“Would you like a copy of your receipt?” 

Asking this question is one of the biggest mistakes that a restaurant can make. By allowing customers to opt-out of a receipt, businesses hurt their bottom line. How? By opting out of receiving a receipt, customers are also opting out of future communication with your restaurant.

Back when receipts could only be printed, giving customers the choice to decline a receipt was a way to save money and be more environmentally-conscious. Luckily, modern options to text or email receipts have helped address these issues. Nowadays, the only thing restaurants should be asking customers when it comes to receipts is for their preferred method of delivery. This is because, when optimized properly, receipts can serve as cost-effective tools for building customer loyalty and communications.

First, receipts can be used by restaurants to generate customer contacts. When customers opt into digital or text receipts, restaurants can save the contact information provided and for use with customer satisfaction surveys and promotions down the road. Restaurants can also use customers’ digital contact information to share links to their website or social media accounts

Even when customers opt for a paper receipt, restaurants can still find a way to use the opportunity for surveys, promotions, and marketing materials. Many POS systems allow restaurants to customize their printed receipts to best fit their unique business needs. For example, instead of texting or emailing customers the link to a social media account, a restaurant can print a QR code on its receipts that link customers to the same webpage.

Restaurants can also use receipts as a means of conducting customer satisfaction surveys in real-time. For example, many restaurants offer some sort of rating scale within their digital receipts. This can be as simple as providing “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” rating buttons, or as complex as providing customers with a Likert scale that they can use to rate their experience.

Printed receipts can also be used to conduct customer satisfaction surveys. One method is to provide a scale printed at the bottom of the receipt, which customers can physically mark to show their level of satisfaction (e.g. “How was your experience on a scale of 1 to 10? Please circle your response.”) Another option, which allows for easier data collection, is to print receipts including a QR code that links to an online customer satisfaction survey.

Perhaps the most valuable use of receipts, however, is a cost-effective method for building customer loyalty programs. Upon opting for a digital copy of their receipt, for example, customers may be prompted to enroll in a restaurant’s rewards or loyalty program using their already-submitted contact information. Or, using your point of sales equipment, you can provide those opting for a paper receipt with the opportunity to share their contact information.