Archive for the “Loyalty” Category

Keep it Human: Communicating During COVID-19

Communication with guests is always important, but during times of change, transition or challenge, it’s paramount. With so many businesses having to totally rethink their standard approach due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Paytronix team has compiled a list of communication best practices.

Exercise empathy

This is a scary time for everyone – including your guests. Make sure they know you’re a brand they can trust by being transparent about your operational changes, safety precautions, and closures or new operating hours.

Just about every brand out there is sending messages conveying what they’re doing to mitigate the virus’ spread, so ask yourself what information you really need to share. For example, everyone is washing their hands more now, so focus instead on what your brand is doing differently that will foster a sense of comfort and trust in your guests. That can be as simple as telling guests you’re closing down in the interest of their health as HuHot Mongolian Grill did.

As a rule of thumb show an awareness of the struggle many people are going through, welcome feedback from your guests, even if it means asking for it, and above all, stay true to your brand.

Keep your guests informed 

If you’ve shut down operations, make sure your guests know about it, and be sure to explain why. Consider adding a footer to your emails or a banner on your website to keep them updated about closures and plans to reopen.

If you’re still open, remind your guests of your hours, which locations are in operation, and how they can place an order. Prioritize online ordering with hyperlinks or banners on your site. Make sure they are in a bold, obvious place, and consider giving discounts or double rewards points for takeout and delivery orders.

Be sure to let guests know about any additional services you’ve added to minimize contact, like contactless delivery or curbside pick-up. If you have a dynamic concept, consider how you can continue to provide value in nontraditional ways. Host, a company that offers bartenders for hire, has pivoted to sending regular “Drink of the Week” cocktail recipes to its subscribers via email. They’re still providing a service while tailoring their approach to fit within social distancing guidelines. 

Practice and promote social responsibility 

Guests want to support businesses they consider socially responsible – a trend demonstrated through the rise of farm-to-table restaurants. At a time when many are struggling, guests will appreciate – and remember – the brands that supported their employees, communities, and guests when it mattered most.

Charitable donations are also a great way to support the community while simultaneously promoting your own brand, without appearing tone-deaf. For example, New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees announced he would donate $5 million through partnerships with restaurants like Jimmy John’s and Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day to children on meal programs, seniors and families in need.

That said, be careful not to appear you’re taking advantage of the crisis. If you’re going to offer a discount, don’t make the coupon code “COVID” or “coronavirus.” Keep in mind that your guests are struggling too – provide comfort, service, or distraction from the daily anxiety, but don’t pretend it’s not happening.

Suspend or tweak untimely campaigns

Email and marketing campaigns are often set to recur or are planned in advance. Don’t forget to review the campaigns you had scheduled to avoid awkward messages, like visit challenges, missed visit campaigns, and We-Miss-You reengagements. These messages can be postponed until they are appropriate to send.

Campaigns that will still be relevant – like birthday rewards – can be adapted by including accommodations for guests who cannot redeem them now. Let them know you’ve remembered them and are working on ways to provide their reward at the appropriate time.

Extend reward expirations and reevaluate tier structures

It’s important that guests don’t feel penalized for not visiting during the pandemic. Communicate to guests that their points and rewards won’t expire during the shutdown.

Dunkin’ Brands did this with a simple email to its guests, assuring them that yes, their free drink rewards will be available later, while maintaining a supportive and friendly tone: “We’ve got your back.”

For programs that reward guests in tiers based on their annual spending, consider adjusting tier definitions, extending status or giving guests a boost to make up for lost time.

Spotlight Series: Brands Spreading Positivity During Difficult Times

Throughout this crisis, brands are searching for a way to maintain their strong customer relationships. A number have lessons to teach us all as they work to foster a deep emotional connection with their community. Here, twice a week, we’ll spotlight specific brands that are spreading positivity.

Thursday, March 26, 2020 Spotlight: The Pasta Bowl

The Pasta Bowl, a chain of neighborhood pasta shops, has maintained its fun and friendly tone throughout its customer communications. Still, it is serious about addressing the current environment. Take this snippet from a recent communication:

“Lots to be frustrated about these days. Lots to disagree and argue about too, it seems. We can all agree on one thing, though: we ALL wish none of this was going on.”

To address this undeniable truth, The Pasta Bowl has taken a different approach to uplifting its customers by collecting its stores’ playlists and sharing them through Spotify and Apple Music. Sometimes sitting down and throwing on some tunes can help people relax, or maybe even validating their feelings by listening to lyrics that resonate with them. Maybe a few will break out and dance! 

To learn what other creative brands are doing to build customer relationships during this time, connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and check out our site for more COVID-19 related resources.

The Apple Music Playlist

Panera Enters the Subscription Game

Panera Bread recently became the latest big-name restaurant brand to enter one of the hottest segments of the loyalty market: subscriptions. We’re proud to be part of that launch, as the program is built on our loyalty platform.

At $8.99 per month, the MyPanera Coffee subscription gives customers unlimited coffee or hot tea for the price of about four cups of coffee. This program exemplifies how smart, forward-thinking brands are embracing subscription models.

Subscription programs tend to operate in one of these three ways:

  • Recurring payments – As with the Panera program, subscribers pay for a given time period. Cancellation can occur at any time.
  • Lump-sum payment with time-bound usage – The industry standard is Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass, which allows unlimited meals for nine weeks. Limiting the number of passes sold provides customers with a sense of exclusivity.
  • Lump-sum payment with limited times or items – An example is the Grill Pass offered by HuHot Mongolian Grill. Last summer, loyalty members could spend $50, $100, or $200 to buy 5, 11, or 25 meals. 

Subscriptions enable brands to drive incremental revenue while letting customers prepurchase their favorite items at a discounted rate. Those who already buy four cups of coffee a week at Panera will find that the coffee program pays for itself. But it’ll also drive them back at times that they may not have normally stopped in, providing opportunities for additional sales. Once consumers have invested in a program, the act of buying another item, like a cookie or a snack, seems less of a burden.

Clients that run subscription programs report high attachment rates and upselling. Panera achieved these results by following the three key steps for implementing a subscription program:

  1. Create a loyal following. With a long-standing loyalty program, Panera has spent years developing its base.
  2. Pick the right model. By understanding its customers and their habits, Panera had the information it needed to build a program that reached its best and most loyal customers.
  3. Communicate the value. Since the monthly price is the equivalent of just a few cups of coffee, the value came through loud and clear in Panera’s messaging.

Whether it’s movies from Netflix, pet supplies from BarkBox, or clothes from Stitch Fix, consumers are increasingly receiving goods and services through subscriptions. Restaurants have a great opportunity to capitalize on this trend. To learn more, check out our on-demand webinar, “How Restaurants Can Take Advantage of the Subscription Business Model.”

Paytronix Loyaltees: Honoring the best of the best in restaurant and c-store marketing

Every year, Paytronix honors the clients that are doing amazing things on the PXS platform with the Loyaltees Awards. It honors the brands using Paytronix to drive truly innovative marketing and loyalty programs.

Last year Caribou Coffee earned recognition for a program that brought together Paytronix software and services to build promotional strategies that used historical data to refine and improve results. Bruster’s Ice Cream, meanwhile, earned kudos for a program that converted traditional punch cards into a modern loyalty program that not only reached 16% penetration in six months, but also drove an increase in traffic during its traditional shoulder seasons of September and January.  Also on the list was Break Time for implementing a monthly rewards challenge that boosted customer spend by more than 25% at its convenience stores.

[…]