Fishbowl Helps Restaurants Create Elevated Customer Engagement to Drive Same-store Sales

Fishbowl’s clients lead the industry in data-driven marketing. Using analytics, cross-channel digital marketing, and mobile solutions, Fishbowl’s clients are uncovering valuable guest insights, developing effective customer engagement strategies, and building stronger guest relationships.

Fishbowl’s clients represent the industry’s top brands and innovators and lead all segments of the industry – casual, fast casual, QSR, and fine dining. Some of those clients include Burger King, Friendly’s, Cracker Barrel, Texas Roadhouse, Jamba Juice, Buffalo Wild Wings, Church’s Chicken, Denny’s, IHOP, Del Taco, Arby’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Famous Dave’s.

Prem Kiran, Chief Strategy Officer for Fishbowl, sat down with Loyalty360 to talk about his company and its mission. Fishbowl wants to be the global leader in the restaurant automation space. Kiran joined Fishbowl in December 2015.

What is your role with Fishbowl?
Kiran: I’m in charge of all products and strategy at Fishbowl.

What is your latest initiative?
Kiran: The number one challenge for restaurants today is how do you drive same-store sales and deliver superior customer experience. There are a lot of market factors that influence that, like changes in consumer behavior and market economics. One of our goals is to empower restaurants to become best-in-class
marketers by leveraging our Customer Engagement Platform.

Our core identity is digital marketing. We started off as an email marketing company purely focused on email and a little bit of SMS. In the past few years, there has been a shift in marketing and that’s how Fishbowl has aligned its strategy as well. How do you make marketing more data-driven and intelligent, personalized, and targeted? How do you show clear ROI for restaurants and how do you do that by keeping the total cost of ownership low? We have investments all around that.

The big initiative is how do you create a truly omnichannel relevant engagement platform, and attribute all leads back to improving same-store sales and creating brand advocates.

What are the biggest opportunities for brands/marketers today?
Kiran: We sit down and have this discussion with our clients and prospects all the time. The No. 1 opportunity for them today is the cost of technology and leveraging a variety of data at high speed/real-time. The cost of technology has come down in the past five to seven years and now it’s inexpensive and affordable, such as cloud-based big data solutions, but it’s still a complex undertaking.

Second, they want to better connect with their guests. The biggest challenge is they don’t know who their guests are. Most of these restaurants don’t know who their guests are. They’re flying blind. They need to identify who their guests are to be smarter about their marketing investments.

Once you know who your guests are, and their visiting, dining, spending and engagement patterns, you can actually engage them in a much more personalized, relevant, timely manner. The more relevant brands are to their guests, the more they develop that emotional connection with them, the more loyal their guests will be. What I’m seeing is they’re getting more intelligent and savvy about how they market to their guests and use technology to do this.

How sophisticated are the customer experience/customer engagement initiatives of the brands you’re working with?
Kiran: A lot of these guys are in their early stages. A few, of course, are more ahead than the “early majority.” On a sophistication curve, most of these guys are somewhere in the middle. They have a good understanding of what initiatives they are doing and what makes sense for their businesses. In terms of actually seeing results, it’s still early.

Jamba Juice and Denny’s are doing an amazing job in this area.  They both adopted this strategic imperative as an enterprise strategy which is why we believe they are being successful.

We continue to hear about brands that are looking to create alignment between their customer loyalty efforts, technology, customer expectations, and the brand promise?
Kiran: That is, in fact, one of the top things: Companies want to achieve strong brand identity, affinity, and differentiation. Part of it is understanding and having a purpose aligned with how guests engage and view the brand today and how they can better serve and establish that market differentiation. A lot of these guys are trying to get to deeper relationships with customers, but the technology ecosystem is complex. If you look at today’s generation, it’s much more digitally savvy. What has happened is consumers have changed from what they were 10 years ago, expectations have changed. The channels of engagement have changed. Brands need to embrace and align to this to survive and thrive.
Everyone is trying to shift and change their brand story and views based on changing audiences. That’s an evolution I see as a big centerpiece as they start thinking about loyalty and connections with their audience.

Can you define customer journey and what trends you see?
Kiran: How do you engage consumers along the lifecycle and turn them into high LTV guests? Today, you can reach consumers at home, when they’re out and about, or in the store. You know their buying, behavioral, locational preferences, and their psychographic and demographic drivers. How do you connect all this and make it a superior experience for them? For restaurants, how do they align their retention and revenue goals with an engagement strategy across all aspects?

At home? Taking consumer intelligence and applying it to become a top-of-mind brand or restaurant.  Online ordering and delivery are growing rapidly. Having a sustainable business model that maintains control of your customers, without diluting to those who provide the physical delivery services, is imperative.

How do you engage them when they’re out and about? There is a lot of geomarketing/geofencing that is happening. How do I send them a message at a point of influence?

How do you engage people in-store and how do you make the experience rich? Companies are investing and testing Wi-Fi and beacon technology and we work with restaurants supporting in-store kiosks for ordering and loyalty as well.

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