Officials at Boston-based B.Good, which has 54 restaurants (including Canada and Switzerland) in MA, CT, R.I., N.Y., Maine, N.H., VT, N.J., N.C. VA., and PA, with plans to open 10-15 new restaurants before the end of the year, take pride in their content communications but never want to reach the point of over-saturation.
Treating people like gold, wanting to build real relationships, feeling the love, and seeking to change the fast-food industry forever are some of the overarching goals enveloped in a benevolent mission for everyone associated with B.Good Restaurants.
Kim Cerato, CMO of B. Good Restaurants talked to Loyalty360 about the changing customer and creating brand alignment.
There is a lot of talk about customers changing, how do you feel customers are changing and how are you adapting to that change?
Cerato: Customers are feeling more and more overwhelmed. Given the ease of digital engagement through today’s social and email channels, there is an almost endless number of brands competing for their attention and loyalty. Customers certainly have decreased attention spans and lower tolerance for irrelevant messages.
In brand marketing, sheer volume cannot replace the quality of the communication. It’s still about the right message, at the right time, to the right person. This has always been true, but in the digital age–with seemingly zillions of impressions just fingertips away−it’s more tempting than ever to forget the fundamentals.
At B.GOOD, we have a lot to share with our customers. We are always excited to share our brand stories and announce our latest seasonal menu offerings. We thank our customers for helping us achieve proud milestones. But discretion is key: We take a hard look at how often we’re reaching out and try to manage our communications to only the most important messages that our customers really want to hear. Monitoring engagement and soliciting direct feedback have been key to ensuring we remain authentic and relevant. This strong sense of what cadence and content resonate with our most loyal customers helps us resist the impulse to over-saturate.
We continue to hear about brands that are looking to create alignment between their customer loyalty efforts, technology, customer expectations, and the brand promise? What are your thoughts on this?
Cerato: The goal is to create an enduring brand that can serve delighted, frequent customers. To do that, connecting these four things is critical. We’re constantly seeking new ways to do this, but it’s not easy.
One success story for us has been the gifting program on our app. Our ‘B.GOOD family members’ (a.k.a. our customers) can earn free food items through various promotions or number of visits. Through our app, they then have the ability to redeem the items themselves, to share them with a friend, or to donate them to charity. If they choose to donate, they then select an organization of their choice from a list of our community partners that are located nearby their local B.GOOD. Our customers love this feature, both the donation and the choice of which partner to impact.
One of our key brand pillars is community involvement, so this app feature is such a strong fit for us. We can engage with our customers, and our customers can engage with the local community. It’s really a win/win/win situation.
How does employee engagement/loyalty fit into the customer loyalty discussion? Are employees trained or engaged with differently today? How do you see this going forward?
Cerato: Our restaurant crew is critical for our customer engagement. They are the face of the brand when consumers walk in the door, and their performance can leave a lasting impression of B.GOOD. A friendly, informed, genuine employee can amplify our brand experience. But if our employees aren’t engaged, and don’t live up to how we market the brand, the lasting impression is a miss. Let’s be blunt: A subpar in-store experience will cancel out even the most expensive of customer acquisition campaigns.
Just this month we launched a major rebranding effort, and informing our employees was a critical part of our plan. Educating each crew member about what the brand stands for and giving them simple, straight-forward talking points helps them to engage with customers who are interested in learning more about B.GOOD.
Beyond education, we want to create an environment where employees are happy to come to work, feel valued for their contributions, and are motivated to put their best foot forward. Training sessions and manager coaching help with this initially, but building a strong culture that enables our values is the key to long-term success. Happy employees lead to happy customers.
How would characterize the state of customer loyalty and what trends do you foresee?
Cerato: Brands have more and more resources available to encourage loyalty in the digital space. But this doesn’t mean it’s now a piece of cake. Our competitors have access to the same growing landscape of cutting-edge tools and they’re not holding back. We’re constantly competing for customer loyalty, and tech alone is not a panacea. To earn the customer, this choice of tools must be matched by a rock-solid strategy, top-notch execution, and an authentic message. Going forward, as marketers become more familiar with technology and its realistic outcomes, I believe that some of the claims and vanity metrics will fade away as focus comes back to human connections. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.