Connected, by mParticle Episode 5: Loyalty 2.0 with Kevin Fitzpatrick of Ruby Tuesday
In this episode we welcome Kevin Fitzpatrick, SVP of Digital and Performance Marketing at Ruby Tuesday.
What’s the key to building a great loyalty program? In this episode we connect with Kevin Fitzpatrack, SVP of Digital and Performance Marketing at Ruby Tuesday, to discuss loyalty programs and what restaurants can learn from retail about improving the guest experience.
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Abhi: Mr. Kevin Fitzpatrick thank you so much for for making the time to jump on this.
Kevin: Thanks for having me.
Abhi: Yeah. So I mean, to give the guests a little, a little bit of background, I know, you know, we go back quite a ways, but I always like to start off with the obvious question, right?
I'd love to hear a little bit more about yourself and and what you do. Okay.
Kevin: About myself. So I am currently the SVP of digital marketing at Ruby Tuesday, a restaurant it's primarily kind of mid to, to east coast. We've been around for 50 years and and we're going to be around for 50 more.
So you know, if I, if I think about my background and what kind of got me here, I've got one of those kind of weird. Backgrounds we've talked about this in the past ABI, but I started out in finance. I actually majored in economics, got my MBA in finance. And usually the first question I get is what the heck is a finance guy doing in a, in a marketing role, you know?
And, and it's interesting because a lot of the roles that I took on or early in my career were around building financial models which are, you know, basically predicting customer behavior from the finance side of it. All right. And so the transition to marketing is just putting myself on the other side of that financial model, you know, just not, not what are the inputs it's now it's what are the stimulus.
The inputs of that financial model and understand the consumer behavior, it takes to drive some of those, those predictions and whatnot. But I think a lot of my transition started in when I worked at blockbuster video you know, everyone's, you know, guy kind of makes fun of me. I got to, I got to ride that sinking ship at, at the time it was sinking, but, but it was also one of the best places to work back in the kind of the late two thousands where, you know, we're, we're all talking as, as organizations and especially marketing organizations.
Like how do I know more about my customer and use that information to create better business outcomes and better guest experiences. And back in the late two thousands, I mean, we had perfect data. You had a membership card. I mean, we captured your social security number and we saw every single video that you've rented and you knew exactly what your tastes were and how often you showed up.
And when you bought food, I mean, like. So much of that customer data that went into financial modeling and from my perspective, but it was a view and insight into the guests, which is huge. And so that's where I, my career kind of transitioned more into strategy and loyalty where my, my financial model building and report design became, became into more strategy.
And. And again, how do you impact a customer experience and understand their behaviors and how do you drive them? So I spent probably the last decade plus in loyalty, where if we were working for loyalty or Briley and partners, a loyalty agency at designing programs and design, you know, figuring out the outcomes.
And I worked a lot with GameStop is one of my clients, and eventually got absorbed into that and did a lot of strategy work for them promotional, marketing, supporting game launches. And, you know, that was a fantastic place to be as well. I love going to game shows, you know, seeing all the cool stuff coming out ahead of time.
You know, I don't know the thing I like to say or brag about it. I got to play a Nintendo switch about six months before anyone got to see it. I had one, I had a demo unit. I mean, it's like, you know, I tell my kids that and they're like, we don't care. But but yeah, it was a great experience. I ended up running the popper rewards program helped kind of try to evolve that and then found myself at Dave and busters, which is a really unique.
Business trying to connect multiple businesses, you know, in, in one, you know, one experience and how do you create, you know, a good guest experience and understand guests and create the connecting fabric of, you know, where do you connect data and what do you do with it? And, yeah, so now I'm here at Ruby's to kind of build up that, that framework and foundation for how do we understand our customer, which is, which is a really hard thing to do in a restaurant space when, you know, in retail, oh man, it is, I swear my next jobs in retail, I've got somebody behind a register and it's like, Hey, put in your number, you know, and it's.
I mean, you know, the tracking of of, of transactions to a guest is, you know, upwards in the 60, 70%. And then you go back to restaurant, you're lucky if you can get 10%. And a lot of that is just because that, that connected framework and the technology isn't there to seamlessly get that, that form of attribution at log-in.
And, and, and, and at Ruby Tuesday, you know, we're just like Dave and busters, you know, there, the PLS was across the restaurant, you know, so what do you do, you know, and how do you learn and understand your guests better? And, and there's, there's partners out there that we're working with to give us insight.
And, and, and it's interesting to kind of see, you know, this, this 50 year old brand, how, how we're doing some actually pretty advanced things and driving some additional segmentation where, where we're trying to go. It's, it's pretty exciting. So that was a, really the long answer to who am I outside of that I like mountain biking and playing with my kids know when I say like mountain biking, it's.
Abhi: Well, I didn't know about the mountain biking thing. You know, this, this is 18 L I'll, you know, may, maybe we'll, we'll brush off both our mountain bikes and do something, but no, I mean Kevin, I, I actually loved sort of the way you, you shared your career journey and I think there's, oh, there's so many questions I want to ask you.
but yeah, sure. Luck, blockbuster. Everyone wants to sort of, you know, joke and laugh about that, but that point that you made about loyalty and guest experience and people forget like blockbuster was actually an amazing company, right?
I mean, okay. We can talk about the changes of, technologies and, your ability to adapt. And that's something that, we'll get into as well but if we think about. From a digital marketing perspective holistically today.
And I'm really interested to get your thoughts on this just because you have worked with so many organizations that maybe have been traditionally brick and mortar that saw a real need to move digital water, some of the you know, perhaps opportunities and in fact advantages that may be a brick and mortar brand has over like a digital native brand.
You know, when building a marketing program. Yeah. I
Kevin: mean, part of it is I think the, the restaurant industry just in particular is trying to learn from me. You know, and, and part of the, the advantages of retail in a lot of cases, and it depends on who you are. But like I think of like a best buy or a target it's, you know, or, you know, places that are true, like Omni channel and they have a lot of products or even a GameStop.
It was, it was great because you always had something to talk about, right. You always had a new game coming out. You always have a new, new brand of kitty litter being introduced, and I'm just making things up, but it's like, you always had a product as a driver for, you know, what. You know, what would drive a guests action and you had enough variety and a lot of cases of, of what they bought.
So you got a little bit of understanding on what they, what they do. You know, like in the restaurant industry, it's, you kinda just have a, a set menu to, to an extent, you know, and, and what do you eat? What are, what is the makeup of the number of dishes you have? And how can you use that to understand a guest better than.
That are action. You know? So like the things that we're digging into now is a lot of the things that, that I was trying to set up, we did set up with with when, when I integrated a mParticle at Dave and busters where it's like, I want that customer record. I want that, that, that list of attributes, you know, there there's, you know, those attributes that are those like propensity scores and RFM scores and things like that.
But sometimes there's things that you can execute are like, do they do these things? You know, a yes, no, a binary answer, you know, like, is this person a lunch person? Is this person a dinner person, you know, and understand the differences between those kind of give you two opportunities. So I'll just put it back in the context of like, like lunch, like right now we're, we're running daily lunch specials.
I'm telling everybody about it. Right. But if you only ever visited us for dinner you know, what's, what's your likelihood, you know, the action on that, on that email, that off. Right. And you look at it two ways, one. I'm trying, you know, I could look at that as, Hey, you're a dinner person. How can I get you to eat lunch here?
But sometimes that's just not how you use the brand and you know, it's falling on deaf ears. And so if I keep communicating lunch specials I might lose that person, you know, cause it's just not relevant to them or they're not acting and I could be driving an extra visit if I suddenly turned that and started talking about what dinner specials I have.
I also had a learning like when you talk about just, just, you know, using data you know I'm actually forgetting what the question was originally, but then to keep going. But you know, it's kind of understanding what the guests like and what drives them in is what we're all trying to figure out.
I had an old boss at GameStop for a short period of time who was was part of the initial Panera program where it was kind of surprised and delight and they would look at what you bought based on, you know, you, you're telling you who you are and they would try to get you to, to get into categories that you wouldn't.
Guide. So you come in, you get a chicken sandwich all the time, eat this roast beef sandwich, or here's, here's a soup and the redemptions were not great. Like, you know, it's like, you know, what they found out was, well, if you're here eating a chicken sandwich all the time, what's going to get you in the door is a chicken sandwich.
You know, what you like, what you do. And that's kind of like how loyalty in the space in general has evolved from kind of the 2002 to now, you know, it's, it's, it's not just putting a rewards mechanism in place where back in late two thousands, it was unique. I consolidate my spend here. I get money back and it's a, you do this, I get this.
And, and I think where it's evolving, it's becoming more experiential, more status driven through wards. The payback is getting higher because it's just a much more competitive space, but it is kind of understanding and responding to those behaviors of, you know, Kevin's a chicken sandwich guy. I can drive his behavior and get them back in with the chicken sandwich.
And now what can I do incrementally to try to enhance, attach, drive them in other days, he's not only in there, you know, increase his his, his visit cadence and things like that. And, and, and a lot of that is understanding not just frequency and how much he spends, which is Welty of old, you know, it's focused on the whales, but understanding on the, on the individual level, what drives Kevin and, and that's, that's how the focus is shifting.
Like, like a lot of a lot of my focus that, that I'm, I'm, I'm trying to apply right now is look at, you know look at things from a couple of different places, you know, using cusp, you know, using data. And some of that is, you know, how do you provide a macro view and apply that to, to your store base like this.
Isn't a business park. It primarily does lunch. And when work is out of hours, that sort doesn't do any business, you know? So it's like, so when you start thinking about promotions, like I'm going to have a date night promotion, cool. Don't market it at this store. It's not going to work. You know, it's just, it's just not, and, and you know, a lot of places don't classify stores and understand those stores enough in the, in the demographic and the people around it, where they live and, and how they use that store that you can use to impact and influence media plans and things like.
And then on the other side, there's, there's the micro, you know, I'm a chicken sandwich guy. I'm a lunch guy, I'm a dinner guy. Whenever I visit, I'm also ordering kid entrees. You know, that's, that's extremely important when you start talking about imagery and things like that. If there's only ever two entrees in my in my, on my check and there's alcohol purchase, you know, I, I, I have a reason to assume that, you know, maybe you fit into a, a certain demographic range.
And if I start showing you family pictures, it's really going to turn you off. That that was something that Dave and Buster's, we are really conscious of. I don't want to show UFC fights in inviting, you know, the mom who visits on Wednesday mornings with her kids. She's never gonna come to a UFC fight on Saturday and their response rates are terrible, your unsubscribes higher.
And you're not, you're not connecting with the guests because I think the expectation is there. We're just gonna have to stop me. I'll be
Abhi: like, oh, this is so many thoughts that I, I want you to let get all of that out because I think there's so much so much goodness there here's my purse. Like of all the things you just said when I think about brick and mortar experiences, I go to, right.
Like, you know, we talked about Dave and Buster's GameStop really like these are oftentimes like some of the most beloved experience. Like Regardless of whether, you know, me or your personalized in my experience, if there's a base level of product or an installed yo or sometimes a requirement, right?
Like I can't eat a chicken sandwich over the internet. Like I have to go somewhere to buy this thing and it's a physical object. Right. But where are you?
Kevin: Yeah, go ahead. I'll just say it's interesting on that topic. Cause because I've got a I'll, I'll get a POV on anything, but like, you know, when you think about loyalty people are loyal to brands the loads of products, their loads experiences they're not little to programs.
You know, and it it's weird. Like, and when I was at GameStop, we always had higher satisfaction rates with GameStop the brand. Then let me deal with the loyalty program, you know, and it kind of comes down to almost a reprogramming of that term. It's not a loyalty program. It's a rewards Burke.
Like I'm asking you to say, this is me when you visit. And when you say this is me, I'm going to give you stuff back for saying, this is me and the things I give you back. You know our monetary rewards in a lot of cases, but it could also be access. It could be things that make your life easier. It could be you know, customize offers that you are likely to respond to.
So I can improve that guest experience. You know, that's also kind of one of the transitions of loyalty, you know, but, but it's, yeah, loyalty is just, it's just a rewards mechanism. That's all it is. But the brand loyalty, that's a different story. And that's where a guests experience is what matters the most, you know, because you know, a lot of people like, like, oh man, what's your favorite rewards program?
Like we go through this exercise all the time. And a lot of people say like, Chick-fil-A, why is it your favorite little. Well, it's, you know, I get to order on my phone. It's easy, you know, the rewards are there and the rewards was the last thing they always mentioned. It's easy, you know, you go to Starbucks and this is always my example at Starbucks.
Like what's my favorite loyalty program. I was like, I like Starbucks. Not because I earned stars. My wife has no idea what stars mean. I'm sitting on 600 of them. I could probably get free coffee for like several weeks, but what we like about it is it, it stores my payment method. You know, that's unique when I get new gift cards for Christmas, I added to it.
So I don't have to carry them with me. I don't forget them. I don't lose them. I I can order from it. I don't have to wait in line. You know, it saves me. You know, the concept behind that is they utilize the technology as, as the rewarding entry point to save me time and make my life easier, you know?
And by the way, you are in stocks. Right. And, and that's, that's kinda how I view other people are. Yeah, I got free coffee. That's why I use it. Yeah. But, but you kinda need to understand that the, the role that an experience or the role that technology can play in helping drive you know loyalty in a company.
Abhi: And honestly, I think that's the piece. Like if I look at, you know, the traditionally brick and mortar brands that, are building a digital experience and the ones that have built, like the better digital experiences it's, Hey, we already have, you know, maybe a significant or a nice big group of loyal guests, but like, what else can we do to your point?
You're, it's almost just reduce the barriers of entry to like us, right? Like it's how do we do more of the stuff that you actually. The reason you're walking through the door in the first place, how do we kind of move away the noise of stuff that kind of turns you off? Like to your point, you know, it might be store-specific.
You're, you're exactly like in a business park? A date night service won't work, but all that comes into, I think listening and the digital mechanisms of being able to listen to your guests.
Kevin: Well, I, I even have a, an analog example, right? This goes back to the blockbuster days. I was on a store optimization type taskforce.
And one of the things that we did is we looked at the guest experience. I was on the guest experience team and. You know, and I, I don't know if you're old enough to remember blockbuster. I loved that experience. And I even told my wife a couple of weeks ago. It's like, I would love right now to take the kids on, you know, it's a Friday night.
I want to drive the kids over somewhere, pick out a few movies and just that experience of browsing everything that's available now it's on your TV and it's curated and it makes me mad. I hate the Netflix experience. I, I detest it. I love the service. I love the access. I love how it saves me the time to drive.
But I miss out on the experience that, that, that brick and mortar thing brought to my life. Right. But, but went on that project that I was on. We're the friction points. And you know, this is your typical journey mapping exercise. But I always use this example. I've I've said this many times, but we were thinking about it and it's like, back in the day, a movie would come out on Tuesday.
That's the day they came out and people rented them on Tuesday. And, and a lot of times the terms of the rental, you know, wanted it back by the weekend so you can rent it out again. Cause that's when that's when the traffic came. Right. Right. So I remember you get out of work. It's Friday night, you parked in the, in the, in the blockbuster actually, you know, you'd probably come screeching around the corner, everything into a spot springing out of the car, you dart through the door.
And like the new men and black movie came out, you dart to the ends, you know, you just cut through half the story to get to that. Okay. It's it's, it's not here. It's not on the shelf. Well, you know, rats, you know, you might walk to the returns and see if it's there or just, okay, well, let me just see what else is here and I'll just walk to the end and what you end up doing is you create a really stressful experience there unintentionally, right?
Cause you've got limited supply and high demand for the new movies. So high stress you know, and you also, in some cases like that, if they're darting to them, then, then they're skipping half the store, you know, the enthusiasts they're missing those on the, on the way you shop counter-clockwise for some stupid reason at a blockbuster.
But well at least the ones that I worked in. Yeah. But so, so we took that experience. Well, you know, kind of what Netflix is doing right there, top tents. What if we, what if we took the top 20 most rented videos and put that at the front of. Right. You're here for these things. I know. And I can take the stress out of your life because you're going to see as it in stock, as soon as you come in or I put it in your hands.
Right. And so it's again, trying to kind of listen to the guests and, and take away where those pressure points are. And what we found then is they got what they wanted out of the gate. And by the way, here's now a curated list of 19 other things that are, that everyone else in your stores rented. But and here's probably something that, you know, wasn't widely utilized back in the late two thousands is we literally did that by store.
Every week we would run the top 20 by store, send a list and they would curate that top 20 list every. By that store. So you were adjusting for demographics. It was fantastic. Yeah. And tastes, you know, so like what, what would be on the top 20 in, you know Southeast Florida is going to be very different than, you know, California or up in Chicago or something like that.
But, but what you ended up doing then is you drove action, more video attached because you didn't cut out half the store. They, they then had a more leisurely experience that was, you know, relaxing. And they, they ended up renting more movies by taking the top 20 and putting it right here. So it was interesting, you know and a lot of that was based on, you know, understanding how a customer views that guests experience, but then also starting to integrate some of the, the, you know, the, the learnings and using what are they renting.
And, and that's a, that's a macro view, right? What is renting at this store? And applying that to help drive a better guest experience that actually results. More sales and potentially more customer loyalty because it wasn't stressful. I mean, you know, we all know where that ended up, but
Abhi: no, but I mean, well, I am not too young to remember the blockbusters.
I think for me it was it was the Nintendo 64 games. Right. Like I'd always had it through and, you know, I, I jumped straight to the you know, the game, but, there was the, the walking through the aisles and, you know, I'm sure that was curious. I didn't think about it that way.
I didn't realize at that time that there was actually someone that was thinking about, yeah. What were sort of the top sellers, what were the things that were being checked out? You know, and yeah, I guess where I was, where I was going with that was, and this segues into the next thing I wanted to ask you.
I think it's clear. There's an aesthetic, there's a feeling, there's an emotion of just doing certain things physically in person and listen, I'm, I am the biggest cheerleader of digital transformation and digital customer experience and all of that.
But you know, that doesn't necessarily mean that, that doesn't intersect with like the physical three-dimensional human world that we live in. And, you know, I think what, at the core of what you said in the examples you provided, like, what I took out of that is it's really like how seamlessly can you sort of integrate those two experiences?
Because the more and more I look at it and my hunch on where the world's going is it's not so much like an either or. You know, it's not so much like, okay, cool. Like you have a brick and mortar presence. Like that doesn't mean you can't have a digital experience. Right. Right. And I think the other point is it's not necessarily about like forcing it either.
It's like what makes sense for your business? So to your point on, you know, a restaurant and what makes sense for a digital presence for a restaurant to have versus a retail store and the types of emails and the types of loyalty programs, you're building around that. So I guess where I'm going with that, Kevin is like what are. Some of the opportunities and challenges of collecting and unifying all this data, right? Whether that's, you know, we talked about offline data, right there, seriously there's signals and touch points that are valuable to building that best in class loyalty program that are happening physically in a store.
Right. Those touch points are also happening online, you know, with your own own websites and mobile apps and OTT devices now, and that whole bit. And then there's also like a whole sea of like third-party data, right? There's like demographic information, other data points that you can sort of like buy, fill in.
Like, how do you, I guess, how do you navigate that? And yeah. What, what are, yeah, I'll let you take that wherever you want, but what are some of the biggest opportunities and challenges of of tying all that data together?
Kevin: Yeah, I mean, technology is, is, you know, is a piece, right? It's also.
You know, you want to make sure you're driving your strategies, you know, your, your outcomes that you need. You know, cause like, like right now, you know, we're, we're just, we're still kind of feeling impact of, you know, kind of the recent resurgence of COVID, you know, I think everyone's kind of still is except that you've got to drive through you know, but you know, the, the.
You know, a lot of the focus is, like, you know, it just depends on the outcome you want to drive. Right. How do I drive more traffic? And what do I need to drive more traffic? You know? And, and some of that is I need a deeper understanding of my guests, so I can go find out who are the best guests the ones most likely to connect to a promotion, or if I'm promoting a product, which ones are, are the ones consuming that product.
So I can go find more people like that, you know that's kind of, the basis that we're chasing down, and I think a lot of like what we were kind of doing it at DNB, you know, w or didn't get a chance to do enough of is , understanding the customer journey and understanding how they navigate that, which I think is actually more important for, for businesses that are more omni-channel that have that online digital marketplace type experience which for a restaurant, you know, that's, that's your Olo, you know, experience your online ordering you know, and how that connects to in store and things like that.
But , I guess it's, it's all about understanding and learning the guests, you know, and it's it's where are they? When are they, what are they doing? What channels do they engage in? What are they buying? How much are they spending? You know, and then, you know, what do they look like?
Cause, cause you know, the demographics, like family size, gender, when you think about, you know, who's the decision maker, you know, the family, those kinds of things matter. When you, when you're trying to pick who you want to target and reach out to or just any cultural differences, you know, like Dave and busters, you know, we, we would, we would have problems and we would do like a craft beer offer and try to, you know, and do it nationwide and understand it.
We can't understand why it doesn't sell well, you know, in the Washington DC market, but we do a liquor offer. It doesn't do well, you know, where I live in Frisco, but it does really well out in DC and a lot of that's demographic. So it's understanding a little bit about, you know, like what, what are they doing? What are their tastes drive a lot of, you know, kind of that, you know, again, you can, we can drive some of the macro and micro ways you do things.
But again, it's about learning everything you can about a guest, because that can be meaningful. So like example, you know, like a Dave and Buster's, you've got a guest just coming in the door and they're eating burgers and whatnot. But you know, if you also can find out, are they browsing online, you know, and is this the same person and what, what food categories are they clicking on?
Are they, are they looking at what kid items are available? And I, and a lot of that can go into retargeting as well, where it's like, you know, in some cases, if you don't have that one-to-one attribution or they're not buying from you, but you understand what they're looking at and what's important to them, you know, that can drive retargeting efforts to say, Hey, you were looking at this stuff.
You know, retail uses this all. You know what retail kind of looks at it more like, Hey, you looked at this, you want it, you know, which, which helps, you know, cause you know, it's, it's kind of recall or it's like, oh, you know, I decided not at the time, but yeah, it makes sense. Or here's your opportunity to take that content, what they're looking at and maybe turn it, you know, position it side by side with an offer to drive that immediacy, to drive that action and whatnot.
And so it's kind of like there's, there's different strategies that you can employ depending on where they're at and what they're doing. That, I mean, th the opportunities are kind of endless, but it's also not just, don't just look at what they're buying, you know, it's it's what are they looking at?
What are they browsing? How long are they spending in your stores? How many chairs come to the table? But if I see them multiple times, is it the same size party? You know? Are there certain times of the year where, you know, that that guest check is plussed up, you know, is that a birthday occasion they're celebrating, you know, know there's things you can infer and, and, and understand so that you can respond to the guests.
It was really good, you know? Cause you want to customize that experience. And I think that's kind of where we're the future and is going, digital is going and where retail is going is colliding, is everything shifting digital because they're trying to curate an experience for you. You know, it's like my wife goes shopping for clothes all the time and it's like, ah, nothing in this store is working.
Okay. But if the store in the context of the top 20 said, Hey, you know, you've been here before. I've seen you. Here's all the things that I know you would like, you know, or, you know, w I worked on, worked with express back at the loyalty agency and they were doing some things where it's like, you bought these pants, they would hit you back and say, Hey, you bought those pants.
People that bought those pants, typically buy these shirts, you know, or, or these align with your style. And it kind of kind of combined some that stitch fix, you know, type a type mentality.
Abhi: You see that university there's no e-comm retail store that doesn't do that. The recommended, like complete your basket with these other items.
Kevin: Right. So why can't you do that with. You know, yeah, you liked this burger. Here's, here's a couple of things that you didn't try that I know you're going to love and here's a reason to come back and you can tie it off into that, you know? And, and, and that's, that's kind of the retail mentality, you know, the curation of, of w the, the types of goods you'd expect that a retail, but then streamlining that retail experience to work well with that digital technology, so that you're using it in the store
And you know, the goal there is, can I check you out faster? How do I get, you know, how do I get you to, to enjoy the best part of the things you like and minimize the parts that you don't like, you know? And, and, and that, you know, Amazon is doing a great job with that, where it's like, you know, just come in, add things to your basket, walk out,
Right. So you're talking about the the cashless, like you can just walk into the grill. Yeah, yeah. That's right. The last
Kevin: thing I want to do with the grocery store, I don't mind walking the house and picking up the food. In fact, sometimes that's a pain. If I can choose that all and have someone can put it in my trunk, it saves me a ton of time, you know, but at the same time, if I can just check myself out using my phone as I go, and then I just leave the building.
I don't have to wait in line, especially on the, on the Saturday or Sunday versus sort of busy Sunday mornings. You know, it's like, that's a huge time saver. And time, time is so valuable these days.
Abhi: And I think, you know, like tying that back and I'm trying to, I guess the non-technical like experience analogy that came to my mind is like a really, really great rest.
Like I I've heard this or I've read an article about this, like 11 Madison Park is this Michelin three-star restaurant in New York city. And. I think they go to the extent of keeping records on every one of their guests for like their whole life. Right. So they'll actually know on the second reservation made, Hey, you ordered this thing, like, how is your son?
Right. Like last time you guys came over Christmas, like, how was your trip? And if I have to tie that back to like our world's right of signals and digital touchpoints, it sort of doesn't matter if it's digital or physical. How, like how well are you listening to those signals? So I think for a, for a brand or someone listening in, I think it's, it's capturing as much of.
What are you putting out and how is your consumer responding to that? To like, what level of detail can you tie that to? Right. And then I think there's a duality there, which is, you know, and you, you touched on this in the beginning of what you said there, Kevin, which is , you gotta have a strategy or a direction, right?
Like if you have a hypothesis on, Hey, these are the things we think our customers like in this store, generally in this demographic, here's the things we don't think they like, right. That data is what really allows you to validate and test that. And yeah, I mean, I almost think of it as like, how do you, how are you the most attentive, best friend?
Like, how are you the best waiter or waitress at the restaurant knowing like what your guests is doing? And, you know, it doesn't matter. Like if it's, if they're talking to you over a mobile app, a website, or by ordering
Kevin: things in the store, Right, but that's also where, you know, everyone on their mother has a, has an app, you know, and, and that's where we're all going, because everyone wants a little piece of your real estate on your phone.
The thing that you're glued to, you know, 13 hours a day or whatever. But you know, some of that too is opening up new ways to, to reach. Right. I mean, it's like when email marketing started, oh my God, you have to drive your business on email. I mean, you still can't. I mean, it's so hugely impactful. But you know, the response rates and reaction rates and engagement and visitation and, and consuming of offers and things like that in those micro messages of a push notification or an SMS.
I mean, it's, it's unbelievable the difference in response rates because you can't avoid it's invasive, you know, but, but it's also, you know, where a lot of the privacy concerns are coming in and, you know, making sure you're balancing that customer experience, you know, email, you can spam email a little bit, not too much social.
Sure. You know, I, you can spam as much as you want. I mean, as long as it's good content, but like a push notification, I mean, you've gotta be very sparing on, on what you send out an SMS, the same thing. Cause they're so easy to turn off and they're really hard to turn back on and
Abhi: at its best, right. If we're really going to it as.
You're doing this all in the service of like, how do you to your point make it the best possible experience for your consumer. Right. Right. And you're right. Like, there is a level of like pushing that too far. You know, when you talk about trust and credibility and brand loyalty, right. Those things take years, decades to build, and it takes, you know, a crappy push notification flow to break.
Right. You know? Right. It takes a couple of minutes of getting annoyed to break, but,
Kevin: I mean, it's, it's kind of art, you know, responsibility and marketing, you know, I, I'm not. Operation execution, you know, like I don't like in the context of a restaurant, I don't make food. Right. I don't wait on, on the guests and those two pieces are crucial to an experience crucial, you know I can send people to stores, you know with media and if it's not a good experience, they won't come back no matter what I do.
Right. You know, and the same goes for retail. I mean, if, if you don't have good products that don't last a year, people aren't gonna come back. It doesn't matter what you're going to say to them. You know, so that, that's where it's like, you know, as you, as a business have to have those nailed down or, you know, it's, it's a certain level of expectations that a customer has.
And then, you know, now it's, it's our job to try to understand that and drive that, that behavior and have that recognition and be able to break through, to remind people of those experiences and what they have and what they ate because those are the things that, again, You know, it might be an offer, might be that, you know, it reminder, it's like, Hey, you like cheeseburgers.
I like cheeseburgers. Cool. You know, I like cheeseburgers while I think about all these cheeseburger places, but, you know, it's like, you know, but think about us, you know, come to us and offer urgency and, and, and, you know, the more you can as a business, understand what drives somebody. The more you can fine tune that offer so that, you know, like, I, I, you know, I may need to give a, buy one, get one to one guest, but I only need to give this guy, you know, a 10% off to get them in the door.
You know, what I'm understanding? Those differences is really understanding the expectations of the customer has how I can move them. And as from the business side, how can I minimize my costs in doing so? Yeah. Yeah, no doubt. Just don't ask me how to do all of this stuff, because that's where, that's where it becomes real hard.
No, no, that's a
Abhi: listen, that's, that's one brick at a time. Right. But right, Kevin, I mean, switching gears a little bit you know, I'm thinking about the listener is that. You know, potentially in your shoes, right. As, as a marketing executive and it could be at any level, right. It could be a growth marketer, CRM, marketer, somebody in product.
You know, one of the things I'd be interested to get your take on is, could you speak to sort of the important value, you know, as a marketer, as an organization, working with people, partners, teams, sort of outside of your function to drive better outcomes, how have you sort of managed that, you know,
Kevin: I mean, it's, it's a requirement, you know, I don't know what to say about that.
I mean, I, I think this is one of those areas for sure. That is, is it's tied into every element of the business. I mean, it's all the meetings that I have. So like you know, I launched the the Dave and Buster's rewards program back in November of this year. You were, there were several other agency partners that were there technical experts, other marketing components to stakeholders, as well as, you know, another really important aspect operations, you know, like you, you, you have to make sure that as you're introduced to new experiences, that you've, you've got people that have the expertise to to design the right.
The design, the right UX, the, what they see, and I'm going to speaking more specifically to like, you know, a program mechanisms, but also an app, you know, these days that that will showcase that th that the guests will interact with. But, but it's like also understand now what operational considerations does, does this introduce, does it make their job.
If it does, you're going to get no adoption, cause they're not going to talk about it. You know, it doesn't make the guest's life easier, you know, that's, that's, you know, that's, that's marketing, shopping viewpoint, but, but it has to be stakeholders across the company. I mean, you need buy-in for large programs like this or for small programs, you know, like I want to do a happy hour special.
I need operations that tell people about that to help drive the attach. I need to work with my social media team to make sure the message gets out. And it's worked with the creative teams, create content to support that, that social media or in an email. Is this something I want to go find new audiences and go tell about, okay, cool.
But you know, let's start looking at, you know, working with the you know, business intelligence team, which is either, you know, in-house or out of house to, to, you know, what are the segments? Like I work right now with a third party called. Where they consolidate credit card data, and I can use the insights to create lookalike audiences and retarget people that are doing the behaviors that I'm, that I'm looking to drive.
You know, so it's, there's, there's there's tools, there's people, there's all of these things that kind of weave together just to kind of launch one program. In some cases, you know, it's, it's rarely me by myself, rarely. I might be able to send a push notification by myself, but I can't, I can't create creative content.
You know, I, I don't, I don't run the stores, you know, I don't, you know, it's, it's a, it's a village for sure.
Abhi: No. And I mean, look, you know, I'm, I'm sure a lot of people listening agree with that, but you sharing your anecdotes you know, an emphasizing, I mean kind of point by point, right? Like even, and here's what I find fascinating even about, you know, what I do in customer success.
Right. And seeing the way all of these different groups, all the different people that have to come in to. Make something happen now data's a part of it, but it's not everything, right. It's just a means to an end. And you're right. Like, no, if we look at the end result or the end goal of establishing a great best in class loyalty program, to your point, that doesn't happen just because, you know, you're the one wise guy in the room and you can come up with all the strategy. Maybe I'm saying stating the obvious, but I think it's, it's it's, to me, that's always one of the things that I find fascinating. How many people in an organization have to get involved and maybe seemingly folks that you would never think are related. Like I've seen legal and finance, right.
Kevin: Yeah, I know. I know. I spent so much. I spent in, in launching this program, I had bi-weekly meetings with. You know just, just to understand the impact where we're going to drive, how we account for points you know, or what we're transitioning into, how we count for liability for offers that we're giving out and making sure they're comfortable.
But there's also things like, you know, the, that you don't think about sometimes it's like, I got to transition from something to something else, you know, what happens with the old thing? You know, there's, there's coordination with that. So there's, there's a lot of domino effects for sure. You know, as you introduced, you know, big things like a loyalty program or even just small things.
But yeah, technology, I mean, you know, technology, product managers, I mean, geez. I would say my you know, working at Dave and Buster's, we spent about nine months implementing you know, that the day most of the rewards program. And I would say the two people that I talked to the most. I mean, by far out of anyone in that company was my my, my, the senior director of store systems and our head of engineering, product engineering, you know, those, those are my biggest partners because, you know, like my, I was responsible for the, the end user customer experience.
And, you know, in a lot of cases, how I wanted the data to come out and be actionable, you know? So I need to work with the people who helped coordinate the technology implementation and how those systems talk to each other, you know at its core. And then, and then of course the people that knew how to build those systems without, without those people, I, you know, you just can't be like, oh, I want to buy a loyalty program and just go buy it off the shelf.
You can't do that. Even with the white label experience, there's integrations, you've got to make with, through, with your core products. Yup.
Abhi: Yup. No, I mean it's yeah, I mean, it's, it's one thing it's like, these things can't happen with that CRA without that cross-collaboration, but it's like, yeah. You know, when you have friends in those other departments and you can kind of band people together, I think that's where, you know, where some of the magic happens.
Kevin: But you know, it's funny, it's like just for I'm, I'm building a rewards program for for Ruby Tuesday. I I've talked to over 50 people in the company, you know, or solicited feedback from more than 50 people, just in the, in the design of the program and help understand, you know, from a cross-functional perspective, you know, what's important for their roles and what are the key considerations?
And, you know, it's also leveraging on internal now, knowledge and history of , you know, ver themselves with the company and how it's grown over time and their understanding of the customer and what works. and then now there's a whole bunch of it resources and additional partners they get to bring on I can't even tell you how many people were involved in the day of the mustard rewards launch, right?
Abhi: yeah. And I know, I thought I tip of that iceberg, but just for context for everyone that that's 50 people you spoke to. And how long officially has it been since you've been at
Kevin: eight weeks?
Abhi: Yeah. Eight 50 people over eight weeks. Right?
Kevin: For Cod I've spent this much of my time on the, let's see, tiny
Well, Kevin, I realize we're already over, over time a bit here, but I did, I would be remissed if I didn't get to some of the fun part of this game for, well, one's a question. The other, one's kind of a series of rapid fire yeses and nos. Okay. All right. So taking all the professionalism off, right?
Like forget data and you know, all this other stuff for you, if we think about all the different experiences you've ever went through, what is your. Bran slash and or experience and why,
Kevin: You know, like work experience or just like a company.
You know, it's, I mean, it just depends on the perspective, you know, it's like if I got to go anywhere just to browse, you know, I, I would say like 10 years ago I was like, best buy. I used to love best buy. Right. Cause it had all the new technology. Now I have it at my fingertips pretty much anywhere I go, you know, it's, it's, it's all online, it's ubiquitous.
But it's, it's, you know, I mean, it's so it's so good, but I dunno in taste change, but my favorite place to go is I'm, I'm a big board game hobbyist to I'm super nerdy like that. The more complicated, the better. But there's, there's one over here in Plano, Texas. That it's huge. I mean, they moved into like a grocery store a while back and it's, it's got everything you can imagine and it's just a bit wall to wall, just fun.
And it's just cool, that kind of stuff. But, but I. Browsing experience. I don't like, you know, like flipping through pages on Amazon. I like picking things up. I like looking at the back. I like imagining it, my hands, you know, stuff like that, but that's me.
Abhi: Awesome. Awesome. All right. These are fun.
They're most of them are, or yes or no, but you know, feel free to chime on pylon contexts, but we'll make these maybe. Yeah. Yeah. I won't let you get off that easy. No, no, no. Maybe there that we got to get answers to these, but alright. Pineapple on pizza. No, absolutely
Kevin: not. All
Abhi: right. We can keep talking,
Kevin: summer sports summer.
Abhi: All right. Yeah, I, we never really got into this. Like I, I guess I should've asked you like, you know, favorite sport, but I figured this is still relevant. You, you keep in touch with this LeBron or.
Kevin: Oh, come on. No contest. MJ. I also grew up in Chicago at that time, so I was there for the celebrations, no contest.
Abhi: Where we're three for three right now, we're, we're in alignment. Frozen yogurt or ice cream.
Kevin: I kind of go for the ice cream. Okay. I dunno. Tillamook is a, you know, they're known for their cheese, but they make a wicked ice cream. Let's go check it out. It is amazing.
Abhi: Shout out to Tillamook. Okay. And then last question, before you go, Kevin I'm a massive foodie. So I got to know this, a favorite restaurant in all of texts.
Kevin: Oh man. I am the worst person asked that I am the guy that I can eat ramen noodles every day for the rest of my life or even SpaghettiOs. It, it, I always have such a hard time figuring that out. You know, I was just afraid of my wife, you know, she she's got an opinion. I don't I'm going to struggle with that everyday of the week.
All right. Answer. I'm going to, I'm going to punt that one, sorry.
Abhi: Oh, fair enough. Fair enough. Well, listen, next time, you know, whenever we end this whenever we're past this pandemic and we can travel again I will look something up, Kevin. I promise I won't disappoint us. We're going to go have a nice meal somewhere.
Kevin: I actually go to Dave and busters. They're there. Their food's killer.
Abhi: Awesome. Awesome. Well, Kevin, I can't can thank you enough for this.
Kevin: Really appreciate you sharing all these insights. I think there's
Abhi: so much goodness here and I'm really excited to see you know, I mean two things, right? Both loyalty at Dave and busters, but you know what you got next and in store it
Kevin: Ruby Tuesday.
So it's going to be fun. It's all, it's a lot of challenges, but I mean, we, I think we're really set up for success. So I'm really, really excited about our future. So, but yeah. Thanks for asking. Thank you, sir.