Watching the Dough Rise

Here’s a story, and it will probably sound familiar. There’s a quick service restaurant chain. Let’s say they have around 500 locations, give or take, and about $1 billion in annual revenue. They have an app and a loyalty program that have been around for awhile. The loyalty program has a pretty solid member-base of 5-10 million, but only about 30% of members are active. 

Recently, the program has plateaued–mainly because the restaurant chain has been surpassed by competitors, and they don’t have the ability to make the necessary changes to catch up with the tech they currently have in place. They understand consumers’ expectations of what a loyalty program should look like as a result of companies like Starbucks who deliver real-time engagement and personalized experiences.

Despite paying a lot of money for various pieces of their stack, it’s an extremely arduous process for this restaurant chain to do anything. For example: when they want to send a campaign to individuals in a certain region that have not dined with them in the past 60 days, they have to send a request to their marketing agency. An annoying step in and of itself, but to add insult to injury they then have to wait 2-3 weeks while the agency polls the customer list. The restaurant may own their data, but they pay the agency to house it and pull it.

Two or three weeks after requesting the list from the agency, it’s sent over in a flat file. From there the restaurant chain’s IT team goes into the file and matches it to their transaction data, which is stored in-house. At this point, the marketing team can go to creative, then they will create and execute the campaign. All in, this restaurant is dealing with a 40+ day timeline to get a campaign up and running.

That’s 39 days too many, especially when they consider the fact that it probably only takes a company like Starbucks 45 minutes. Ouch.

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This tale represents the all-too-common challenges related to the time it takes to access customer data and deploy a marketing campaign, that face the restaurant industry, particularly fast casual and quick service establishments where ‘time is of the essence’ is an iron-clad mandate. Trying to overcome these challenges in order to meet customer expectations is akin to being asked to make a four-course meal but the pantry is locked, or all you have is bologna and cheese.

With new technology, restaurants have the ability to deliver highly sophisticated, personalized and timely engagements. However, the potential use cases a technology upgrade would enable are often inconceivable to companies who have been burdened by and resigned themselves to spending weeks going from this third-party to this department to that department just to get a simple customer list.

Restaurants need tech that not only marries multiple profiles to create a single customer view, but also enables restaurants to act on that unified data to deliver consistent, personalized experiences at the moment of impact. In a modern marchitecture, the pantry is always stocked, and the kitchen is always open, and everything is made to order every time.