Investing in the overall customer experience is an integral part of a brand’s ongoing success and paves the way to strengthening consumer relationships.

At Denny’s, that overarching theme has served the customers and company officials quite well.

John Dillon, SVP and CMO of Denny’s, talked to Loyalty360 about what he considers to be the brand’s most underrated element connected to customer engagement/customer experience.

“I think many people−especially those who may not have had an opportunity to visit one of our diners recently−would be surprised to learn how much we have invested in improving the overall experience for our guests,” Dillon explained. “With the understanding that today’s consumer demands incredible value, especially when it comes to where they choose to dine, one of the areas we have focused heavily on is innovating our menu. We have changed or improved over 70 percent of our menu in the past five years. Our guests have been able to experience these changes across a variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options and feature dishes like our all-new fluffy buttermilk pancakes, USDA select 100 percent beef, seven-grain bread options, fresh-cut seasonal fruit and vegetables and a variety of healthier alternatives like gluten-free English muffins, turkey bacon, chicken sausage, and so much more.”

What’s more, Dillon said company officials have seen a tremendous response from their guests “as we have worked to improve the aesthetics and overall experience inside of our restaurants through our ‘Heritage’ remodel program, which we have now completed in over 60 percent of our 1,700-plus restaurants. All of these improvements present a great opportunity for us. We’ve maintained the heart and soul of the Denny’s brand that people know and love, but updated the experience to address the expectations of today’s guest, whether it be online, in our restaurants or at home.  We have a tremendous story to tell and it’s safe to say we’ve barely scratched the surface of telling it.”

Denny’s officials take great pride in personalizing the customer experience to gain a greater understanding of their customers and meeting or exceeding their expectations.

“Brands have the opportunity to know more about their customers than ever before, but today’s consumer is also increasingly mindful of that as well, and even the most loyal customers are guarded when it comes to what information they elect to share,” Dillon explained. “However, what we have seen is that consumers are willing to provide personal information when brands are able to demonstrate they can receive an improved and customized experience in return.”

Denny’s leverages this information to better serve its guests, providing personalized information, offers, and even experiences based on their unique preferences.

“The great thing about being able to create a more personalized experience for our guests is that we have a better and more accurate picture of what they want from us,” Dillon said. “Digital platforms and information sharing allow us to understand their interest and then create targeted marketing messages that reach the right guest at the right moment.”

Technology continues to evolve the way in which Denny’s interact with its guests, Dillon noted.

“Today’s consumer looks at technology as a way to make their lives easier so as a restaurant brand, we have to continue to leverage the new technology to provide our guests greater convenience,” Dillon said. “At Denny’s, we’ve carefully taken into consideration every touch point we have with our guests and looked at how they are using technology and how we can make that a seamless experience. For some of our guests, that may mean using our website or online app to find their nearest Denny’s restaurant or to place an online order. For others, that might mean engaging with them on social media by sharing a funny animated GIF or witty tweet. Today’s customer demands more, but by meeting them on their terms and in their terms, we are able to address those expectations for our guests.”

Dillon shared a “great example” of how Denny’s leverages technology to respond to the changing needs of its customers through its new online and mobile ordering platform, ‘Denny’s on Demand’.

“For over 60 years, Denny’s has been the place where America comes to get their favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes, serving our guests whatever they want, whenever they crave it,” Dillon explained. “However, today’s on-demand consumer requires an even greater level of convenience−they want to be able to enjoy Denny’s wherever they want. ‘Denny’s on Demand’ has taken that same ‘always open’ convenience our fans have come to expect from Denny’s and applied it to online ordering, giving our guests a quick and easy way to place an order for takeout and, where available, delivery of their favorite menu items, all day, every day.” 

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