By Alan Chung, CEO, Perka
From social media and tablet point-of-sale systems to implementing menu options from the health craze du jour, many limited-service restaurants are investing considerable resources trying to differentiate from their competitors. But as business owners, we often forget that providing good old-fashioned customer service never goes out of vogue and is key to bringing customers back day after day.
With new mobile loyalty programs, businesses can stand out from the competition by offering better, more personal service in 2013.
Improving customer service with loyalty
In just two years time, loyalty programs have changed drastically, driven by new mobile and in-store technology. Instead of passé paper punch cards, business owners can leverage technology to personally engage patrons and build intimate relationships with them. For example, these new technologies can help your staff learn the names and order preferences of your customers.
It works like this: Customers check in to your shop using an app on their smartphones. The cashier's device (typically an iPhone or iPad) alerts your staff that the customer has arrived and displays her profile, which includes name, picture and order preferences. With your staff able to call the customer by name, you create a genuinely personalized customer experience.
With professional retail systems, customers also earn perks based on actual accrued purchase amounts, allowing them the flexibility to earn rewards for more of their purchases. And shop owners are able to offer targeted and relevant rewards by understanding, more specifically, what each customer cares about.
Added business value
Mobile loyalty won't just improve your customer service ratings, it will improve your bottom line as well. According to a University of Chicago study, customers accelerate their purchase frequency by 20 percent when they're close to earning a reward, and they buy 20 percent more product in less time when motivated by a reward. Here's an example:
Portland-based JazzKats Coffee Bar has used mobile-loyalty to generate revenue through cross sales. After implementing Perka in 2011, the company launched a customer loyalty program offering incentives for coffee, espresso and sandwich purchases. By offering multiple incentive programs simultaneously, visit frequency improved from once every nine days to once every four days with regular coffee drinkers coming in for lunch. Customers that participated in all three programs generated five times more monthly revenue than customers in one program.
Businesses looking to stand out from the crowd this year are getting back to the fundamentals of business: providing good, old-fashioned customer service. Engaging customers on a personal level and rewarding their patronage in flexible, relevant ways not only creates a better experience for the customer, it's the foundation of a more profitable 2013.
Alan Chung is CEO of Perka, a mobile marketing and loyalty platform that connects retail businesses to their customers via smartphone applications. With Perka, merchants can maintain relationships with regular customers, and leverage an enterprise-class retail information system. Perka is based in Portland, Ore., and New York City. Visit www.getperka.com.