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Posted on: October 22, 2019 | Posted by: Sona Sharma

What’s Trending in QSR Personalization & Engagement?

The quick service restaurant (QSR) landscape is no stranger to personalization. Rooted in a deep history of customer service, fast cuisine, and local familiarity, the QSR has long been regarded for its reliability and consistency no matter what location a customer visits. However, when it comes to 1:1 engagement, personalization was often limited to a customer’s neighborhood location where servers knew regulars and their preferences.

Through the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities into restaurant technology, modern day QSRs are better able to engage loyal customers at every location to deliver exceptional  experiences no matter where or how a customer chooses to engage.

As technology continues to advance, it’s integral to stay on the pulse of how key players in QSR are adopting technology to engage their customers. Here are four top trends in QSR personalization and engagement, and what they mean for the future of the industry. 

Trend #1: Immersive Kiosks

By 2020, KFC intends to implement click-and-collect kiosks in 5,000 of its restaurants, joining many other QSRs in the race to streamline employee tasks and satisfy customers who are more accustomed to placing orders on touchscreen tablets rather than with the assistance of a cashier.

What this means for QSRs today…

More and more, customers have a preference for self-service technology. In fact, over 65 percent of customers said they would visit a restaurant more often if self-serve kiosks were an available form of ordering. This provides QSRs a golden opportunity to engage customers as they log in to their loyalty accounts with favorites, personalized offers and discounts, and more based on their historic and real-time order data.

Trend #2: Voice Recognition 

In the wake of its March acquisition of Dynamic Yield—which will empower drive-thru menu personalization—McDonald’s has acquired Apprente, a voice-based conversational technology company. Through the use of this technology, McDonald’s is empowered to drive greater throughput in the drive-thru, better order accuracy, and more consistent, engaging customer experiences.

What this means for QSRs today…

According to QSR Magazine and Insula Research, up to 17 percent of drive-thru orders are incorrect, which is usually discovered by the customer too late to correct as they’ve already exited the drive-thru. With reports indicating that one in five popular fast food locations have three of more vehicles in line at all times, intelligent voice recognition technology not only improves order accuracy and speed of service, but also enables a more standardized system for up-selling and cross-selling, garnering greater customer satisfaction across myriad QSR KPIs and higher average tickets.

Trend #3: Reward Programs

On Sept. 19, Chipotle introduced a brand new steak option, Carne Asada, which it first announced to its Chipotle Rewards Members. By sharing the exciting news with its reward members first—and as part of the initiative, inviting top steak lovers in their rewards program to attend VIP tasting events in select locations—Chipotle emphasized the exclusive perks and insider insight that customers receive for simply being loyal.

What this means for QSRs today…

AI takes customer loyalty to the next level, allowing QSRs to optimize individual engagements at scale and accelerate simple tasks and pattern recognition in real time. One survey concluded that more than half of customers are more likely to take part in a loyalty program that customizes its rewards and promotions based preferences like frequently order items and most-visited locations rather than one that didn’t. By crafting exclusive events, such as Chipotle’s steak-lovers tasting, which are only offered to customers with specific preferences, restaurants are able to connect with customers for personalized, memorable experiences.

Trend #4: Mobile Ordering

In 2010, Panera customers waited an average of 8 minutes in line just to place an order. By 2017, the popular sandwich and soup chain cut that number down to 1 minute, largely due to the restaurant’s mobile ordering and rapid pick-up options, which minimizes lines and streamlines employee tasks.

What this means for QSRs today…

With an estimated 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide by 2021, a greater number of customers will continue to turn to mobile ordering in the coming years. Mobile app adoption provides QSR’s an ideal outlet to engage with customers on an individual level, storing past purchases and browsing patterns for optimal engagement. Better still, when location services are activated, mobile devices empower QSRs to leverage geofencing to send customer’s in-the-moment notifications for relevant rewards and promotions.

One thing is clear from the top trends in QSR: personalization is integral to the future of the quick service restaurant, and advanced technology is how restaurants will achieve this goal. Positioned at the heart of this innovation is the AI technology QSRs select to make every customer interaction personal.

At ZineOne, we offer the intelligent platform restaurants require to engage guest’s across any channel they choose. Contact us today to learn more about how our AI-powered Intelligent Customer Engagement (ICE) platform extracts real-time, historical, and environmental data to personalize every customer journey.

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