The CX solution that’s saving an industry
If there was an industry that took more than its fair share of hits during the pandemic it was the hospitality industry. Snap lockdowns, staff shortages and skyrocketing supply costs all played their part in bringing cafes, restaurants and venues of all shapes and sizes to their knees.
And while patronage was always going to rebound, the longer-term economic impact was harder to gauge. On a recent trip to Brisbane I had a conversation with Adam Flaskas, founder of Howard Smith Wharves (HSW), a multi-venue lifestyle and entertainment precinct that opened in the river city around three years ago. We were talking about the impact of the pandemic, the way their team had pivoted (promise that’s the last time I’ll use that word), and how technology had helped.
The HSW precinct introduced the me&u mobile ordering system in 2021, partly as a response to a general community desire for more ‘low-touch’ customer service solutions. But what caught my attention was Adam’s comment that the system had seen average customer spend increase by around 30%, a number that was confirmed in me&u’s own data reflecting the wider industry. Even more intriguingly, competitor app Mr Yum was also reporting a 512% increase in tipping nationally.
Which all means people were actually tipping more for less face-to-face customer service.
When we talk with clients about CX it's often about removing points of friction in the customer journey. And the customer/waiter dynamic presents a perfect example of this. For every instance of attentive service where the waiter seems to know what you want before you do, we can all probably recall a gazillion occasions where we felt like we were interrupting someone’s social life by asking them for some cracked pepper.
The mobile ordering example, and the quite staggering returns it’s driving, works on a number of levels. It taps into the consumer desire for instant gratification and ultra-convenience that our mobiles have played an increasingly important role in providing. It removes the awkwardness of interaction we experience in many customer service situations, ultimately empowering the customer to take charge. And as we can clearly see from the numbers mentioned above it means they’re spending more as a result.
It also provides choice – some of us actually want to talk to a real person. And the presence of a solution like this means a customer service team can focus their efforts on those who want a higher degree of engagement or support.
Thus, it’s also worth reflecting here that while this CX outcome holds true in pub or casual dining environment, where we’re more focused on the social interaction than the service, in a restaurant setting, we want something different. We want to be dazzled by the sommelier’s wine knowledge or the fine art of attentive but unobtrusive table service.
The desired outcomes are different, and so the CX strategy and MarTech solutions required will be fit for purpose with the database and POS solutions that match the goal.
CX isn’t one size fits all – it needs to reflect the way you want your customers to feel after engaging with your brand. Which is why AFFINITY casts a wider net when it comes to looking for what aspects of an organisation’s operations are affecting broader business outcomes. The intersection of your people and processes with technology, and even data, all have a part to play in delivering an optimal customer experience. And that’s just the entrée.
What are the friction points in your customer experience? If you can’t identify them, or you know them, but aren’t sure how to fix them, we’d love to provide an AFFINITY perspective. Get in touch with us via Luke@affinity.ad
Better input always leads to greater outcomes
Subscribe to OutThink, the AFFINITY ThoughtReport
21st April 2022
21st February 2022
15th February 2022