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How Data is Modernizing the Personalized QSR Customer Experience and Driving Growth

The global QSR industry was experiencing a fundamental shift well before the global pandemic hit, with a move away from an approach rooted in standardization and efficiency and to a hyper-personalized, customer-centric experience. Long gone are the old days of being able to follow a formula that based store design, processes, signage, and menu offerings on the success of other markets. Having the ability to collect data and insights has changed the game, allowing brands to better understand their customers including their expectations, habits, and preferences.

Yet in today’s hyper competitive, post-COVID normal, having data-driven visibility into high level customer demographics only scratches the surface. A recent study found that 10.2% of all U.S. restaurants have closed permanently since March 2020, and between March 2020 and April, restaurant and foodservice sales were down $280 billion from expected levels. With the global economy now opening up at different rates, brands are looking at how they can sustain demand and continue engaging customers in the face of ongoing restrictions and health measures. As QSR brands navigate those evolving challenges, technology has become a key driver for staying profitable and competitive.

The real power of data for QSR brands is in having location data that reflects uniquely local customer preferences, behaviour and spending habits – powerful visibility that empowers QSR brands to get out ahead of the high expectations today’s consumers have of a personalized experience across all brand touchpoints. QSR brands that do so can leverage data to understand their customers in three critical ways:

Hyper-targeted dayparting

Optimizing QSR locations requires optimizing dayparted messaging. By strategically leveraging digital signage, retailers can run hyper-strategic dayparted messaging that strengthens brand loyalty and the in-restaurant experience. By using readily available insights and analytics to their advantage, brands can communicate the right message to the right customers at the right time of day – something that is ever-evolving with today’s generation of QSR customers. As noted in QSR Magazine, millennials “want to set their own hours, so their eating and drinking habits tend to blur traditional dayparts”. Having an understanding of local consumers and both their traditional and non-traditional dayparts can help retailers increase foot traffic, relevancy, engagement, and average order sales (AOV) by promoting the best-selling products at eye level, removing and adding items at certain times of the day, and making the drive-through selection process easier and more efficient.

Personalized and strategic marketing campaigns to maximize brand loyalty

Now more than ever, remaining relevant with consumers requires personalization and staying a step ahead of what they want, and data has the power to drive marketing campaigns that gets customers’ attention. As Marketing Dive has noted, personalized QSR initiatives are “what consumers want, as 71% say receiving an ad from a QSR that is tailored to them gives them a more favorable opinion of that brand”, according to AdTheorent's Dining Trends Report.

The power of OR’s platform lies in its ability to leverage multiple sources of internal and external customer data that allows us to create powerful local profiles for each location rooted in improved communication, strengthened compliance and stronger overall performance. The platform pulls in POS data along with data from kiosks and loyalty programs, empowering brand leaders to anticipate preferences and behavioural shifts that strengthen customer relationships. The result is effective and personalized campaigns, incremental visits, and an engaging brand experience.

Workforce management

When armed with location data and customer information, brands can create location profiles that drive additional operational cost savings and efficiencies, including labour spend. OR’s workforce management software is shifting the way QSR brands plan and execute across each location by giving management teams visibility into labour spend, and how scheduled shifts align – or don’t align – with the busiest times of day for customer traffic. The result is management teams that make smarter, more informed staffing decisions that ensure resources match demand.

OR’s platform goes even further and provides insights into sellable and non-sellable hours which can optimize labour and control labour spend. For example, by inputting the amount of time it takes to execute a in-store campaign and level of effort (LOE), OR can predict how long a location will need to execute a campaign on a per-campaign basis. LOE is automatically calculated by and visible to admin and location staff prior to a campaign launch.

The challenges the pandemic has brought on for the QSR industry are plenty – from increased costs to rising competition, to a hiring ‘crisis’, brands are rapidly looking for ways to increase revenue, find efficiencies and boost performance. Many of those challenges reflect local restrictions and health and safety precautions that have made the personalized in-restaurant experience more difficult, yet at the same time, customers have never stopped craving a customer-centric experience that connects them with a brand. They may even long for it more now with lingering distancing measures and other restrictions in place.

Having a proactive data strategy elevates brands and drives competitiveness – crucial drivers of success in today’s world. As QSR brands look at effective location rollout and customer engagement strategies, they must be tailored, targeted, and hyper local, and the data available today allows management teams to understand customers and trends in a way that can inform every aspect of curating a local experience – from menu items to store design. Understanding local trends and store level labour spend saves brands time and money, while providing a seamless and localized customer experience that drives loyalty. That coupled with the power of OR to improve organizational communication, strengthen compliance and increase location performance, can help propel brands forward.

The QSR industry is rapidly evolving, and the future of the industry will undoubtedly have data-driven personalization at its core – from facial recognition to drive through license plate readers. Leveraging local data is necessary to meet the evolving needs of consumers today, stay relevant, and maximize profits as the industry continue to navigate through, and recover from, the pandemic. OR exists to help our clients do just that.

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