How QSR Brands Can Build Loyalty Programs that Work

Jillian MacNulty Picture

by Jillian MacNulty | Last Updated: Jun 13, 2019

When it comes to creating loyal customers in the quick service restaurant (QSR) and fast casual food industries, a mobile-driven loyalty program is the way to go. That’s because customers are on the go constantly, and need an easy way to keep track of their points and rewards. World Wide Technology's VP of Digital, Matt Sebek, says in the Mobile Matters podcast that even though many companies are launching customer loyalty programs, brands can sometimes fall behind on keeping up with the technology, rolling out updates, and meeting customer needs. Here's a few trends that can help your brand stay on top of  game for mobile loyalty programs in the QSR industry: Order Ahead Let’s be honest–sometimes the rewards aren’t enough. In order to earn that mobile adoption and engagement, you’ve got to give your customers an immediate win. When in doubt, convenience is the way to their hearts. Forty-five percent of diners say that offering a mobile ordering option would bring them to a restaurant more often, and 20 percent of all diners often use pre-order options. Offering a mobile ordering option is a great way to get customers to adopt your mobile app in the first place, and gives you an opportunity to delight them enough that they want to sign up for your rewards program. Earning their loyalty isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. And mobile ordering is a great first step. A Way to Pay Take it from brands like Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, and Wendy’s–mobile pay is a worthy investment. By integrating a way to pay into your mobile app (whether it’s with a barcode at the counter, or via credit card when they mobile order), you’re freeing them up to visit you on a whim, even when they might not have their cards on hand. Panera–another big QSR player in the mobile payment space–saw a 64 percent increase in offer redemptions and a 15 percent increase in loyalty card engagement when they made mobile payment an option. Tiered Rewards If you’re a Starbucks fanatic (like me!), you'll definitely have noticed that they changed their customer rewards program to a tiered system. Previously, all of the points earned by buying beverages or food would go toward one reward option: a free drink of your choice. Now, Starbucks has tiers of reward that allow loyalty members to choose what they want–for example, 25 stars for an extra shot of espresso in your drink, 50 for a bakery item, 400 for store merchandise, and so on. Other QSR brands have been latching on to this type of tiered reward system and seeing some great benefits, not only on the customer satisfaction end, but also for their customer data repository. With the ability to segment out what rewards appeal most to certain customers, brands can continue to personalize the rewards experience even further with personalized offers and upgrades based on a customer’s preferences. Fazoli's VP of Marketing, Jodie Conrad, puts it best: loyalty has been “a precision tool we’ve been using as a blunt instrument”. Tiered programs are just one way to start gathering data on your most important customers, and personalizing their experiences to keep them coming back time and time again.

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