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What can banks learn from the food service industry?

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Technology
Tagged: , , ,

Lobster RisottoWhile on a recent business trip to attend a conference I noticed lines everywhere—airport security, cabs, hotel check-in, show tickets, restaurants. I was constantly waiting. I was really thankful that I don’t drink coffee after passing the Starbucks in my hotel every morning and seeing a line wrapped around the store and down the hallway. One of the conference presenters shared an estimate from Time Magazine that the average person spends two to five years of his or her lifetime waiting in lines. He claimed his business has found a way to give some of that time back while providing a highly customized experience for every consumer. Now that is an idea with legs.

Their business model for restaurants is simple: order ahead and pay in advance. No standing in line, no being put on hold to place a phone order and no waiting to pay when you pick up your food. How does this technology work? Customers use their device (mobile phone, tablet, PC, etc.) to place their order and pay via credit card, debit card or PayPal. Then the magic begins. Their algorithm takes numerous factors into consideration including; time of day, type of ingredients and orders already in the queue. Based on these factors restaurants are able to time their preparation so that every customer receives the hottest, freshest food without waiting.

The no waiting aspect of this technology is great but even more compelling is the ability to provide tailored promotions to better serve customers. The system provides customer level data that helps restaurants be more creative with driving loyalty, sending special offers and up-selling. Imagine being asked by your device if you would like “the usual” when ordering from your favorite restaurants. The technology uses a “better together” concept based on the popularity of what customers order as sides based on their main courses. This educated ordering flow has proven to be more successful through online sales than wait staff trying to up-sell in the restaurant. It’s automatic and doesn’t rely on someone having to remember to make the offer.

This is the first time the food service industry has had easy access to such valuable information because the data is now linked directly to a customer’s digital identity. Prior to that there was limited ability to capture customers’ preferences. On the other hand banks have had access to more consumer information than almost any other industry, yet they haven’t found a way to utilize it effectively. One banker at the conference exclaimed, “We have more data about our customers than Amazon and we don’t leverage it.” In fact, my colleague was made the same offer so many times by his bank he began preemptively declining it. There is a great opportunity for banks to strengthen their analytics to create better customer experiences by taking a page from this technology making strides in the food service industry.

If a customer has received the same offer a dozen times and said no on every occasion, analytics will help stop the madness and provide a more compelling offer. By incorporating data the bank already has into its cross-sell strategy, consumers can be presented with products based on their interests and financial behavior. Similar to the “better together” restaurant concept, banks have opportunities to compare what products are typically paired together by their customers and incorporate those into their selling process.

Admittedly banking products are vastly different than food. “Would you like a CD with your checking account?” doesn’t sound quite as appealing as adding a pear salad to your lobster risotto. However the concept of intelligent up-sell (or cross-sell) is highly applicable with some adaptations. A few banks have begun offering cross-sell and favorite selections (i.e. Mr. Smith always withdraws $100, so that option is listed first) on ATMs. This barely scratches the surface of what could be accomplished. Providing a personal touch to banking can delight customers, particularly if the interactions are perfectly tailored to their tastes.

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Karen Gordon

About Karen Gordon

Karen Gordon has worked in the marketing group at Zoot Enterprises for the past 8 years and has more than 20 years of experience in management and public relations. While earning her master’s degree she learned the importance of promoting an organization’s image and creating a positive buzz about its offerings. In her role at Zoot, Karen leads the company’s public relations program. When she’s not chasing down technology reporters you can find her on the nearest tennis court chasing fuzzy, yellow balls. Follow Karen on LinkedIn, or Twitter @karenrgordon.

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