More Mobile Myths Debunked: What’s Keeping Restaurants from Implementing Mobile Guest Engagement in their Operations?

By : Andy Sirmon

Previously, we explored some of the “myths” surrounding mobile guest engagement, and how these myths can sometimes impact operators’ strategies, particularly in rationalizing why they aren’t implementing a mobile guest engagement solution presently.


After digging deeper, however, it became apparent that taking advantage of this significant omni-channel consumer trend can positively impact a brand’s guest engagement, and ultimately their profits.


Whether examining the technology systems currently in place, evaluating the organizational structure of the business, or assessing the impact to both the operation and their guests, restaurant operators may initially find reasons to not pursue a mobile guest engagement strategy at this time. Interestingly enough, operators may find that these too are “myths”, and with the right amount of preparation and planning, they can successfully implement a mobile guest engagement solution that will drive increased consumer interactions and ultimately higher average check values and more frequent visits.


Here are a few more “mobile myths” we’ve identified and debunked that can help you as you navigate the world of mobile guest engagement.

  • “I already have a card-based loyalty system, and don’t really see any reason why I should add mobile capabilities.”  


While your loyalty cards may seemingly work for your brand now, in reality they have become outdated in the eyes of your guests. Loyalty cards are going the way of the dinosaur – swiping a card to earn rewards and viewing accrued points on a receipt are becoming increasingly passé (and a whole lot less seamless) in an omni-channel world.


In fact, according to the 2016 Mobile Consumer Report, 66% of consumers would have a more positive opinion of a loyalty program if they could store and access information on their smartphone in a mobile wallet app.


Why? Consumers want to take advantage of the information and greater interactivity that mobile offers; the 2016 Bond Loyalty Report states that more than 50% of consumers are interested in using their mobile device to check point balances, redeem reward points, find a location, and browse reward options. Loyalty cards by their nature can’t offer those capabilities, so as your customers move to mobile, you should too.


Get prepared now to transition your loyalty program beyond a physical card and into a world of digital interaction.

  • “I don’t have the systems in place to effectively launch a mobile experience.”  


When looking at mobile guest engagement, it’s important to take a look at your point-of-sale system and determine if it is truly a platform that can enable the differentiating experience you want to provide to your guests.


What does a platform mean? Unlike a traditional point of sale, a Platform of Sale supports a continuously growing number of channels – such as mobile – and offers a consistency in experiences. For example, consumers desire consistency in their experience whether at the counter, at the table, or on a mobile device.


Delivering on that requires a common configuration, centralized real-time transaction processing, and an ability to accommodate third party integrations through the cloud. Remember, because of mobile technology, your guests are always connected. This really puts consumers in control of their experiences, which forces operators to re-think how they need to engage with their guests.


To effectively implement mobile guest engagement capabilities, and in order to remain competitive, you probably want to ask a few questions about your current system. Can you transform your operations from a traditional, fixed point-of-sale? Does your current system embrace mobile and cloud capabilities across all touchpoints and devices? If not, perhaps your POS platform is the right place to start this transformation journey.

  • “I don’t know how all the different parties in my organization will be impacted, and I’m not sure the best way to navigate the project plan with them.”


Mobile guest engagement isn’t just a marketing initiative. Nor is it an Ops thing. And it shouldn’t fall squarely on your IT department’s shoulders either. Rather, a well-executed strategy is going to impact different functions in your organization in different ways.


Developing a cross-function team to address different impact points at the onset of developing your strategy is key. Make sure all parties are in agreement with the experiences your brand will offer your guests, and then collaborate on implementation, staff training and testing schedules.


By coordinating cross-functionally on the front end, you help ensure that the mobile engagement experience is seamless for your customers, whether ordering, redeeming a reward, or picking up their food in the restaurant.

  • “Introducing new engagement methods will be disruptive to my operations.” Next up: We’ll take a look at some of the operational impacts you may encounter by implementing mobile guest engagement, and how you can best prepare to address them.


In addition to the upfront preparation, you also need to plan for how you’ll roll out your new mobile capabilities – both to your customers and in the restaurant itself. Launching a mobile app will have impacts, but preparing for them in advance will help mitigate potential operational disruptions that could occur in your restaurant.


What are some of the things you should be on the lookout for, and how can you prepare? We’ll look at this more in-depth in our next blog post.


Next up:


We’ll take a look at some of the operational impacts you may encounter by implementing mobile guest engagement, and how you can best prepare to address them.


Andy Sirmon

NCR Hospitality

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Andy is a passionate marketer dedicated to helping make every day easier for restaurant operators. Here, Andy shares his insights on the restaurant industry and how disruptive innovation is transforming the way restaurants do business.