experience

Turn your loyalty program into an engaging and interactive experience by introducing game-like elements. Create challenges, levels, or badges that customers can earn through their online activities. Make their progress visible and exciting, which can significantly increase their motivation to continue ordering from your digital platform.

Example: Implement a tiered loyalty system where customers can unlock different levels and rewards based on the number of online orders they place. Offer digital badges for milestones like “5 Orders,” “10 Deliveries,” and “Top Customer.”

4. Personalise Rewards

Tailor your rewards to individual customer preferences to make the loyalty journey as enjoyable as the reward itself. Use data from their online orders to offer personalised incentives that resonate with their tastes and preferences. This personal touch makes customers feel valued and appreciated, further strengthening their connection to your brand.

Example: Analyse a customer’s past orders and offer personalised discounts on their favourite dishes or suggest new items they might like based on their order history.

The digital advantage: Why digital Loyalty programs work

As restaurants embrace digital transformation, online loyalty programs offer unique advantages over traditional methods:

  • Seamless Integration with Online Ordering: Digital loyalty programs can be seamlessly integrated into your online ordering system, making it easy for customers to earn and redeem rewards without any extra steps.
  • Real-Time Engagement: Online platforms allow you to engage with customers in real time, sending instant notifications about their progress and rewards.
  • Data-Driven Personalisation: Digital systems provide valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviours, enabling highly personalised reward experiences.
  • Convenience and Accessibility: Customers can access and manage their loyalty rewards anytime, anywhere, which enhances their overall experience with your brand.


Incorporating the Endowed Progress Effect into your digital loyalty programs can transform casual diners into loyal advocates of your restaurant. By providing an initial boost, celebrating milestones, gamifying the experience, and personalising rewards, you can significantly enhance customer engagement and drive repeat business. As restaurants continue to go digital, leveraging this psychological principle can give you a competitive edge in the crowded online marketplace.

Embrace the digital shift, and let your loyalty programs propel your restaurant to new heights of customer satisfaction and retention.

To explore how Slerp’s Loyalty can help you implement these strategies and enhance your digital customer experience, click here to learn more!

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