This article is part of a series in partnership with ISG, a leading global technology research and IT advisory firm.
The digital natives of Gen Z have spurred appification and new digital strategies like few generations before them. One of the most significant benefits of this new attitude is that these new channels generate more data than we have ever had access to. Along with other data sources like IoT devices, social networks, websites, ordering platforms, and more, quick-service restaurants (QSRs) can use this information to create insights that can optimize operations, improve marketing, update products, and more.
Using analytics to optimize operations
Harnessing data allows QSRs to optimize their operations and strategies. QSRs can leverage data from past audits, years of sales information, and other sources that may have been sitting inert for years. Depending on AI and automation, modern tools can leverage this information quickly, generating insights without the labor, which may have made analysis too laborious in years past.
New models allow QSRs to identify and address workflow inefficiencies across multiple business areas. Data and information are key in identifying the existing problems in the QSR enterprise landscape. They will help decide how embracing new technology can address gaps and optimize operations. QSRs can take advantage of data and analytics to enhance, optimize, and create value in the following aspects:
- Optimize processes such as inventory purchasing, menu pricing, and delivery routes.
- Enhance staff scheduling and performance.
- Streamline order and queue management.
- Track equipment performance, food quality, and safety.
- Enhance support for market analysis and expansion planning.
- New customer support allows for better feedback, engagement, and loyalty programs.
Of note is how this technology can generate predictive insights, offering information on where the market is heading and what trends customers are beginning to move towards. Being able to anticipate this kind of demand helps a restaurant pivot quickly and move before its competitors do.
ISG data suggests that companies are aggressively pursuing optimization. In a market-wise cost optimization survey from 2023, ISG found that 93% of respondents currently have a dedicated cost optimization program in place.
Analyzing customer interactions through multiple channels creates a new avenue into how they interact with QSRs. Mobile apps, online orders, loyalty programs, and social media interactions are only a few touchpoints that create insights into customer behaviors, preferences, and market trends. Companies that do not engage in these channels leave valuable information on the table.
This information can influence how a restaurant tailors its service and engages customers. Insights drawn from customer interactions can better drive informed decisions such as:
- Develop new menu items that appeal to larger groups.
- Study specific ingredients and understand how changing a recipe may impact nutrition or sales.
- Cater to an increased interest in personalization by tailoring service to individual preferences.
- Purchase patterns, localized flavors, routines, health facts, and taste-related information can help drive QSR innovations and optimizations to stay competitive and attract new customers.
- The dining experience can be enhanced based on customer feedback, employee surveys, IoT device data feeds, devices providing a contactless experience, and more.
These sources of information also have implications for how companies interact with customers on a marketing level through:
- Customer-centric strategies: Analysis of customer interactions can help inform marketing, allowing the creation of a campaign that directly targets the channels that a specific audience is using or items they have a particular interest in. In some cases, restaurants may be able to generate promotions aimed at specific individuals by using advanced algorithms that study their purchasing history.
- Direct feedback: All channels—particularly social media and customer-facing applications—create new ways for customers to voice their opinions to restaurant stakeholders. Data analytics creates an opportunity to develop in-depth feedback so that instead of anecdotal accounts, it can be factored into trends and influence actionable insights.
- Drive brand building and awareness: A genuine understanding of customer needs helps create a positive brand perception and strengthens customer engagement. QSRs can increase brand visibility and attract new customers by consistently sharing visually appealing content, engaging with followers, and utilizing targeted advertising. Creating personalized combinations using branded hashtags can generate a buzz and develop a sense of community around the brand.