America’s appetite for custom orders is on the rise. What began with the extra hot morning latte or an added pizza topping is quickly becoming the norm across the many services industries. A recent study shows that 36% of consumers consider buying customized products and services. Another shows that one in five consumers are willing to pay 20% more for a personalized or exclusive product.
Demand has accelerated with the rise in digital ordering, especially through mobile channels that make it easier than ever for consumers to customize their orders. At the tip of their fingers (or thumbs), they can clarify exactly how they want a menu item made, right down to specifying “extra,” “light,” or “normal” amounts of key ingredients.
As custom orders go high-volume and expand into new levels of detail, many restaurants are facing order-intake and fulfillment challenges, including outdated technology, a high-turnover workforce, and insufficient mobile channel strategies to meet demands. As a result, custom orders can become a disappointing experience for customers and employees alike.
When Custom Orders Fail To Deliver
Companies that rely solely on their own frontline workforce to take and fulfill custom orders face three common friction points and problems.
- Bad Data- If your POS system doesn’t offer a quick solution to accommodate a long line of custom orders, employees will find workarounds in their effort to satisfy the customer. Such ad libs cause data issues downstream that can distort sales insights, leading to inventory and financial forecasting challenges. Inaccurate order placement leaves you without a clear picture of what’s selling, and where to take your business and offerings next.
- Frustrated Employees and High Turnover- In companies with high-volume and highly customized orders, poor intake experiences lead to employees struggling with a key part of their jobs. In today’s tight labor market, high turnover can make custom order training extremely challenging and expensive. Many companies have a higher percentage of new employees than ever, with scarce institutional knowledge about customization. Frustration at the employees level inevitably translates to the customer experience—and can lead to even more employee turnover.
- Negative Customer Experiences- While customers turn to digital channels for better control of their custom orders, their experiences are often less than intuitive. Uncertainty about the final product runs high—especially if employees have to ad lib parts of the order fulfillment process along the way. And problems at the order-intake stage often lead to disappointments at delivery.
Instilling Discipline In Your Customization Offerings And Order Process Can Serve Everyone Better. Here’s How.
Move high-volume custom orders to a mobile channel
We recommend moving custom orders to digital channels, especially a well-designed mobile channel that puts the order intake process in your customers’ hands. Providing self-service orders via your mobile channel alleviates the risk of clunky order-placement issues that can frustrate your employees and your customers. It also helps ensure accurate sales data, which is critical to help you gain customer insights, manage inventory accurately, and inform winning promotions and product strategies. It can also provide unique value to your customers, helping to differentiate you in a competitive marketplace.
While many mobile approaches focus on either the customer experience or demand generation, we believe both are critical to getting the results you want.
Creating and reinventing a mobile channel that people want to use presents its own challenge. To ensure a great customer experience, ask yourself a few key questions:
- Does your imagery add value to the customer’s intent? Or is it taking up valuable screen space and pushing critical information below the fold?
- Is your taxonomy intuitive? Or is it built off back-end architecture that doesn’t translate for front-end users? Costing, data taxonomy and internal systems are often based on components of the product—and not the product itself. This makes it tough for front-end APIs to present the “finished product” to the user.
- How does your search work? Most customers who know what they want will go straight to your search function. Is it robust enough to understand the customer’s intent and offer up the results they’re looking for?
- How easy is it for your customers to customize? Users should be able to whiz through their selections with one thumb. Leverage what you’ve learned from past customized orders to present the most common edits above the fold. Narrow selections down to only serve up the options that make sense for each offering. By making it easy, you’ll dramatically improve the accuracy of your data while increasing customer satisfaction.
- Are you formatting your interface for mobile? Are you using too many dropdowns? Is it tough for a user to thumb through your mobile content on such a small screen? How can you streamline the user flow so it’s quick and easy to place a custom order?
Create higher demand for custom orders on mobile
You can do a lot to generate demand and drive high-volume custom orders to your user-friendly mobile channel:
- Leverage in-store signage and store employees to help educate customers on the ease and convenience of mobile devices and your mobile channel.
- Leverage market segmentation and geo-targeting to identify which customers are most likely to transition to mobile.
- Consider redirecting marketing dollars toward mobile adoption efforts. There are many levers you can apply to move traffic, redirect channel usage, and identify customers most likely to use your mobile experience.
- Make your mobile web and PWA (progressive web app) experiences just as robust as your app, so that customers have a great experience in any digital channel regardless of where they choose to engage.
Keep the big picture in view
As your mobile channel grows, be sure to maintain a holistic view of all customer touchpoints and how they impact each other. This insight will help you understand how all your customers are experiencing your brand—whether they're at a brick-and-mortar location, their desktops, or on a mobile device. It takes a 360-degree view to make the most of every channel and be sure that channels aren’t working against each other.
Never underestimate the value of giving your customers a direct digital connection for self-service custom orders. As custom orders play a growing role across a variety of services industries, a mobile channel strategy that leverages the right digital touchpoints is key to creating a positive experience that increases customer loyalty and employee satisfaction.