I almost spit out my coffee laughing after reading this Article from BetaKit “To Encourage Mobile Payments Certain Restaurants ban Credit Cards..” .. to push consumers into LevelUp.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could force your customers to buy something? or to sign up for your loyalty program? I could just imagine eating Dinner at my favorite NY Steak House (Bobby Van’s) and being told you can’t leave until you let us know who you are, register your phone number, credit card and install our app. You will also be forced to receive our endless e-mails on deals and loyalty and you also must have our app installed on your phone. If you delete the installed app … we have your phone number and will call and SMS until you put it back. Wow.. what a wonderful consumer experience.
Restaurants in general are challenged with loyalty programs. US Commerce data indicate that there are 494,000 restaurants in the US with total sales of $632B in 2011, of that $216B is for full service restaurants with the majority of restaurants (472,000 out of 494,000) operating with under 500 employees (independents and small chains).
All businesses are challenged with executing loyalty programs. My last blog on LevelUp outlined their revenue challenge as a loyalty provider. Capturing the customer name is just one challenge… creating “Value”, “preference” and managing the overall customer relationship is another. My believe is that the relationship in restaurants is very personal, and not automated. Establishments I frequent are either because of the owner and staff, or because my friends are there. When I travel it is either because of convenience or rating. Of course my Wife and I do say “lets go someplace different” about 20% of the time… but this is not loyalty.
There is MUCH to be gained by Restaurants through CRM DATA. Where else do my customers go? Data which would help drive business change: should I adjust menu? seating? music?… There are few CRM providers in restaurants (the closest thing I’ve found is Fishbowl, serving 45,000 of the top chain locations).
Banning credit cards… FUBAR.