Since the early days of civilisation, businesses have continued to grapple with one question: “How to create an experience for the consumer which the consumer will value and choose them over a competitor? ” Leading fast food brands of the country shared their experiences and views on this ever consuming issue at the recently concluded FGFI 2014. The panelists covered the various elements involved in creating this wow experience, which expectedly so cannot be “standardized” and needs to be tailored to the consumer. Also delivering this unique experience becomes a huge challenge as the chains expand across various geographies and cultural zones in India. Finally what value a consumer needs today from a brand or a product might change tomorrow!!
There is a basic hygiene factor that every food chain, business needs to deliver. This is ensuring that the basic service or product promised to the consumer is delivered exceedingly well. This the core of the brand experience and no matter what other frills you add to your services, brands cannot compromise on this value proposition.
The periphery includes the store layout, lighting, colours, quality of the products, timely delivery, and hot food. The wow factors, however, are much harder to deliver since it needs to focus on the human touch aspect of the consumer experience. These need to delivered by the fast food service brands through their customer touch points, through engagement programs and by offering unique products experiences. Pizza hut delivers this by singing rap birthday songs, encouraging consumers to “ring the bell” when they are delighted with the experience and by providing handcrafted balloon figures to the young patrons. These are experiences which are memorable and etch themselves in a consumers mind, making the brand unique and lovable.
Developing and sustaining the exceptional consumer experience is where brands face their biggest challenge, since this experience needs to be delivered by its employees. Brands are increasingly becoming aware of the need to go beyond standard operating procedures and monotonous customer service. Dunkin Donuts and Pizza hut are trying to move away from the top down approach, and are instead encouraging their employees in a co-creation process. Also instead of a thousand different metrics being used, companies like Burgs gourmet burgers) are now focusing on 2-3 metrics which will ensure the moments of truth like Dominos does with its “30 minute delivery” promise.
Some of the major trends in the industry are: consumers are increasingly making pre purchase choices and using websites like Zomato to validate their dining options. People are also becoming less patient and have less time to tolerate any mistakes, and so brands like Subway are training their employees to focus on customer engagement to provide a lasting relationship with the consumer. Many consumers are dissatisfied with the status quo of fast food offerings and their needs are becoming extremely complex. Dunkin Donuts is experimenting with its tough burger option to address such needs.
The session concluded on the note that all brands are interacting with the customers online and through social media to create brand loyalty and to continue delivering the wow factor.