Great Experiences Start with Listening to Customers

In the increasingly competitive space that is foodservice, restaurant companies must seek to differentiate by offering customers smart, compelling and convenient experiences. With 61% of restaurants focusing technology strategies on improving digital customer engagement in loyalty in 2017, according to the 2017 Restaurant Technology Study, how restaurants leverage innovation will be a crucial differentiator. In this exclusive Q&A, Michelle Tempesta, head of product, Paytronix, shares how companies must identify where customers pain points are in order to provide them with the experiences they want. This is where true engagement can happen and loyalty established.
In the past few years, how has the IT investment changed?
TEMPESTA: In the past, IT projects were centered on cost cutting and other efficiencies. Today, the most effective brands are standing up projects that focus on ridding the guest experience from any and all possible frictions. If the brand delivers convenience with quality food and service, repeat business will follow. Magic happens when marketing and IT are aligned.
Restaurant brands that consider the entire guest experience as the product they produce and then apply the voice of the customer to enhance the product do well – very well.
Donagh Herlihy, EVP, Digital & CIO Bloomin’ Brands told Hospitality Technology magazine in its May issue that, “any technology strategy must start at the guest experience…we look at how we can maximize consumer convenience…”
What restaurant companies do you believe are leaders in delivering on guest experience and what sets them apart?
TEMPESTA: Defining the problem that needs to be solved can only be understood by getting the voice of the customer. Brands that are delivering super guest experiences have clearly defined the problem to be solved and have leveraged technology to solve it.
Domino’s mission to streamline the ordering process was initiated by CEO J. Patrick Doyle in 2010 when he told his engineers to “make it so a customer could order a pizza while waiting at a stoplight.”
When Panera Bread began its Panera 2.0 journey, Ron Shaich, described it by saying, “It’s more than a mobile-payment system or simply a digital-ordering process. It’s an integrated, comprehensive, end-to-end solution that we believe will reduce friction such as wait times, improve order accuracy, and minimize or eliminate crowding – all while creating a platform for an ever more personalized experience.”
Our customers are improving the guest experience by offering SSO with ordering and loyalty, mobile payment, pay at the table, and delivering highly relevant and easy-to-redeem one-to-one offers.
How can all brands begin a journey toward delivering customer convenience and an experience that will compel future transactions?
TEMPESTA: The journey begins with identifying areas within the customer’s experience with the brand that can be modified with technology in a way that delivers convenience but does not put the work in the customers’ hands.
Gathering the voice of the customer begins with survey responses. Real-time surveys that appear in an email or within an app at the close of transactions give the brand the ability to receive voice of the customer experiences directly following the experience.
When a loyalty program is in place, surveys targeted to program members will result in high response rates and a positive communication opportunity. Today, a brand’s best customers want a hand in shaping the brand.
What can brands do better when attempting to deliver a connected digital experience?
TEMPESTA: Developing a system that delivers an exceptional guest experience means that systems need to be connected in such a way that the guest can sign into the system one time (single sign on) for loyalty, ordering, payment, and more. It also means that the system delivers a fast and reliable experience.
Delays in data transfer between integrated systems could result in servers and guests avoiding use of the system. The infrastructure and APIs enabling the system to operate quickly and readily are crucial to the success of delivering an exceptional guest experience.
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