Why mobile is playing a starring role in creating a better customer experience
Rohit Kapoor, vice president of IT at Pizza Hut International, shared insight and strategy on panel talk focused on mobile customer experience at ICX Summit in Dallas.
If retailers think they, as a retailer, or the retail industry, are the driving force in mobile retail they need to think again.
Consumers are driving retail's mobile experience and the mobile app consumer is proving to be a much more loyal customer than any other customer and, combined, it's making for a powerful business trend.
"We're spending a lot of time reading usability studies and we're at a turning point as consumers are driving our future, and as mobile is increasing significantly," said Rohit Kapoor, vice president of IT at Pizza Hut International.
Yet Kapoor, who's been in the trenches of the digital transformation within the retail and restaurant industries, tempered his view with an interesting caveat.
"Customer experience will never exceed our employee experience and their mobility," he said during a panel session, "Mobile Ordering and Gratification," at the recent ICX Summit held in Dallas, Texas.
Also on the panel, which was moderated by Curbside Chief Revenue Officer Sean Moran and was one of 15 sessions during the three-day summit, was Ken Moy, vice president and co-chief of digital for Subway Restaurants.
Subway, with 26,000 restaurants, was one of the earliest to launch mobile ordering and viewed investing in Apple Pay as a "great opportunity," recalled Moy. The pilot debuted in 2014 and roll out in North America began in 2015.
"We've been very active for a good long time," said Moy, noting the initial mobile app version was "all about functionality" and providing the most seamless mobile order experience as possible.
With its second version, which debuted a few months ago, Subway "double downed" on customer experience.
"By understanding how customers interacted with us, we used researchers to document the customer experience to see all the ‘pain points' and we add new capabilities all the time," he said. The latest app is now providing coupons and rewards to users, he added.
Such mobile retail strategies, according to moderator Moran, are all about meeting customer expectations online and in store. And, in that regard, mobile innovations are having a direct impact on the customer experience away from the app.
"It's about how to make the physical experience as easy and fast as the digital experience," he explained.
Undertaking such mobile innovation and being nimble with CX strategy isn't easy, noted Rohit.
"The business transformation is super hard. It's not just IT, it's human resources, the business model, etc. It's about driving forward to reshape a company as the market evolves and customer expectations change. I wish it was easy but this is hard," he told the nearly standing-room-only audience.
While it's not going to get any easier anytime soon, Rohit doesn't expect any big failures ahead either.
"We are a company with foresight and support to make it happen," he said.
Moy holds a similar philosophy when it comes to delivering mobile ordering in retail.
The focus, he said, is to ensure the digital compliments the physical and vice versa.
"It should be one experience and the challenge is to link commerce experiences," he said. "We need to provide a seamless experience and that is a big challenge for many of us."
Hurdling the challenges requires two things, he added.
"You have to accept that the restaurant experience can be different from one restaurant to another but strive to keep it as common as possible," he advised.
Secondly, be flexible when it comes to introducing new technologies such as mobile and kiosks.
"A kiosk may be best in one location but work better at curbside at another. The cookie cutter model is changing," he said, adding retailers and restaurants "need to deliver what the customer wants in the market and that can be very different. We are in a different business model today."
Rohit said another challenge retailers and restaurants are facing has to do with longtime technology systems that aren't very flexible and which don't make it easy to connect experiences.
For example, a retailer could have a great website but a system that doesn't allow the retailer to tap that resource with mobile or even the physical experience. This retailer would likely produce a poor customer experience.
"The key is how you work with legacy systems and make them talk and handshake to give customers what they want," he said.
Looking for more great insight and expert discussion relating to customer experience? Attend the upcoming CONNECT 2017/The Mobile CX Summit taking place August 21-23 in Philadelphia. The event will explore the many opportunities that retailers, restaurants and other B2C enterprises have for leveraging mobile and digital channels to build their brands, increase sales and improve customer engagement, experience and loyalty.
Judy Mottl / Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.