ICE Holds the Cold Customer Experience Truth at Sonic

During the company’s recent earnings conference call, Sonic CEO Cliff Hudson talked about a major push toward a vastly improved customer experience−one for which he holds a cool confidence.

“ICE is our Integrated Customer Engagement platform, and it leverages our point-of-sale system and in addition to the point-of-sale system, our digital menu boards or POPS, our mobile payment processes, and then those with a guest smartphone or tablet when these things are integrated, it creates the most personalized customer experience in QSR in our view,” he said.

Sonic is eager to increase customization through technological initiatives and offer more smartphone convenience. POPS (the point of personalized service) displays are currently in more than 70 percent of Sonic’s 3,500 restaurants.

Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager for Baesman, told Loyalty360 that it’s great to see the QSR industry starting to integrate personalization and payment initiatives.

“Customers now expect any service or retailer to provide quick, personalized experiences with easy checkout and options tailored to their needs,” he explained. “With the ICE initiative, Sonic will increase customization, but it will also be more efficient at moving customers through the selection process, which should also reduce wait times and increase the number of customers served.”

Hudson added that the company’s ongoing objective is to leverage its core brand equities, historical innovation, differentiation, and customization of products in an environment where there’s really heightened deal seeking by consumers and a proliferation of commoditized value promotions from competitors.

“Going forward, our intention is to use platforms such as the recently launched Lil’ Grillers, and do this to meet the objectives of offering new and differentiated products which we have done over the years, promote products that include full margin items which these do, give the consumer compelling price point which this offer does and then drive relevance across multiple day parts which Lil’ Grillers also permit,” he explained.

What’s more, Hudson believes relevance holds the absolute key to magnified customer engagement and customer loyalty.

“Our view is that this type of promotion is really highly relevant in the current environment,” he said. “It allows customers to even add a Lil’ Griller to a meal they’re already ordering; you can attach it to as a snack in your happy hour drink, you can bundle several grillers together to make a standalone order. So, it is a promotion that fits well from our brand in our view, the newness, the quality, attractive price for consumers but for our operators, pricing at full margin. And so, these are characteristics that dovetail nicely with our targeted value offerings, even at other dayparts like the Morning Drink Stop. Our view is this is how we can differentiate and work to win as we set our sights on the spring and summer of 2017.”

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