In a nation that loves to eat out, restaurants ought to be CRM learning laboratories. Unfortunately they’re not. But Jim Daleen, CEO of Appsuite, hopes to change all that.
Restaurateurs commonly skimp on marketing. They don’t think about connecting their brand to their customers. Many assume that the food and the ambiance will do it for them automatically, saving an investment in technology or marketing people.
But this state of mind ignores the key psychological factor that underlies loyalty. People want to be known and recognized in their favorite restaurants. Personal customized service pays off whether it’s a free drink, a bonus dessert, an amuse bouche or just a bit of public schmoozing with the chef. A loyal restaurant customer will spend $10,000 over five years if they eat out once a week and spend $40. So if that’s the average lifetime value of a fan, it’s well worth managing the customer relationship.
In constructing his app, Daleen focused on 3 critical building blocks of customer loyalty.
Utility. His app enables patrons to book a table, either directly or through Open Table, order a take out meal, divert themselves during wait times with menus, games and fun food facts, check in on Foursquare or share the menu or their review on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook or Twitter. The app synchs with common customer behavior. It provides a helpful service and is designed to be used in context. Useful value exchange is the foundation stone for building consumer loyalty.
Connection. You can’t stimulate customer traffic and repeat purchases if you aren’t connected to your customer base. The app creates a virtual private network (VPN) between a restaurant and its patrons enabling personal, targeted pushed messages. Cueing best customers about specials, reminding them its osso bucco night or delivering a birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day offer creates momentum and reinforces the sensation of belonging or of being an insider that consumers treasure.
Rewards & Incentives. The app has a built-in points system that connects to a restaurant’s POS system. Not only can restaurateurs track orders, food or wine preferences and dollar value, they can reward selected purchases, incent social sharing and enroll their best customers as brand advocates. Each restaurant can set up a cadence for rewards using business rules to deliver rewards, coupons or offers directly to patrons’ phones.
Loyalty is a function of brand familiarity, utility, connection and rewards. Jim Daleen’s AppSuite leverages these fundamentals. So maybe soon restaurants will be at the leading edge of CRM practices.