QSR Loyalty Strategies for Digitally Enabling Your Brand

By: Brandon Solnit


In recent years, brands in all industries have seen a major shift in consumer behavior. Now more than ever, consumers prefer to have the option to shop and engage with a brand through digital platforms, like mobile devices, in addition to going to a physical store location. And with a shift towards digital experiences, it is crucial for all brands, no matter the industry, to be digitally enabled.  

When brands go through a digital transformation, there is not one solution more powerful for creating exceptional and successful digital enablement strategies than loyalty platforms. Loyalty has become crucial to brand operations because it establishes a digitally enhanced relationship with guests and helps operators drive foot traffic and sales.  

From our latest webinar, “How Zaxby’s Unified Tech Approach is Creating a Rewarding Guest Experience & Company Growth”, Mike Nettles, Zaxby’s Chief Digital and Technology Officer, describes the strategy they took to digitally enable and digitally enhance their operations. Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinar: 

Keys To Digital Enablement

Own Your Own Loyalty Experience

When establishing a digital enablement strategy, it is crucial for brands to create a loyalty platform tailored and designed to match the brand and the customers they serve. According to Nettles, “Punchh was unique in their ability to kind of meet me where I wanted to be.” With Punchh, brands like Zaxby’s are empowered to own their path and choose the loyalty strategy that harmonizes with business and customer goals. “I’m following my own playbook, and I’m going to build my own digital apps,” said Nettles. “I want to own that experience. I want to build my own digital platform, but I want Punchh to play a big role in it,” explained Nettles. And Punchh has done just that for Zaxby’s by creating a branded white-label app that is simple to use, intuitively designed, and fits the brand and its customers. Moreover, Punchh’s very rich APIs and SDK integration model have allowed Zaxby’s to do exactly what Nettles envisioned: create a unique and personal loyalty app experience.  

Build 1:1 Relationships through Personalized Loyalty

Generic discounts, impersonalized messaging, and lackluster engagement no longer excite and satisfy modern loyalty guests. Consumers today expect a tailored and personalized loyalty experience, whether it is engaging with them on their preferred channel or providing personalized discounts and offers around the meals they love.  

Zaxby’s fully understood this shift towards personalized experiences by “treating the guest like the royalty they are,” said Nettles. No matter the brand or industry, it is crucial to be able “to talk to [the guest] as [the guest], not as Mike or somebody who is like [the guest], but actually having the ability to curate and offer the guest an engaging level of offers and communications that kind of fits their communication preferences, their dial, and the way they want to access the brand.” 

To Zaxby’s and QSR brands alike, it is essential to provide a loyalty experience crafted entirely around the individual guest, no matter what tier of loyalty they may be. Loyalty is about understanding the guest’s preferences, providing automated perks, and knowing who they are before they show up at a physical location. “In our industry, you do not know somebody is a loyalty guest until they identify themselves as a loyalty guest,” said Nettles. “Digital experiences have changed that. I can now start to know who the guest is before they show up to the store.”  

Tackle Demand by Leveraging Loyalty Data

The final aspect of digital enablement is to leverage the extensive customer data loyalty platforms, like Punchh, provides. And Zaxby’s has found immense value by diving deep into its customer data to understand what drives the biggest demand.  

The most important aspect to Zaxby’s operations is “maintaining that first-party relationship with the guest through an enriching and really activated loyalty program,” said Nettles. “The real change management that comes with digital transformation is all that data about the guest behavior. Start looking at everything you do through the lens of the guest, the guest’s behavior, and what the guest is doing. That is really taking all that data and developing new insights, new skills, new menu options, and even new technical innovations based upon what the guest is telling us with their behavior,” explained Nettles.  

Leveraging loyalty data is crucial to creating the ideal loyalty experience because it helps brands, like Zaxby’s, understand guest behavior and deliver personalized experiences tailored to the guest’s wants and needs. “This is an industry that, now more than ever before, needs to leverage first-party data,” said Nettles. Moreover, Nettles explains that customer data is not just leveraged for understanding demand and used as a point of differentiation. However, calling out the data helps brands understand what challenges they may have and assists with finding possible enhancements to operationally remove some of that friction.  

Digital experiences are the new norm for brand operations, and it is crucial, now more than ever, for brands to be digitally enabled. Having the proper solutions in place, like a loyalty platform, helps brands ensure they can connect and engage with guests wherever they may be to provide a similar engaging, consistent experience as they would have in stores.  

Interested in learning more about Punchh’s hyper-personalized loyalty platform to jump-start your brand’s digital transformation? Visit us at Punchh.com or request a demo today! 

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