The pandemic hastened digital transformation in many industries, and the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market is no exception. The space was already wading into digital interaction, and then COVID pushed it right into the deep end.
According to QSR Magazine, “The current crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital interfaces across quick service, and that’s a behavioral change that’s likely to stick around.”
How does this digital momentum play out in QSR, specifically? It requires a shift in focus regarding why customer data matters and how to use it best.
Mobile, Personalization, and a New Focus for QSRs
While there’s certainly an increase in online orders, mobile app usage is taking the headlines. Time spent in non-gaming apps was up 20% YoY in Q1, and QSRs have been working tirelessly to grab their piece of the mobile pie.
However, the needs of an app user don’t exactly line up with those of the traditional QSR customer. App users are driven by experiences. It’s not just about having a clean restaurant, fast service, and tasty food. They crave (and have come to expect) personalization. Suddenly, the industry can’t just focus on product data like item combos and nutrition. They must also prioritize customer data, which previously wasn’t a big part of the equation.
This may be a challenge for many QSRs, but it’s also a great opportunity. If they can get customer data and personalization right, they can gain strong customer loyalty and differentiate from the crowd of competitors.
How QSRs Can Leverage Customer Data
Widespread adoption of digital ordering both requires and equips QSRs to gather valuable customer data to improve experiences. Armed with customer data, QSRs can deliver more personalized offers, rewards, and omnichannel experiences.
Digital restaurant orders increased by 63% in March 2020 alone. What’s the benefit of this surge in orders (besides revenue)?
Every digital order brings new insight into customer preferences. Plus, orders aren’t the only way companies gather data. When consumers download and sign-in to apps, they volunteer valuable information about their location, demographics, and tastes, even going as granular as food allergies or diet restrictions.
When this data is collected and analyzed, it helps QSRs push out relevant promotions, pricing, and advertising.
How does this personalization materialize for consumers?
QSRs can take data from your past orders to predict order preferences, identify cross-selling opportunities, and deliver personalized offers in the app and through push notifications.
If your QSR app can predict what you’ll order, and even suggest another item that sounds tasty, it creates a delightful experience that will keep you coming back.
Who doesn’t love a nice reward? It could be a surprise to top off your usual order or a discount on an item you get every time. Regardless, a personalized reward can make a customers’ day and breeds brand loyalty.
In the case of QSR, a point system that grows with each order is particularly effective. As customers place more orders, they build toward their next upgrade or freebie and can see progress in real-time. It’s like a punch card, but the gamification aspect makes it more fun.
Customer data is essential to make these rewards resonate. While it’s nice to occasionally receive a new menu item, something from your order history will make a greater impact. If you order a burger every time, then a brand rewards you on your birthday with their new salad, that’s likely to miss the mark.
Also, customer data can help QSRs with reward delivery. By gathering customer phone numbers and email addresses, they can send rewards via text and email, in addition to their app.
Modern customers interact with brands across many touchpoints, including mobile apps, social media, online menus, and drive-thrus (not to mention dining in). When QSRs manage customer data and reach out through multiple channels, it’s easier to break through the digital noise and connect with your audience.
QSRs can use data to build a cohesive customer profile and personalize messages. This solid foundation of data also helps power AI-enabled experiences. As QSRWeb.com noted, “Artificial intelligence technology can capture real-time dynamics through multiple digital channels so QSRs can tailor their content quickly and effectively via their apps, social media, websites, and other communication channels.”
Though it’s tempting for QSRs to place intense focus on their app, they can’t neglect the other ways to influence customers.
Turn Challenge into Opportunity
It’s been a challenging year for QSRs, but those embracing data and digital transformation can adapt to the new conditions.
At a time when customer data is crucial for personalization, Master Data Management (MDM) comes to the rescue. MDM empowers QSR operators to centralize their data for a holistic view of the customer in order to deliver consistent, accurate and individualized experiences.
An MDM platform can be a game-changer, but technology alone is never enough. Every market has nuanced data needs, and it’s crucial to put the right processes and strategies in place to make sure technology is helping you achieve your goals. Amplifi knows the QSR space and has helped QSR industry leaders optimize their data and digital programs.
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