Consumers’ increasing appetite for technology has changed the role of the restaurant CIO, said Cherryh Butler, business development specialist for Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Butler spoke at the recent National Restaurant Association Show about restaurant technology and said the CIOs' behind-the-scenes working days are over.
“The 80 million Millennial consumers expect to use a variety of technologies when it comes to dining out,” Butler said. “And the marketing teams and restaurant owners can’t provide those experiences without help from the tech guys.”
Until now, CIOs have focused only on the company needs, maintaining infrastructures, measuring employee productivity and streamlining business practices. In order for restaurants to stay competitive, however, CIOs must become the bridge between marketing teams and consumers.
Whether the customer technology being implemented involves a mobile app or a marketing campaign designed to motivate consumers to share their brand experiences with their peers, the CIO is more likely than other c-level staff to possess the knowledge to pull off the endeavor.
“You now have the chance to really have a seat at the table,” Butler said. “When the tech guys join forces with the marketing guys, your consumers are going to be excited. But you have to be able to walk your CEOs through it and show them how the business will benefit. You gotta speak their language.”
One big mistake, however, is to implement technology for the sake of technology, she said. In order to resonate with customers, applications and campaigns must answer 'yes' to the following three questions:
“Think about your customers the same way you would as your spouse,” Butler said. “If you are together for a long time, you may fall out of love and you have two choices: Rekindle the romance, or the alternative is divorce.”
The same is true for customers and brands – and technology is one way to excite customers. Starbucks’ mobile loyalty app, for example, has 8 million members and completes 14 percent of all the chain’s U.S. transactions. Its success stems from the fact that it’s useful, fun, fast, reliable and also sends customers unexpected offers, Butler said.
“Millennials, of course, want those linear awards. I want to know after my fifth visit that my next coffee is free,” she said. “But I also want a fun freebie out of the blue that will get me excited about your brand. “
Photo provided by Wikimedia.