On Demand at Restaurant Next: Improving the Guest and Franchisee Experience

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On Demand at Restaurant Next: Improving the Guest and Franchisee Experience

By Anna Wolfe, Senior Editor - Restaurants - 10/27/2020
CEO Laura Rea Dickey explains how the famed barbecue brand has leveraged analytics to identify friction points in the customer journey and then used its in-house tech team to quash those obstacles.

In a 15-minute Restaurant Next Firechat that’s available on demand through Nov. 10, Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, explains how this famed barbecue brand has leveraged analytics to identify friction points in the customer journey and then used its in-house tech team to quash those obstacles, reducing checkout times, increasing spend and improving customer – and franchisee -- satisfaction along the way.

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Pre-pandemic if you will, we were doing about 26% of our business online through Dickeys.com, some third-party ordering and catering,” explains Dickey. “…When all our dining rooms were closed down, we were doing well over 90% in direct online business at Dickeys.com and third-party sites.” About 9% were call in-orders.

In this Restaurant Next exclusive, Dickey shares how the brand has improved the customer service experience – for both guests and for franchisees.

“What has helped us be successful is that customer service experience -- both in person in our dining rooms and online,” she says.

Being guest centric, Dickey’s enhanced the design of the website and its online shopping cart.

Thanks to analytics, the restaurant brand could see where the friction points were in the customer journey. On the backend, there were a lot of separate analytics where Dickey’s could see where people were spending a lot of time, where they were abandoning the cart, and what needed to be improved.

“That is always something we focus on is the user experience,” she says.  “How can we continually optimize page loading times, design, ease of use.”

Plus, to help customers get immediate answers to commonly asked questions, Dickey’s added a chatbot to its site.

Franchisees and their dashboard also received improvements.

“We took that customer service experience from design UI and integrated it into the backend dashboard, which actually enabled our owner operators to load and use it faster, to make updates faster and that really effects the CS piece – where you can communicate to guests really seamlessly what you’re sold out of, how to feature instore items -- to mimic the instore experience as much as you can.”

Improvements in Data Aggregation

Integrating orders from third-party delivery sites into the Dickey’s dashboard is “incredibly important” for franchisees who are on a variety of POS systems.

“We knew that was one of those pieces to the puzzle for us from a technology standpoint. And what I found is the most important thing is to bring as much parity as you can to the technology experience amid franchises.” It makes training, upgrading and troubleshooting easier.

That disparity (lack of 3PD order integration) “was a huge challenge for us,” Dickey admits. “To pull all that data into seamlessly into Smokestack and into our data platform, we really had to find that reporting answer.”

It was also a pain point for operators – juggling all those tablets, printers etc., she added.   

“For us we are pulling data in every 15 minutes into Smokestack; it was a huge gap that became very spotlighted when we were looking at delay in third-party data… “We could see the disparity.”  Sales, inventory and overall data accuracy needed to be improved.  Dickey’s prepares its meats once a day, and once an item is sold out, the menu has to be updated to help reduce customer frustration.

“As customers spend more and more time online there is less tolerance for hiccups,” she says.

To pull in real-time data, Dickey’s pulled in Chowly as a partner and an aggregator that “worked with us to meet our integration needs,” Dickey said.

It’s been a success. “We don’t have that sales gap in third-party delivery so we can forecast,” she added.

Operators’ POS systems can now interact on top of Dickey’s proprietary dashboard. There is one set of menus, one set of ingredients, which helps operators make updates easily and quickly.