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EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Staff Reporter, UK
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Feeling your pain: how mobilising loyalty and payment reduces the pressure on hospitality operators

LOKE CEO Matthew Khoury makes the case for mobile to maximise returns.

Hospitality is under pressure, with rising costs from every direction. Savvy operators are doing all they can to fatten up the bottom line.

However, this doesn’t always mean stripping overheads out of the business. Brands riding out the storm with relative ease are the ones maximising profitability from the tools they have. The conversation is moving from “what can I afford to lose?” to “what can I afford not to lose?”

The trick is for operators to take what they have and elevate it to improve both the customer experience and transparency of the business. The way to do this is for them to make more of their operational processes mobile – which in turn will remove the pressure points across front and back of house, whilst also continuing to give customers what they want.

Connect the dots for loyalty
One of the easiest fixes for operators to extract more profit from existing resources is to join up the various touchpoints in the customer journey - creating an occasion which will deliver on the experience every time. Loyalty programmes are a pretty sure-fire way to get customers coming back. However, it has to be done correctly, and in this day and age, that means on a mobile app.

A recent article in Marketing Week found that 80% of consumers want to collect their loyalty points through their mobile phones. The rich data loyalty programmes provide ensures operators can personalise their marketing to push relevant, location-based offers to the right people, at the right time. Interestingly, they also expect those offers to be personalised to them.

Make it quick, easy and simple
Ask any consumer and they’ll tell you that they don’t want to wait to pay for their food or drink. The industry is slowly starting to realise this and now we’re seeing increased interest in operator-branded apps, which not only solve the loyalty points problem but also allow customers to order and pay from their mobile phones.

The transactional data this collects, delivers an invaluable side-effect – true transparency for operators to check business efficiencies, whilst maximising opportunities on items that sell well or re-think those that don’t.

The gift of time
Front-of-house teams are notoriously time poor and continually under pressure to deliver on customer expectations. In employment terms, this is giving our industry a bad rep, with people churn now standing at an unwelcome 30% - twice the UK average. Data published by industry body UKHospitality in November 2018, also revealed controllable costs had risen to an average 52.5% of turnover in the eating and drinking out sector, with payroll the largest single element at 29.4%.

Faced with these facts, it makes sense for operators to take the pain out of the equation for teams. Adding order and payment solutions to an operator’s app means front-of-house are completely free to focus their attentions on delivering a totally engaged customer experience across a demanding service.

Clever apps have the ability to identify surges in footfall, meaning managers can plan shifts and schedule resources for the busiest periods. Not only will this streamline operations, but also increase job satisfaction. Indeed, the inflexibility and inconvenience of some hospitality rotas has been cited by workers as one of the industry’s most irritating characteristics as an employee.

Taking control
A branded app that enables the customer to order directly from their phone is a relief for everyone. For the operator, a slicker service with reduced room for human error provides welcome reassurance. For staff, it’s all about having the head space to focus on delivering a truly engaged experience for customers every time. For the customer, the experience becomes a seamless pleasure, with everything they want to do at their fingertips.

Embedding digital across the customer journey is now a crucial element for operators if they are to survive both current and future challenges. They should be looking to remove the pain points in a busy service to drive consistency and footfall.

When it comes to loyalty, ordering and payment - going mobile puts the customer firmly in control of their experience, whilst allowing teams to deliver that stress free face of the business. The key is to deliver a happy. helpful. hospitable service every time.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSRMedia UK. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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