With years of experience in the Restaurant Tech Industry, Frank Caron joined us for a chat this week to shed some light on the future of things, from an insider perspective. Frank’s decorated past includes work in app and web development centred around the quick service food and restaurant industries. However, he also has a firm handle on the realities of the restaurant and bar industry and holds the belief that customers come to these locations for the primary reasons of having human conversation and experiencing hospitable service. So just how far will technology take this industry? These 3 principles will guide the way in shaping the future of quick service food, bars, and restaurants, and the ways in which technology impacts this industry.
1. Clear and Immediate Value Added
Getting customers to interface with an iPad in your store, download your coffee app, or input their email and subscribe to your newsletter has a lot to do with ‘what’s in it for them’. This starts by providing that initial reward–> 20% your first order with our app, 5 coffees and the 6th is free, half price drink app promo code, etc. From there, the customer is in.. and this is the easy part. How do you keep them engaging with the platform? How do you keep them from deleting that app? Unsubscribing from your newsletter? Avoiding your platform? This is where gamification can be very powerful.
Your goal as a restaurant owner should be to encourage your customers to engage with your brand even while they’re not physical in your shop. This might include encouraging beautiful Instagram posts by hosting weekly competitions for prizes or the opportunity to be featured/ re-posted (take Sweet Jesus as a textbook example of this). This might include encouraging customers to book a table through your app to receive 15% off their meal of 4 people or more. This might include a ‘2-for-1 Mate Date’ promotion advertised strictly through your app. I could go on. The important thing to remember is that there is no ‘one size fits all’. Executing a gamified and engaging technology platform to drive traffic and increase sales starts by first understanding your goals as an owner.
Will you benefit from increased social media presence? Will you benefit from digitizing the process of table bookings? Do you want more feet through the door? Do you want to drive higher ticketed purchases from an existing customer base.
3. Reducing Barrier to Entry: Placing Tech on the Back Burner
As a tech guy, surprisingly Frank shed some fascinating non-tech centric thoughts on the core values behind food, drink, and restauranting. Encouraging customers to interface heavily and directly with technology might work in the context of very quick service food and coffee, as these environments are faster paced and less experiential. However, any successful technology platform needs to jive and flow well with the existing atmosphere, baristas/ bartenders/ staff, company culture, identity, and location-specific experience. Simply throwing an iPad at the front door, or putting up some signage to encourage customers to download your app can act as a barrier to entry. Customers likely value the genuine human interaction and good vibes they get from being in your shop, and integrating a technology platform into this existing fabric is possible and highly rewarding.
When you think of a loyalty platform, what comes to mind? Is it a custom-branded app? Is it a stamp card? Maybe somewhere in between?…
Each loyalty program caters to a different customer group, and therefore best fits a different type of business. When considering what platform might be the best fit for your business, the main criteria to consider is the following…
Who is your customer demographic
Are they students? Young working professionals? Parents with kids?
How often do they like to interface with their screens?
What do they value about your business… The price? The quality? The atmosphere?
What is your location
Are you located in an urban core? Are you outside of the city? Are you rural?
Do you have direct competition in your neighbours?
What is the ticket price on your product/ service?
Do you cater upmarket or to the average consumer?
Do you match competitor pricing?
Asking yourself the above questions will help you map your business and customer base. With that in mind, let’s talk about the various loyalty platform options!
1. Marketplace App
A marketplace app such as FiveStars, Belly, or Vicinity is like sticking your business in a digital ‘mall’, rather than being a street-front boutique. While it definitely increases eyes on your business, it also increases competition. More customers can discover your business, promotions you might have running, etc.! Customers are able to leverage marketplace apps to then hunt for the best rewards and deals, and make purchase decisions based on this. While this may not be driving loyalty, it is definitely a viable way to drive new traffic for a relatively low cost.
2. Your Own Custom-Branded App
This is your business’ very own personalized loyalty app, and is one of the various solutions offered by ReUp! With a custom-branded app, your business and your customer loyalty comes first. A custom-branded app is popularized by your existing customer base. Maybe someone in line sees the person in front of them interfacing with the Bob’s Coffee App and decides to also download it. Maybe in-store signage, offers, and rewards prompts customers to download the app. While this solution doesn’t focus on driving new traffic, it works to solidify an existing customer base. A custom app encourages customers to stay longer, spend more, and maintain their loyalty to your awesome business!
3. Non-App Loyalty
This solution is ideal for businesses in more rural areas that might be serving a customer-base of a less tech-savy demographic. The semi-tech solution offers rewards for customers opting to input their phone number or email into a database. The customer can receive a confirmation message, and subsequent messages reminding them when there might be an in-store offer, or when they may qualify for a reward. The customer’s spending habits can be tracked and linked to their profile. A loyalty stamp cards can be easily lost, thrown away, or turned down based on low wallet real-estate. This solution is basically a digital stamp card!
4. Self-Serve Loyalty
Self-serve loyalty allows customers to opt-in to a loyalty platform on their own terms. This might be through a phone or tablet located in-store. The solution operates on similar terms as above– with exclusive rewards and promotions offered to customers who input their email or phone number. It doesn’t require the downloading of an app, and is therefore catered to a less tech-savy customer demographic. Businesses can leverage the inputting of (specifically) email addresses by sending out a weekly or monthly blog or newsletter!
5. Physical Card (hybrid gift and loyalty card)
This solution is great for full-service restaurants. The customer base in this situation is not likely to be coming in daily. Instead, loyal customers may be coming in once a week or a few times per month. Offering a ‘smart’ gift/loyalty card allows customers to receive exclusive offers once loading money onto their card. It is able to track spending habits and retrieve data associated with each individual customer profile, and offer rewards and promotions based on this data.
So there you have it! The 5 main customer loyalty platforms, who they serve, and how you as a business owner might be able to leverage their diverse range of benefits. When it comes to loyalty programs, remember to consider the good, the bad, the why, the how, and the who. Stay tuned for more on this!
Yesterday’s enlightening conversation with ReUp Co-Founder Asim Shahjahan, left me questioning everything I ever learned about customer service from my teenage years of working at the mall.
Asim and Co-Founder/ CTO Kelsey Regan started ReUp three and a half years ago. The idea spun out of an identified market need coupled with a joint passion for emerging tech. Big companies like Starbucks and Freshii had already rolled out their mobile apps, and the shocking numbers indicating high customer opt-in and increased revenue were beginning to surface. But, what about the little guys? Back in 2014, the little coffee shop at the end of your road was still encouraging customers to stuff a “buy 9, get the 10th free” loyalty card into their wallets. “We started thinking to ourselves how we could get a digital customer loyalty and engagement platform into the hands of small and medium-sized business owners…”
ReUp facilitates business owners to further understand and engage with their clients. Long gone are the days of marketing gurus sitting at a round table asking the question “Alright, who is our customer?” Digital platforms now make it possible to aggregate and analyze data, further developing accurate customer profiles. Where previously it may have only been possible to have solid customer relationships between the shop owner and the regulars, the ReUp platforms offers an ability to give the much desired VIP treatment to all customers.
Asim has seen some drastic changes in customer and business relationships in the three years since launching ReUp. “The Starbucks mobile app has paved the way, revolutionizing the game of customer loyalty.” As he dives into specifics about customer interfacing and ingestion points, the revolution becomes clear…
We’ve always been bombarded by marketing, ads, and companies trying to sway and entice us. Now, these companies transcend their spots on billboards and monitors, and enter the palms of our hands. Technology has allowed consumerism to go mobile and to get personal. From the moment a customer walks into your store, you as a business owner have the opportunity to gain their loyalty and acquire their long-standing business.
ReUp first hones in on what Asim calls ingestion points. This involves removing barriers by providing several different opportunities for customers to opt-in to your loyalty platform. Maybe they are prompted to receive free WiFi via an SMS code. Maybe they have the opportunity to subscribe to rewards and promotions by inputting their email into an iPad at the front counter. Or maybe, they are encouraged to download the shop’s mobile app. Multiple ingestion points are a key step in allowing customers to become acquainted with your loyalty platform, see how it can directly benefit them, and make the key decision to opt-in.
Beyond the ingestion point is data collection and analytics. Here, ReUp is working to use data such as age, demographic, and spending habits to build information models. This all feeds back into the business owner’s clarity of who their customers are, what their customers want, what their customers don’t want, and how to better serve, grow, and engage with their clientele. In this case, it’s not just the squeaky wheels that get the grease. “The regular that always requests more bacon in their sandwich, or that asks for a hazelnut shot in their espresso.. those are the customers that business owners know well, and tend to serve directly to. Now, every customer has a profile. Even the quiet regular that comes in with their head down for their daily latte. Everyone is important and served as a VIP.” ReUp equips even the smallest mom & pop shop to make important business decisions with evidence, clarity, and mitigated risks.
The ReUp platform provides various solutions towards digital loyalty. Asim and his team have their fingers on the pulse of customer loyalty and the rapidly shifting and continuingly colliding worlds of technology and consumerism. While multi-million dollar Starbucks may have paved the way so far, ReUp is putting these same digital tools and creative strategies in the hands of business owners everywhere!
Phones are a big part of our day-to-day life. When you think about all the things they do for you, you likely wonder what they could do for your business. One of the strongest trends in the mobile world is app ordering for quick service restaurants. Here’s why.
This new service allows businesses to maximize the number of transaction they process, especially during their peak hours. Mobile order ahead also increases foot traffic and customer loyalty by adding a ‘sticky factor’ and competitive edge. Customers love to order remotely and skip the line on a busy day.
Companies like Starbucks and Taco Bell are well aware of these benefits and are already using them to significantly boost sales.
Compared to in-store purchases, Taco Bell’s mobile order ahead transaction sizes average about 30% higher. Customers were so eager for this service, that on the first day of Taco Bell’s app launch, 75% of all locations processed mobile orders.
Starbucks’ app has achieved similar success and is typically viewed as the gold standard. Currently, 10% of transactions at their high-volume locations are processed via the app. Their mobile payment volume has also been growing an impressive 10% per quarter. This shows that customers are not just open to mobile app payments, they are hungry for it!
At the core of this phenomenon, we find customers are looking for convenience AND are willing to pay for it!
Do you want to increase your customer’s convenience by combining loyalty and ordering? Contact your customer service rep for more info!
One of the easiest ways to win new customers is through people they trust. 77% of customers are likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends. 42% of customers are loyal to brands their family and friends buy from. Companies like Uber and Groupon owe their success to these concepts, proving that referral codes can be the lifeblood of your business.
Referrals work by providing an incentive that is attractive to the current customer and the one being referred. An incentive will get a current customer more likely to recommend a product or service. It will also reduce the new customer’s uncertainty of the product or service and make them more likely to choose you over a competitor.
It may seem costly at first, but winning new customers pays for itself above and beyond any referral bonus. Think about how much a customer is worth to you over their lifetime. Now, is it worth giving away a free product or a $10 voucher to capture that value? Chances are the answer is yes!
Now you know how to structure referral rewards, but do you know how to promote them? For ideas, contact your customer success rep to schedule a free one-on-one.