Now that we’re halfway through 2021, how are you navigating the new normal? What are you doing to accommodate all of the changes we’ve seen in customer behavior? How are you working to exceed ever-changing and sky-high customer expectations?
While many people have returned to the office, working from home is still most definitely a thing, which could permanently disrupt the commuter patterns you may have relied on heavily pre-pandemic. For example, you probably see fewer people drop in for a cup of coffee or a breakfast sandwich on their way to work every morning. If you specifically opened locations near big office buildings or downtown areas, you probably see fewer people showing up for a quick lunch. On the other hand, you may see an uptick in people who work from your cafe all day long and, thus, put in multiple orders over the course of several hours.
Bottom line — things are very, very different than they were 18 months ago, which means you need to view your business operations and your marketing efforts very, very differently. Here are 3 things that need to be in your new strategic toolkit:
1. An emphasis on off premise
If there’s anything we learned during the pandemic it’s that people want the option of enjoying their favorite restaurants at home. If you don’t have a seamless delivery and takeout ordering experience, you will miss out on countless customers who don’t want to jump through hoops in order to do business with you. And for that experience to keep up with 2021’s expectations, you don’t just need a seamless website. You also need an app that makes the customer experience both easy and interactive.
An emphasis on off presence premise gives customers the flexibility they’re now looking for, and it gives you a valuable opportunity to boost your bottom line. After all, these people never step foot in your restaurant (or, at the very least, don’t need to sit down at a table). They either pull up to the curb for food, grab their meal in your to-go section, or stay at home and wait for the delivery. You don’t need extra wait staff or extra space to accommodate them. And if you can create a curbside or to-go experience that takes only a matter of minutes, you’ll have customers who crave convenience coming back time and time again.
A perfect example of convenience is Chipotlanes, the special drive-thru lanes built solely for mobile Chipotle order pickups. Bojangles and Del Taco are also working on plans for drive-thru only locations so that their customers can have a quick, easy experience.
An important point to make as you work to refine your off premise strategy is that your POS needs to be a sidekick to your mobile order process, not vice versa. Create a cutting-edge strategy that exceeds today’s expectations, get the technology you need to make it work, then integrate your POS with it. If you try to make your POS the anchor, you’ll likely be dragged down by legacy technology that can’t keep up with today’s needs, wants, and goals.
2. Stronger tactics to stand out
Now that life is starting to return to normal, people want to get out. As convenient as it is to eat delivered or to-go food at home, they want the full experience of sitting down in a restaurant — even if it’s only for a quick lunch. With so many restaurants to choose from and so many brands trying to stand out, you need stronger tactics to generate attention and engagement than you did a couple years ago.
This is where smart offer management can be worth its weight in gold. The more creative you can be with your promotions, the more people are going to notice them. And with the right technology, it’s easy to create and distribute single-use offers that can’t be duplicated, so the lift to get your campaigns up and running is light.
As an added benefit, if your offer management platform is integrated with your CRM and your SMS messaging system, you will be able to maintain constant communication with your customers. Otherwise, the saying “out of sight, out of mind” couldn’t be more accurate. (That’s a lesson many brands learned the hard way during the pandemic!)
3. An omnichannel presence
Today’s customers don’t just want a convenient experience; they also want a personalized experience. In fact, 76% of US consumers believe that having a personalized discount opportunity derived from their shopping history and behavior is vital. The right smart offer management technology can provide you with the historical and behavioral data, and you can then take personalization a step further with omnichannel offer campaigns.
Omnichannel campaigns give you the chance to send out offers on the channel each customer prefers most, including email, SMS, in-app notifications, push notifications, social, physical coupons, etc. With all of the advanced customer data your offer management platform is collecting, it’s easy to determine who goes in which segment.
Above all else, as we move forward into the last half of 2021 and beyond, think of this as a valuable time to optimize and maximize. Be proactive in the ways that you address shifts in the market and changes in customer behavior. If you do, every customer will enjoy sitting smack dab in the middle of their personalized journey.