Why Easy-to-Use Digital Experiences Can Make or Break Your Restaurant Loyalty Program

Photo of a person looking at a mobile phone, and we see them smiling, and a floating UI to their left showing an easy-to-use UX mobile app experience from Thanx

Nearly all brands want exciting digital experiences but not enough brands emphasize making those experiences as easy to use as possible for the customer. As marketing tools like apps and loyalty programs become table stakes, brands need other competitive advantages to earn effective engagement that drives revenue. It is clear that ease of use is where brands can differentiate to help grow customer lifetime value.

One such advantage is having a user-friendly loyalty program. According to a KPMG report, 61% of consumers globally agree that loyalty programs are too difficult to join or earn rewards from. For this reason, brands must make their loyalty programs as simple as possible for customers in order to retain them and increase their customer lifetime value.

So, what’s the key to success with loyalty programs? Make it as simple as possible to join and even easier to stay engaged. As a result, your brand can ease dependencies on expensive discounts often required to get customers to take those burdensome extra steps, adding up to significant bottom line savings.

Former Yum! Brands CEO, Greg Creed (and Thanx board member) coined the phrase “easy beats better” in his latest book and it summarizes the importance of convenience in loyalty programs — even the most sophisticated apps should be easy to use so that customers don’t face extra hurdles while ordering food.

Make it easy to order direct and be a loyal customer

Both online ordering experiences and loyalty programs must be convenient for customers. In the plight against third party, making sure your customers order directly is key to retaining customers, the data that helps power more personalized marketing, and commission dollars. Third party delivery channels invest huge amounts of time, money, and resources to make their interfaces easy to use so customers will order through them without a second thought. Brands must strive to make their own ordering experience effortless through partnerships with online ordering providers and CRM-integrated experiences.

The more difficult your app or online ordering experience, the more you’ll have to give away or discount to drive enrollment and first party ordering. This can be very expensive for restaurants, and unnecessary for customers who were planning to make a purchase anyway.

Instead, if your loyalty program is effortless to enroll in or better yet, as simple as placing that first purchase online, and a breeze to use, there’s less need for an incentive. Customers will be more likely to return to purchase directly, either through an app or web ordering, when they know they will earn progress toward perks and the ordering and process will be simple.

So, how can restaurants make their loyalty program even easier to engage with? Below are a few suggested improvements to focus on to improve user experience:

  • Use a passwordless login. One of the biggest headaches of a digital ordering experience is having to type in a password, or forgetting your password altogether. 
  • Provide an easy sign-in link. Modern user experiences skip passwords altogether using more secure methods of authentication like two-factor authentication. 
  • Offer one-click re-ordering. Many customers like to order the same things over and over. Make it easy for them to re-order with just one click or tap, and save their past orders. 
  • Avoid administrative hurdles up front. Your customers are hungry. Put your menu front and center and only after they have completed their basket ask for information like name and location. 
  • Ample modifiers. Personalization shouldn’t be limited to your marketing approach. Customers need to be able to personalize and customize their orders based on preferences, dietary restrictions, etc. Make it easy for guests to add modifiers to their order otherwise they may go to third party channels who already do. 
  • Suggest one-tap add-ons. Create opportunities for incremental revenue, such as “add avocado for $1” with one click or tap, or “add on a dessert or milkshake” within the ordering window.
  • Don’t depend on an app. Delivering ease of use to customers also means making it easy for them to engage on their preferred channels. Loyalty should not depend on an app to enroll or engage on every purchase. With only app engagement, loyalty penetration will almost always reach an asymptote. Brands that don’t require an app see loyalty capture rates of 60%+.
  • Personalization is key. Take convenience one step further by making your experience not just easy but easy for the specific individual. The same KPMG report shows that 60% of consumers say they are loyal because they feel a personal connection to a company. Use the data to make messaging and offers more aligned with the customer’s habits and needs.

Overall, it’s clear that creating an easier loyalty program experience for customers is key for driving engagement and increasing revenue for restaurants — sometimes being easier beats being better!