Online food ordering is a rapidly growing industry, with a wide range of companies offering services to consumers around the world. Many traditional restaurants and food service providers have also begun offering online ordering and delivery services to stay competitive and meet the changing needs of consumers.
Loyalty programs and order ahead apps are two separate but related concepts that businesses are using to attract and retain customers in today’s digital age. Combining these two strategies can be a powerful way to increase customer loyalty and drive sales for businesses of all types.
Whenever I am ordering food from a café or restaurant, I like to use an app to submit my order. Below are the three key reasons why:
- Convenience: I can place the order from anywhere, at any time, and can then pick up the food at a convenient time and location. This eliminates the need to wait in long lines or spend time on the phone speaking to someone to place an order.
- Timesaving: Order ahead apps save me time, as I can place an order in advance and avoid having to wait for my food to be prepared when I arrive at the restaurant. This is especially useful during peak hours when wait times can be long.
- Increased efficiency: Restaurants tend to improve their efficiency by streamlining the ordering process – I notice a reduction in errors and a faster service.
Recently, on two separate occasions, I ordered food from Mad Mex via their app and I didn’t experience convenience, timesaving, or increased efficiency. As I will only be talking about my in-store experience, I won’t be talking about the benefits of Mad Members – Mad Mex’s loyalty program. However, my fellow colleagues, Fed and Scott, have written about the benefits in a previous article.
What’s taking so long?
On both occasions, I arrived at Mad Mex in Sydney CBD during the middle of the lunchtime rush hour. I noticed a queue of at least 10-15 people, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to use the Mad Mex app to order my food. The worst-case scenario I was expecting, would be getting my food shortly after the person who I would have been lined up behind. However, fast forward 10 minutes and I’m only just being handed my food. Whilst waiting for my food I was curious to see how long customers lining up had to wait for their food. From the moment they entered the queue through to leaving with their food, most customers were only waiting 2-3 minutes.
Member vs non-members
Loyalty programs are implemented for customers who have signed up to participate in the program because they are rewarded for their loyalty to a particular brand or business. Non-members, on the other hand, are customers who have not enrolled in the program and are not receiving any rewards or benefits for their loyalty.
From my experience with Mad Mex, it seems alarming that non-members are prioritised over their members. Members should not be disadvantaged for using the Mad Mex app to “skip the queue and order ahead”. How do I know that that the customers in the queue weren’t members? Because at the point of sale no customers were scanning a Mad Members barcode. I also noticed that the program wasn’t promoted once at the point of sale to any customers.
Members are unlikely to be more engaged with the brand than non-members if this is common practice throughout the stores. As loyalty consultants, we know members engaging with a brand that operates a successful loyalty program where they are valued as a member, are more likely to make repeat purchases, refer friends and family, and leave positive reviews.
The frontline staff at Mad Mex can be valuable ambassadors for Mad Members. By educating customers, providing exceptional service, encouraging repeat visits, and collecting feedback, they can help to build Mad Members and drive business success.
Training staff on the rewards program is essential to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to promote and manage the program effectively. The fact that the rewards program wasn’t being promoted could be one of two things:
- A training gap with staff and as a result they aren’t confident talking about the rewards program with customers.
- Staff are not committed to promote the rewards program. If staff understand the benefits of the rewards program, there isn’t any excuse to not promote the rewards program – that is part of providing exceptional service to customers. Management could consider staff incentives for promoting the rewards program.
I believe Mad Mex has two areas where they can improve their rewards program – getting staff engaged with the program and start valuing members over non-members.
As a result of improving those two areas, Mad Mex should see an increase in member base and members will be more engaged with the rewards program and they are going to deliver far more value than one-off customers.