Enterprise restaurants need different IT solutions than the corner café. Their challenges include delivering consistent experiences at all locations and on all channels and achieving deep visibility into their customers’ preferences and behaviors so they can provide the experiences their customers want.
Israel L’Heureux, CEO of Touchpoint Restaurant Innovations, says enterprise restaurant growth comes when they can achieve increased customer interaction, which leads to an increase in customer data. “That’s it. If you only have visibility to the top 20 percent of customers, you can only affect 20 percent of your business,” says L’Heureux.
The Touchpoint solution delivers more data across more customers, and brands can work with Touchpoint’s AI/machine learning team to run the best campaigns for growth. Instead of a loyalty program getting only 10 or 20 percent of customers, or Starbucks’ 37 percent digital loyalty participation, chains powered by Touchpoint see upwards of 80 percent digital loyalty participation in the same vertical as SBUX.
L’Heureux offers some insights to ISVs working in the enterprise restaurant vertical about the current challenges these businesses are facing and how the right IT solutions can help overcome them.
How are enterprise restaurants trying to adapt to changes in their industry?
L’Heureux: Customers are now shopping outside the walls of restaurants and have increasingly elevated demands about customer experience.
The big problem for brands is the Frankenstein technology model, which is where different vendors are responsible for little pieces, but no one is responsible for the whole outcome. No vendor is responsible for knowing who the customer is, or for delivering a seamless experience, so it never happens. The integration burden falls to the brand, and invariably those integrations don’t work as promised. So, despite all the effort and expense, the restaurants still don’t know more than a small percentage of their customers, and can’t deliver an experience that customers crave.
I heard one executive say, “We just installed POS X, Loyalty Y, and Online Store Z, but now I feel like we’ve just caught up to the back of the pack. Sure, we checked the boxes but can’t deliver the experience we want, or that our customers really want.”
How are enterprise restaurants leveraging technology to help meet those challenges?
L’Heureux: There is a massive opportunity for leading enterprise restaurant brands to outpace the competition by delivering on heightened customer expectations: Customers want to be known and rewarded, and they expect to have seamless experiences at every touchpoint.
The first step of overcoming challenges is when enterprise restaurant brands recognize that they’re living with, and sometimes covering up, the broken promises from technology vendors. These broken promises translate into sub-optimal guest experiences and sub-optimal sales. Enterprise restaurants have success when they stop protecting legacy technology and understand that overlooking shortcomings has a high cost.
The truth is, with the right software on a flexible platform, an ideal experience is possible today.
Success comes with deployments of unified “everywhere commerce” where 80 percent of guests opted into the brand’s digital loyalty, and customers enjoy seamless experiences whether online, at kiosks or in-store, and all their points, rewards and previous orders are available everywhere. Success comes when the stores can use the vendor’s AI models to predict the shopper’s behavior with a high degree of accuracy and incentivize new visits. What we build together with enterprise customers is a very different picture than the old “online ordering connected to legacy POS.” We want brands to break free from the legacy mentality that limits their growth and has them only “catching up to the back of the pack.”
How can enterprise restaurant software drive efficiency, especially during peak or when a restaurant is experiencing increasing traffic?
L’Heureux: Efficiency is really about putting the right information in the right place at the right time. For example, we don’t do any installations without our Intelligent KDS, because we have developed so many features that make even skeptical brands see (and measure) the throughput and performance gains. With the kitchen operating faster and more accurately than ever before, we like to deploy additional paths for customers to order and pay beyond the POS- whether that’s in-store or drive-thru line busters, kiosks, and of course, next-gen online and mobile. The final step, of course, is measurement and validation. We report and graph every single transaction across the chain, so HQ and operators can compare speeds of individual steps like ordering, cash payment vs. card payment, individual prep stations and overall customer time.
The experiences customers expect (or demand) have evolved in recent years. Is there a modern set of best practices for CX that enterprise restaurant software developers should support with their applications?
L’Heureux: This is a really good point. Customers today shop at Amazon, Apple, even Tesla, not to mention DoorDash or Uber and with each interaction with a world-class brand their commerce expectations increase.
Enterprise restaurant brands are going to win or lose millions of customers over the coming years as they improve their User Interface and Customer Experience, or stay the same/only catch up to the back of the pack.
Look at pizza: this vertical has had online ordering and delivery for years, but most brands (outside of the very largest brands in this space who invested enormous capital), never advanced the experience and stayed with legacy vendors and old ideas. DoorDash comes in with a better User Interface and better CX and many previously loyal pizza customers converted to third parties. If enterprise restaurants in any vertical want to keep their customers, they must update old technology touchpoints.
What else do enterprise restaurants need from software vendor partners?
L’Heureux: We think it’s important for enterprise restaurant brands to start finding partners who can walk with them and overcome obstacles. Find partners who will take the time to understand their core business, and deploy customized solutions that overcome their specific challenges. If every touchpoint, including your POS, isn’t delivering five-star reviews and helping you grow, why allow it to hold you back? Every brand with 50+ locations should have features that meet their unique needs, on a secure platform that is scalable to thousands of locations, delivers 99.95 percent uptime and has the flexibility to provide and promote commerce in-store and everywhere else. Brands who want to see growth need to meet customers where they’re at…everywhere.