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National Restaurant Association - Distributing and gathering information from mobile apps

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Distributing and gathering information from mobile apps

Restaurateurs and customers strive to make data-driven decisions. In addition to providing service-oriented solutions like tracking loyalty program rewards, mobile apps can also expose business patterns and improvement areas. At the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Restaurant Innovation Summit, industry leaders shed light on how to effectively utilize apps as information vehicles, benefiting operators and their guests.

Personalize the customer experience

Mobile apps can give customers restaurant information tailored to their wants and needs. Using the University of Illinois dining app, students can view campus menu items’ ingredients and set filters so they know which meals meet their dietary preferences. Students who download the Campus Extras app can elect to receive push notifications that beam out nearby campus dining venues' special offers, according to Dawn Aubrey, the associate director of university housing for dining services and the National Association of College and University Foodservice president. 

Chris Demery, former Bloomin’ Brands’ group vice president of customer experience technology and Outback Steakhouse’s senior IT business partner, said customers can recognize personalization when they see it. The Outback app allows customers to remotely add themselves to a restaurant location’s wait list, place a to-go order, and view menus and promotions. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar on-site customers can receive recommendations for wine pairings via the brand’s WinePad app.

When creating and rolling out restaurant apps, ensure the technology enhances the guest experience, Demery said.

Gain business insight

During the on-demand delivery panel, which included execs from Delivery.com, DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates and Zomato, moderator Brita Rosenheim of Rosenheim Advisors said, “Operators are strapped for time. You want quick answers and quick insight.”

The on-demand delivery market continues to grow, and tangible restaurant performance data can be extracted from delivery apps. App providers may compile star-ratings, customer complaints and other traceable feedback into easy-to-read dashboards and reports. From this information, you can spot pain points and take action.

Prahar Shah, DoorDash’s head of business development, said DoorDash measures every part of delivery, from order time to when a customer receives his or her meal.  “We look at each of these times and get a better read on your food,” he said. By turning this information into a math problem of sorts, the app’s data can help restaurant operators create an optimal delivery experience.

What you name menu items may affect customers’ interest levels. Stan Chia, GrubHub’s senior vice president of operations, said GrubHub can perform multiple heuristic tests simultaneously and provide verbiage recommendations based off trends and customer preferences. They can also analyze kitchen workflow, so delivery doesn’t adversely impact operations.

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