The Quick Service Restaurant industry is highly competitive, with little variation between rival brands. A meaningful loyalty program can help you to better understand your customers and increase revenue... but how do you develop one that gets the most impact out of your investment?
In last week’s edition of Speaking of Loyalty, I wrote about how and why a meaningful customer loyalty program can be a powerful weapon for a quick service restaurant (QSR). From enticing new customers to better serving (and monetizing) those you have, developing a thoughtful rewards program can make a huge impact. But the bar for a successful QSR loyalty program is high, with members looking for a strong value proposition in order to stay engaged. So how do you develop one that lives up to customer expectations and is differentiated from the competition? Here are a few things to keep top-of-mind as you develop one.
How to Earn (and Keep) Customers’ Attention
According to the 2017 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census, the top three drivers in the U.S. for active participation in restaurant loyalty programs are how quickly rewards can be earned, the availability of great discounts and the range of rewards. How quickly a customer earns their first reward can mean the difference between whether they stay active in a program or forget it ever existed. Ideally, you should look to deliver that first reward within the first few months of membership. Surprise and delight can be a great way of doing so, such as through a free size upgrade. Initiatives that allow members to earn faster, like Starbucks Double Star Days, can also be effective in capturing a patron’s attention.
The 2017 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census also found that love for a brand, company, retailer or service was among the top five drivers for active participation in a restaurant loyalty program. If a customer signs up for your loyalty program, they may already have an emotional connection with your brand, but your program can (and should) provide a way to deepen it. Empower your employees to use the customer’s available data to enrich the experience, like referring to the customer by name or ‘remembering’ their usual order. Creating a sense of personalization in each interaction with your brand is a great way to encourage a stronger connection and to drive more frequent visits.
The Right Rewards (and Discounts)
Today, the ability to exchange points for cash or cash equivalents is expected by customers. There are QSR programs that are delivering that today: for example, Pizza Hut’s Hut Rewards offers one medium pizza for every $100 spent. QSR owners should decide what the equivalent offers are for their menu. The 2017 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census found that saving money was the most important purpose of a loyalty program for 45 percent of U.S. restaurant loyalty program members, which means that giveaways like free delivery or refills offer another excellent way to entice participation
Member benefits can also be used to improve on or expand the customer experience in meaningful ways. Offering members the ability to preorder, skip lines or save their regular orders in an app so staff know what they want before they walk through the door are all ways to offer added value to customers.
More QSR brands are offering loyalty programs with each passing year. Standing out from the crowd can be a challenge, but taking steps to offer innovative perks or interactivity can go a long way toward achieving that goal. GrubHub, for example, engages customers through promotional instant-win games that allow customers the chance to play an online game for special prizes or free food. What are the unique rewards, offers or interactions your restaurant could offer loyalty members that make sense for the brand?
QSR players have a real opportunity to use loyalty to increase the appeal of their brand to both existing and potential customers. Offering a clear value proposition will help to drive frequency and improve sales, and the data you collect from loyalty program members will help you to better understand their needs and improve the customer experience. When done right, it’s a win-win — so what’s keeping you from getting started?