Customers Are in Charge

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Today’s blog post is a part of a series that I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks related to what I learned at the Agilysys Inspire User Conference in Las Vegas, March 18-20, 2024.

I learned that consumers of all ages, ethnicities, and economic levels have embraced digital technology as a natural part of their everyday lives. Earning brand advocates who will sing your praises requires keeping these trends in mind when designing processes and investing in technology:

  • Technology has reset customer service expectations. Customers expect to be able to get what they want when they want it. And the technology that enables them to do this must be intuitive and reduce unnecessary effort.
  • Self-service options have created self-service customers. All age groups use self-service options if done well. Many are irritated if they see a line without a self-service option to avoid it.
  • Mobile-friendly experiences are a must. Mobile relationships are necessities, not extras. Virtually everyone has a smartphone connecting them to everything, all the time.

There’s a Colorado-based quick service restaurant (QSR) chain, founded in 2016, named Birdcall whose mission is to make natural foods accessible. It’s known for blending all-natural foods, superior hospitality and service, innovative art and design, and cutting-edge technology.

Guests are greeted by a friendly team member behind the counter who is available to answer questions, assist with ordering, or serve you a beer from one of several taps. For guests who placed orders in advance via computer or the Birdcall mobile app, they can simply collect their meal from one of the numbered bays corresponding to their name on a digital sign. Or guests have the option to place their order at one of the self-service kiosks. These kiosks provide multiple benefits:

  • Errors are reduced because guests input their preferences directly.
  • Sales may increase as guests choose upgrades and add-ons presented via on-screen displays that may have been overlooked on a large menu board behind the registers in a typical QSR environment. And the displays will always ask the question about upgrades, combos, and add-ons, whereas employees may omit these suggestions in face-to-face interactions while taking an order. One study found that customers spend a massive 30% more when ordering from a kiosk.
  • Productivity increases because the number of front-of-house employees is reduced, making the restaurant more profitable. This allows Birdcall to offer competitive prices on high-quality foods and contribute to local causes. I read that 1% of sales go back into the communities where Birdcall operates. (When I was in last month, $1 of every Fried Chicken Muffuletta sandwich was donated to The Morgan Adams Foundation, which funds kids’ cancer research.)
  • Customers’ intent to return/revisit may increase. 60% of customers are likely to revisit a restaurant with a self-service option, implying that this technology appeals to digital natives and older customers alike.

Birdcall recognizes that customers are in charge. It serves as a great example of a business that designs its processes and makes technology investments in alignment with its mission. This focus enables the company to exceed guests’ expectations, earn brand advocates, engage team members, and support the communities it serves.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.

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