As more and more Americans choose to dine out as opposed to preparing meals, restaurant loyalty has become even more significant than in years past. Dining establishments of all shapes and sizes are constantly on the hunt for the newest and most effective methods of establishing this loyalty, and Excentus—best known for its Fuel Rewards and fuelperks! programs—may have found the answer in its latest report.
 
As suggested by the title, “A Recipe for Restaurant Loyalty Success: Embedding Mobile and Relevant Rewards into the Dining-Out Experience” explores the benefits of building loyalty offerings around the mobile platform. As restaurants become increasingly willing to engage with customers via the mobile space, customers have come to expect a mobile experience that not only allows them accomplish what they need, but also offers a frictionless process while doing so.
 
“The mobile channel has a profound impact on the dining experience,” Megan Flynn, Executive Vice President of Program Development, Brand & Communications for Excentus, which operates the Fuel Rewards® program, told Loyalty360. “Smartphones have fundamentally changed how consumers interact with restaurants and brands. Today’s diners immediately open a mobile browser or app to find nearby restaurants, check online reviews, read mobile-optimized menus, examine prices, search for promotions or offers, snag a reservation, communicate with friends about where to meet, and even post reviews and photos of their experiences.”
 
“As a result, easy-to-use mobile capabilities must be built into nearly every aspect of restaurant operations – from marketing and customer service to tablet-powered ordering capabilities and loyalty programs,” Flynn continued. “That’s particularly true for restaurants that want to continue to attract new customers and younger customers – because each generation is more mobile-savvy and open to mobile technology than the one preceding it. In the past year alone, the accelerated roll-out of mobile wallets is turning diners’ smartphones into dual-purpose payment mechanisms and loyalty program memberships - simply by linking a payment card to the wallet and rewards program.”
 
Some of the most popular loyalty programs in the world owe much of their success to the mobile experience. Starbucks continues to shine in this respect, in spite of the unpopular changes made to the program earlier this year. Chili’s and Red Robin have also excelled in mobile engagement, even taking it a step further: the chains were among the first to adopt tabletop tablets that allow customers order refills and even pay the bill, saving precious time for diners on the move.
 
Mobile loyalty programs have already proven to be a mammoth development in the space: the report found that half of U.S. consumers regularly use mobile devices to redeem rewards or deals, while almost a third have used them to pay the bill.
 
The smartphone phenomenon has pervaded almost all aspects of life today, and the platform is a perfect fit for brands trying to build customer loyalty. The newest report out of Excentus places an exclamation point on this concept, and demonstrates how far the programs have come, as well as how much they’ll continue to advance in coming years.
 

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