Archive for the “Guest Engagement” Category

Improving the Online Ordering Experience with ChatGPT

November 29, 2023

As a software engineer, I love experimenting with new technology. It’s like being a kid with a new toy. So when ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot from OpenAI, was introduced I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. As Vice President of Online Ordering at Paytronix, I also wanted to find out if a chat bot could help our clients

The speed that ChatGPT went from techie tool to mainstream is simply amazing. OpenAI officially launched it in November 2022 and anyone can try it out and get familiar with how it works.  

I got my hands on a beta version a little earlier and experimented with it both as a feedback response vehicle and for its language translation abilities. I had tried other AI chat options, but ChatGPT was the only chat bot that offered what Paytronix needed.  

How ChatCPT Can Help 

The beta version of ChatGPT confirmed my suspicions that the chat bot would be a great customer communication facilitator for the Paytronix guest surveys and feedback tool, which is an integral part of Paytronix Online Ordering. When it comes to keeping customers engaged, responding quickly to customer concerns is essential.  

The Paytronix Online Ordering platform automatically engages guests within two hours of their order so that they can respond with the experience fresh in their mind. Guests are asked to rate their experience on a scale of one to five, and the results are immediately sent via email to a store manager who also can see the guest’s lifetime value. Designed to help store managers measure and mediate interactions with guests who place orders online, this process helps store managers identify guests with unhappy online ordering experiences. A quick response is often the difference between keeping a guest returning and losing them for life.  

Previously, store managers would respond to an unhappy guest by using either generic, pre-written emails or customizing one for their experience. Neither situation is ideal, since one isn’t personalized, and the other is time-consuming.  

Here’s where ChatGPT offered its best use-case. By creating queries that take into account a user’s experience, ChatGPT can return a customized email that can be read, edited, and sent out fast.  

As this technology continues to advance, the process of reviewing and responding to guest issues will move further along the automation curve. The responses will get better and the process of sending them will get even faster.  

Solving Integration Puzzle 

While much of the hype around ChatGPT has focused on the public version, Paytronix worked with OpenAI to license a premium version of ChatGPT, the best solution for embedding in commercial products like Online Ordering. Once we could access the ChatGPT application programming interface (API), Paytronix had access to ChatGPT 3.5 model and all its bells and whistles. 

The next step in making this a usable solution was “prompt engineering,” which requires engineers to write prose, not code, to test the AI chatbots. At Paytronix, our prompt engineers wanted to identify the most common responses in our survey tool, then help the chat bot come back with good answers to those questions.  

This is a case where content truly matters. When our engineers built prompts using direct quotes from guests the responses hit the right notes. But it’s not as simple as just sending the email over to ChatGPT, there needs to be some additional work happening to ensure we get the right responses. Even then it’s never going to be perfect, so it’s important to have a human to review and edit the response before hitting the send button.  

As we continue to develop this tool, we can take advantage of a general adversarial network (GAN), a type of machine learning capability, whereby one response can be played against another. The store manager can ask “is this appropriate to send? Yes/no.” Over time, the GAN will get better and better at understanding what is a plausible response and what is not.  

Beyond the email 

In addition to generating responses, ChatGPT can also summarize and categorize guest comments. Let’s assume a restaurant then received a barrage of negative comments in just one night. By adding TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) into the prompt, followed by the text ChatGPT can generate a synopsis in a fraction of a second. Now the manager can get a quick summary of what went wrong that night. ok 

On top of all that, ChatGPT offers a much better way to do sentiment analysis. To date, ChatGPT has demonstrated that it can ID data and statistical values when the proper input is provided. Likewise, it is getting better at spotlighting trends with the proper input. 

We’re now experimenting with other uses for ChatGPT. At its most basic it could be used to generate other copy like for menu item descriptions or personalized messages. We are also looking at it for translating information into various languages or even helping catalog things differently. This could help us rethink how we display or share menus.  

But no matter how we use it, there remains a human at the end making sure that what goes out is right and appropriate. AI is great, but we still can’t replace the human mind. 

Learn more about how to leverage artificial intelligence in your online ordering solution.

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5 Gift Card Sales Predictions for This Holiday Season 

November 8, 2023

Top Predictions: 

  • Total holiday gift card sales value will be up, while the total number of cards sold will be down. 
  • Digital gift card sales will continue their rise. 
  • Unless there’s another country-wide storm, the 23rd of December will once again be the biggest day of gift card sales. 
  • More consumers will opt for higher value gift cards. 
  • Fine dining gift card sales will continue to rise, QSRs sales will fall. 

According to Paytronix Gift Card Data from the last several years, some retailers have much to be cheerful about. The data shows that the shift to digital gift cards is in full swing and that dining trends across the country continue to edge towards sit-down concepts. But despite the swing to digital, an arctic blast last December translated to lower gift card sales on a key shopping day, demonstrating that gift card sales are not insulated from factors such as weather. 

Last year, holiday gift card sales were largely up across the board. The total dollar value of cards sold was up 2.2% versus 2019 and up 1.4% since 2021. 2022 was the best year for gift card sales in recent memory, with more dollars spent on gift cards between Black Friday and Christmas Eve than any year since 2019. With inflation still higher than usual, we predict that this year, the total value of holiday gift card sales will reach a new high. 

However, while the total dollars spent on gift cards has increased, the number of gift cards sold was substantially lower than previous years. For the holiday period from November to December, numbers of gift cards sold dropped by 5.1% vs 2019 and by 10.7% from 2022. However, this trend has a notable exception: digital gift cards. Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve 2022, the value of physical gift cards dropped nearly a fifth (22%) vs 2019 and 7.9% since 2021. Digital gift cards, on the other hand, saw the value of sales increase by a whopping 77% since 2019 for the same time period, while the value of digital gift cards sold also increased 4.6% since 2021. We predict that digital cards will continue their rise and that the value per card will continue to increase. 

One trend of note during the Holiday Season of 2022 was the impact of a severe winter storm that froze out a large portion of the country just before Christmas. As shown in the chart below, December 23 is typically the best day for gift card sales. While this still held true for 2022, gift card sales suffered significantly, with numbers of cards sold per day down 32.6% from 2019, down 23% since 2022, and down 10.9 percent since 2020 during the height of the worst year on record. Shoppers who procrastinated had to find other stocking stuffers as the weather prevented last-minute shopping. However, we predict that if the weather is normal on December 23, that the gift dollars loaded will reach a new high on this critical day (and if your brand is concerned about the risk of bad weather, consider offering a promotion earlier in the season, like this sports bar did). 

Inflation has also impacted the values of gift cards sold.  $5 and $10 cards were far more popular in 2019, representing 11.2% and 16.7% of gift cards sold that year, respectively. During 2022, the sales of those values of cards dropped approximately 3% each, with sales of each representing 8.8% and 14.1% of total gift cards sold, respectively. On the other hand, sales of higher value gift cards increased to match, with sales of $50 growing from 12.2% to 16.3% and $100 gift cards getting a boost from 6% to 7.8%. As inflation has continued this year, we predict that higher value cards will increase in popularity. 

Finally, gift card sales this holiday season reveal that, 2 years out from the worst year on record, consumer tastes are changing. Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, the value of gift cards sold for QSRs dropped 3.2% compared to 2019 and 6.9% compared to 2021. But the value of cards for fine-dining restaurants has increased 9% compared to 2019 and by 3.7% as compared to 2021, indicating a building demand to revisit concepts with a sit-down model. Moreover, dollars spent per day for fine-dining gift cards during the holiday season is up 80% as compared to 2020’s holiday season, indicating the trends of the 2020 are receding. While there were variants of note in 2023, we predict the fine-dining resurgence will continue, while the value of cards sold at QSRs will hold approximately the same. 

So, what does this all mean for restaurants? Inflation has taken its toll on the American consumer, but as previous Paytronix resources have shown, loyalty offerings like gift cards are an effective shield against inflation. Moreover, the concepts that suffered the worst during the pandemic will continue their resurgence. Finally, the proliferation of digital gift cards shows that digital guest engagement is increasing in popularity and will likely continue to build in popularity. 

And of course, cross your fingers for good weather on December 23rd

Click the graphic to read the report

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Loyalty Program Tips According to Spinal Tap

November 3, 2023

Happy 11/3! In one week, it will be 11/11, AKA Nigel Tufnel Day. In order to share our love of England’s Loudest Band and Loyalty Programs, we’re going to share a few pointers on optimizing your brand’s loyalty program, straight from past webinars featuring the strategists on our Strategy & Analytics team. So whether you’ve been a fan of Spinal Tap since their days performing at the Electric Banana or you’re a brand seeking the best loyalty advice from the team who pioneered digital guest engagement, we’ve got some loyalty program pointers that will impress you with their punctuality.

Were you hoping for a detailed report on loyalty trends instead of tips on optimizing your loyalty program set to “Stonehenge?” Check out our Loyalty Report: 2023 for the biggest loyalty data release of the year.

  1. Disconnect from Dollars

Just remember, when you’re designing a loyalty program, use the correct units. Making a big thing out of these units is a good thing.

This drives the focus away from the dollars being spent and focuses guest attention on the rewards they are earning.

2. Get guests to their first reward, fast

It’s important to wow your customers with your loyalty program’s exuberance, raw power, and punctuality.

3. Small and infrequent is better than large and frequent

Rewards are like drummers. It’s better to have the reward come fast like an explosion or a bizarre gardening accident that is better left unsolved.

4. Design core for the 50th-90th percentile

You want to appeal to your core crowd? You can make your rewards program completely black.
Like so black that is can’t be any blacker.

Or you can target the 50th – 90th percentile of visitors. These frequent and semi-frequent visitors are the ones who drive loyalty programs and revenue, making them the key target.

5. Don’t give away too much; aim for 4-8% of core program value

To quote the greatest hit of Spinal Tap’s precursor, the Thamesmen:

“Stop wasting my time
You know what I want
You know what I need
Or maybe you don’t

Do I have to come right flat out and tell you everything?
Gimme some money, gimme some money”

Don’t spend your entire budget on the core program, save funds for promos within your program. If your core program is $1 = 1 point and a reward is given at 100 points then the reward should be around $4-8.

6. Finally, reward good behavior

Spinal Tap’s manager, Ian Faith, carries a cricket bat as a “totemistic thing, even though it has come in useful in a couple of situations.”

While we don’t recommend a good, solid piece of wood in your hands when you work with your guests, a softer solution is simpler: when guests demonstrate the behavior you want, reward them.

Good night Springton, there will be no encores! Though if you’re interested in learning more about running an effective loyalty program, check out our e-book on Revamping Your Loyalty Program or contact our Strategy & Analytics team to see how we can help. Rock on fellow Spinal Tap lovers!

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Twice Daily Drives Huge Results

October 31, 2023

At NACS 2023 Twice Daily’s Director of Marketing Eric Rush joined Paytronix Chief Revenue Officer Charles Gray on stage to discuss how the brand is taking off thanks to its Digital Guest Engagement program. The fast-growing brand launched made-to-order in all its locations after revamping its mobile app with Paytronix Online Ordering earlier in 2023, and now it’s leveraging Paytronix Strategy & Analytics to personalize the loyalty experience. Here’s what the audience learned. 

The economics of loyalty programs: ROI and buy-in go hand-in-hand.
Since revamping its mobile app in April, Twice Daily attributes more than 34% of checks to its loyalty program. The brand’s online ordering, enhanced with personalized loyalty segmentation, has grown 400% since January. When asked for the strategies behind those numbers, Rush talked about buy-in as the fuel.

“The stores with fully engaged employees have higher mobile ordering numbers and redemption rates. If you can get a store leader or district leader involved and really believing in the program, those will be your best stores,” Rush said. 
That begins with treating loyalty as a collective business decision, he said. “This isn’t a marketing program. If it feels like a marketing thing, then it’ll get treated like marketing things. And we know how that goes… But if it’s a company-wide program, then everybody gets in on it. When the VP of operations is talking about something, that’s when ears go up, and that’s what you need internally,” Rush said.

“We had a general manager conference in May. The CEO, CFO, CMO and VP of Marketing, all on stage, at some point, spoke about the loyalty program. Since then, we’ve seen loyalty penetration throughout our stores grow by four to five percent,” Rush said. 

With sugary snacks and cigarettes on the decline, loyalty programs transition customers to food service.

After Twice Daily launched made-to-order food services, it leveraged Paytronix Strategy & Analytics to send segmented food service offers to customers who had bought the same items in prepackaged form. 

“We are establishing ourselves as a food service offering that sells fuel, not a gas station that sells some sandwiches,” Rush said. “And making that switch is real hard. It takes time. The point of a loyalty program here is to convert people over to made-to-order food with segmentation.”

And thanks to Paytronix Mobile Experience Builder, Twice Daily offers customers the same customization and speedy communications they would receive in store, on their phone. 

Leverage vendor funding to acquire customers, segment to retain them.

Twice Daily leans on vendor-funded promotions to build its marketable database with offers that appeal to everyone. From there, customers follow a personalized nurturing flow that drives them to the critical third-visit, at which point customer lifetime value triples and their likelihood to visit reaches 88%.

“You have to lean on CPG vendors,” Rush said. “It’s crucial to getting [loyalty] off the ground.” Twice Daily is leveraging Paytronix reporting to provide vendors with the data they need and more in exchange for free items to reward customers. 

As Twice Daily “fills the funnel” of new customers, Rush explained the loyalty program grows more personalized and complex to keep customers engaged. “As we get further into our program and the data gets a little richer, we have the ability to segment out and start doing promotions that feel more unique to each guest,” Rush said. “From something like National Peanut Butter Lovers Day down to individual offers based on guest preference. You start broad and work your way down. As you get more data, you get smarter and artificial intelligence kicks in,” Rush said.

“And that leads to strong retention,” Gray added. “If a customer feels like an offer is unique to them, they are more likely to visit.”

Plan for an AI-Driven Future
With 1:1 campaigns and day-of-week segmentation to drive messaging engagement, Twice Daily is already leveraging artificial intelligence. But as the brand looks toward the future of its guest engagement strategy, Rush explained he hopes to use artificial intelligence to further personalize menus, loyalty offers, and email subject lines.

“We’re trying to get AI to do as much as possible, without replacing us,” Rush said. “Right now, we’re using day-of-week scores to send customers messages based on their opening times and days. Same with push-pull messages from the app. Eventually, I’d like to use AI to test subject lines.”

“And the other piece is the mobile ordering menu optimization based on what they’re already ordering. Like Amazon, I want my menu to look different than someone else’s menu. And that way, when we run promotions based on categories we know they’re shopping, that will drive a higher return.”

Learn how mobile apps can help you deliver your brand promise.

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