Customers may come and go, but guests are special. Each one is an individual, and each one returns again and again because the company makes them feel special. Such is the heart of customer loyalty programs in most industries, where companies strive to treat their customers like kings. However, what happens when a national restaurant chain treats their guests to more than delicious burgers and brews? Guests not only feel special, they have fun feeling special.
Inviting Loyalty by Serving Fun
Red Robin’s unique approach to guest service takes the royal treatment to the next level. From serving random acts of kindness in the restaurant to presenting a “smiling” burger with all ingredients visible, the company lives its values. Their Red Robin Royalty program steps it up even further with a multi-dimensional approach to customer loyalty. The program offers standard rewards, such as free burgers or coupons, as well as exclusive, fun rewards tailored to the individual. For example, elite customers may get invited to tour a new restaurant or try a new menu item before the general public. Or mothers may be invited to a special meal on a day in May.
Red Robin understood that the secret sauce behind a successful loyalty program was the right technology. They needed a holistic system that could help them get to know their guests as individuals. In particular, two components were critical: a “system of engagement,” such as a loyalty program app, would provide an exceptional customer experience, and a “system of record,” such as a CRM platform, would collect and manage actionable customer data. Tightly integrating the two systems into a powerful, unified loyalty platform could give them a 360 degree view of their guests and help them cultivate long-term, highly personalized relationships.
Program Success Brings Growing Pains
In its first three years, Red Robin’s Royalty program had become wildly successful and outgrew the limitations of its legacy infrastructure. The web and iOS apps could not easily scale to handle increased traffic, and internal teams had to pull data from multiple sources in order to gather customer information. Moreover, the apps were managed by external agencies and Red Robin wanted more direct control over these valuable assets. To grow the program to its full potential, the company needed a one-stop, scalable solution that they could easily manage in house, and they needed to fully integrate their systems of engagement with their systems of record.
Building a Detailed Customer Portrait with Heroku and Salesforce
To realize their vision of a unified system, Red Robin developed a new architecture centered on the Salesforce and Heroku platforms, leveraging Heroku Connect. This approach offered them the stability, scalability, and performance they needed to deliver a great customer experience to millions of Royalty program members, and to ensure the internal teams had ready access to all the member profiles data they needed, with a “single point of truth” view for each customer.
On the employee-facing side, the Red Robin team implemented Salesforce Service Cloud, giving internal stakeholders access to fully consolidated information about their guests, as well as a palette of features and capabilities that they did not have with the legacy system. Customer relations teams can now provide faster, more attentive response to guest inquiries or issues. Marketing teams can deliver more effective campaigns across segments or the entire member base. With individualized records now in one place, these teams can finally access more granular analytics data rather than simply relying on aggregate data alone.
The customer-facing program experience is built on Heroku, with the user experience being delivered as a responsive HTML app. The app experience has improved in subtle but important ways -- everything is snappier and more reliable. And, with the stability and scalability problems solved by the Salesforce + Heroku architecture, the team has put major updates to its iOS and Android clients on their roadmap for the near future.
The development team building all this was small, about five developers for the bulk of the project. They already understood and appreciated the cloud approach, so they embraced Heroku almost from the start. They loved the developer experience, how easy it is to deploy apps and scale dynos, as well as the range of available Heroku Add-ons that save them time. They also appreciated the flexibility of the platform, and their confidence in it was demonstrated by choosing to use it to for their load test framework -- in other words, using the platform to test the platform.
All of the oars at Salesforce and Heroku seem to be rowing in the same direction we are. Features like encryption at rest, for example, felt like they delivered on our timeline. The development team really valued this – usually developers want to build everything themselves, but our team has built trust with Heroku. Evan Eakin, Vice President, Information Technology, Red Robin International, Inc.
The team choose an array of Heroku Add-ons to extend functionality and support productivity, including New Relic APM and Librato to monitor and troubleshoot issues, Tinfoil for security scanning, the Memchachier distributed memory caching service, Logentries for log management, and AdeptScale to automate dyno scaling. In addition, the team uses the Heroku Postgres database. Finally, the team greatly leverages Heroku Connect, which synchronizes data between the web and mobile apps and Salesforce, finding this to be the most valuable of all.
It’s Heroku Connect, the piece of Heroku that natively integrates with Salesforce at a data level, that truly makes this whole thing fly. If we didn’t have that, I can’t even fathom the effort it would take to build it ourselves. Evan Eakin, Vice President, Information Technology, Red Robin International, Inc.
The easiest way to understand the power of the loyalty program experience Red Robin has built is to register as Red Robin Royalty yourself. Members can access their Red Robin Royalty account on the web or on their iOS or Android device. They have a full view of all their accrued benefits, plus any news, events, or special deals specific to their profile and preferences, e.g. their nearest restaurant location, their area of interest, or their family status. There are even special benefits for active and retired military personnel. Members can choose to receive updates via email or text – so they can make timely choices around mealtimes.
The Salesforce Service Cloud console provides a unified agent experience, allowing teams to manage cases faster, maintain a knowledge base and collaborate internally via Chatter. Multi-channel support allows teams to reach out via social media, engaging consumers on their favorite channels.
Ultimately, Red Robin’s next generation system streamlines workflows across numerous internal functions so the company can focus on what matters most – growing and evolving the Royalty program.