Mobile CRM is a game changer that puts every restaurant on an even playing field

July 11, 2014 | by Jitendra Gupta

I’m a longtime fan, and if you’re like me, you’re used to the website seemingly reading your mind. Even before you enter a single search term, the site suggests things it knows you’d probably like to buy. Of course, its “knowledge” is based solely on your past purchases and searches. But that ability to engage and “suggestive sell” customers is why it’s the world’s largest online retailer.

Restaurants can do what Amazon is doing and more, using Mobile Customer Relationship Management (or Mobile CRM). Instead of waiting for customers to come to your store, you can target them with offers right on their mobile devices, wherever they are.

Mobile CRM combines the latest technologies including smartphone apps, the cloud and POS systems to engage and market directly to customers. A restaurant can use mobile CRM to engage customers directly through loyalty rewards programs, branded games, customer surveys, etc. to gather customers’ transactional data, social media activity and lead them to buy from more frequently, increase ticket averages and refer new customers. The result: higher comparable-store sales and EBITDA.

Getting the whole picture of the customer

Only through mobile CRM can brands know the exact sales impact of every promotion and each customer. Historically, paper-punch and swipe cards helped operators know which customers visited frequently, but those tools provided few details about actual customer purchases. Online ordering does capture some details, but it typically lacks the power to engage with customers directly and personally.

Using Mobile CRM, restaurants can obtain a complete picture of their guests -- what they purchased, how much they spent and what they shared about the brand on social media. Over time, that picture becomes more developed with their likes and dislikes, what food or drink they’ll try and what they say about the brand on social media.

One of our partners, the Earl of Sandwich chain (part of the Planet Hollywood Group), has experienced such increases since launching the Punchh app last year. Several thousand customers have enrolled in its loyalty program, and they visit an EOS store five to 10 times a month. EOS knows its loyalty members spend 22 percent more than the average customer because the Punchh platform tracks what they buy and how much they spend. It also tracks what they say about their experiences in social media and knows which customers are referring their friends to the brand.

Direct, one-to-one marketing to each customer

Restaurant operators can make their marketing more dynamic and tailored to each customer with individualized messages and promotions. They can engage each customer in a targeted fashion and reward him or her with things they want, not with one-size-fits-all offers. Heavy users of a brand do respond to rewards, but most customers prefer more nuanced benefits, things like special status as a VIP customer who gets access to private promotions, secret menus or seating, which mobile CRM can manage.

Only through mobile CRM is this one-to-one relationship between brands and customers possible. Generic TV and radio advertising becomes unnecessary when you can target a 21-year-old male college student or a 33-year-old mother of two in ways that are unique and relevant to them.

Mobile CRM allows operators to go even further in tailoring rewards that drive specific customer behaviors that benefit their brand. They can drive customers to increase the number of times they visit; spend more, use online ordering, order specific items, pre-pay for purchases, respond to surveys, play the brand’s game, visit a specific location during specific times and much more.

Here’s a great example of the effectiveness of how cleverly you can personalize an offer: A casual restaurant operator partner of ours sent two nearly identical messages to its customers’ smartphones: one invited a segment of customers to “come watch Alabama beat LSU;" the other message invited LSU fans to “come watch the Tigers beat the Crimson Tide.” The restaurant group did this for all NCAA and NFL games during the weekend, and targeted all loyalty members who lived within 5 miles of each of the restaurants. That day’s promotion generated $93,076 in sales tracked to customers who received those invitations. Of those invited, 1762 came in from the offer (23 percent conversion rate from push notification to buying), 177 posted reviews to Facebook and 53 referrals were tracked. Using patent-pending technology, our restaurant customers can monetize and measure the impact of social media.

Mobile CRM allows every operator to pinpoint those customers who are a brand’s most valuable asset. Recently Starbucks reported that the 6 percent same-store sales increase in Q1 of this year was largely a result of their loyal customers who visit more often thanks to their wildly popular mobile rewards and payments app. Not only does Starbucks know they are valuable, they know exactly who they are, how much each one of them spent, and how frequently they visited in Q1.

At no time in history has such a technological revolution become more affordable. Mobile CRM is a game changer allowing even the smallest restaurant operator to compete with the big guys.

Topics: Loyalty Programs, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Online / Mobile / Social

Jitendra Gupta
Jitendra Gupta is a Co-Founder and Head of Product at Punchh, a mobile engagement and actionable insights platform that includes branded mobile apps for campaigns, games, loyalty, online ordering, payments, referrals, reviews, gift cards, surveys, and integrates with social networks and operators’ POS systems to gather 360° customer insights. Punchh helps restaurants increase same store sales and profitability by driving repeat visits, word of mouth, new customer referrals, and higher returns from marketing campaigns. wwwView Jitendra Gupta's profile on LinkedIn

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