Serving Up Loyalty Programs
"It's going to be a huge war. It'll be strictly IT versus IT."
No, that's not a quote from the futurist masterminds at the Pentagon or from the latest sci-fi space-battle flick; it's the way Ruby Tuesday CTO Nick Ibrahim describes the coming race between his casual dining chain and its competitors. And a big focus of it—strengthening customer loyalty programs—makes a lot of sense for many businesses out there.
Ibrahim was talking about his strategy utilizing IT to boost performance in each of the chain's 900 or so existing eateries. While the company had an aggressive growth strategy in recent years, it's turned to operational efficiency, and technology is playing a big part. (For more on the specifics, check out this profile of Ibrahim's efforts.)
With a new fiscal year beginning in June, Ibrahim is focusing his efforts on bulking up CRM and business intelligence, looking to mine every bit of customer information to better understand their experiences at Ruby Tuesday. And he hopes that data will help him bulk up chain's customer loyalty programs.
The economic situation plays into that strategy. While loyalty programs aren't a panacea to negative forecasts, they can do a lot to drive loyalty and keep people coming back. And in age where dining options seem endless, zeroing in on customer preferences and behaviors—and shaping a strategy around them—might be the best way to eat up the competition.
But every company should have a dedicated customer focus. The reality is, they don't; and for those that do, it's often a cookie-cutter program, not one that caters to specific customer preferences.
We'll be writing more about this in the near future. So help us out: Tell us how your companies are using IT to better understand—and reward—customer behavior. Are you making new investments for this? Or is this something that's not a high priority?