Relevant's customized app collects key consumer data for restaurants

Relevant offers customized mobile applications for chain restaurants. Popular features include loyalty programs, surveys, and integration with social media platforms, all of which roll into a single CRM.

Specifications
Relevant offers customized mobile applications for chain restaurants. Popular features include loyal programs, surveys, and integration with social media platforms, all of which roll into a single CRM. Robust analytics are also available.

Cost
Pricing starts at $40 per month/store and there is typically no charge for the pilot or upfront build fee.

Ownership
Privately held.

User
Rachel Phillips-Luther, VP of marketing at Zoës Kitchen, has been using Relevant since April 2012.

How do you use it? 
We're a small company and we don't have a big budget for our app. Relevant's approach is fundamentally different from anyone else in the app space. Instead of one-size-fits-all solution and/or a company that will custom build your app and that's it, Relevant looks at app development as an opportunity to create a long-term marketing brand strategy and a long-term win.

The first nine months we worked with Relevant to figure out what we needed to get out of the app and what the customer was going to react to. They worked with us to determine how we could accomplish our business objectives and ensure that we could deliver something to customers that's user friendly.

They also worked with us to ensure that the app provides us with insight into our business and customers on the back end so it's not just a purchase vehicle. Instead, it's an avenue for us to discover something new about customers and ensure we're keeping a constant pulse on our service and our business.

During the first wave, the relationship is collaborative and creative. Once you launch the app, it then becomes a relationship in which you're looking at data and making decisions based on the insights. All the data we collect is reported into a real-time dashboard that Relevant provides.

You log on to your dashboard through a custom URL. I log on every day – because it's so new. Going forward, Relevant has set it up so that the dashboard will push me weekly custom reports.

The dashboard has a variety of information, and it's really easy to use. Everything is summarized by category on the first page. You can dive deeper the more you want to know. You can look by region, store, or nationally. It's layered, and it doesn't require any training to navigate through the data.

Our app also functions as a guest-satisfaction tool. Every time one of our guests takes a picture of their receipt and uploads it to the app, they get a reward, which we call a goody. The goody is different every time – it might be a free drink one time and a free lunch the next.

Once customers submit their receipt they're immediately prompted to answer three questions related to food, service, and their overall experience. I also wanted an open-ended box that asks if they want to tell us anything else because there's no better way to figure out more about customers and how to tell your story than by asking them an open-ended question.

Scores based on answers to the three questions about food, service, and overall experience come in, and the dashboard reports collectively on all that data and breaks it down by store. I can also access frequency of use data. 

I was nervous at first about how my team of three was going to sort through all the information generated by the open-ended question.

We use another vendor called New Brand Analytics, which scans the entire digital world on a daily basis for mentions of your brand. They grab mentions and have this program that scans the insights, tells sentiment, and draws connections. I thought it would be great if I could somehow get the comments generated by the open-ended question on the app to New Brand Analytics so they could code the comments and report on them. We had to create a custom path, but Relevant and New Brand Analytics worked together to do it. 

If the app isn't working properly and a consumer finds it, there's a help email in the app. Relevant responds to those 24 hours a day. If the dashboard isn't working I'll call or text my account representative, who has never taken more than an hour to get back to me. 

How does it serve your business needs?
We have 82 stores in 14 states. The app is helping us meet four primary business objectives – to increase online orders; to make our menu and nutrition information more user friendly; to begin collecting and understanding information about the guest experience and guest satisfaction; and to be able to tell the brand story without having a lot of dollars to invest in traditional advertising or media.

The app basically makes an immediate connection to online ordering. We didn't previously have a mobile friendly online ordering experience.  

Relevant built us a custom touch and navigate nutritional calculator that's very user friendly, and it really helps customers get the information they want when they're standing in line.

The name Zoës means "life," and we built the entire app around telling that story. Every feature and component of the app ties back to the brand. 

The app has only been nationwide for about a month so the open-ended data is still young. We have seen some trends. For instance, we had had internal conversations about adding tabouli to our menu, but we weren't sure if customers were open to it. Tabolui has popped up in the open-ended response data, so we didn't have to dig much further on the topic – without prompting they're willingly telling us they want it.

Overall, I now have an app that's fun for guests to use. They upload receipts so I have better insight into what they're ordering. I have guest satisfaction data to better understand how restaurants are doing, and I have data that will help me make better decisions as marketer.

How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from an IT standpoint?
It's Web-based, and that was one advantage for me. They identified a way to issue rewards that didn't have to integrate with our point of sale system. The only other technology it talks to is New Brand Analytics.

What are the main benefits?
Relevant is young and aggressive – there's no idea that's too big. They're thinkers, and they're ready to meet any challenge. They've never told me no, and I love that.

They're also incredibly organized, which can be unusual for tech vendors. They don't miss a beat. Every round of working on the app with Relevant was perfect. It was a really pleasant experience. As a marketer, tech is not 100% in my wheelhouse, and that was never an obstacle.

Customer service is really outstanding. They work in partnership with you to protect your brand. They really worked to get to know who we were as a company and what our brand was about.

The app works – the test was very thoughtful and we addressed any and all issues in the test so when we launched nationwide there were very few issues. It's difficult to find that level of service and trust with tech company.

What are the main drawbacks?
From my personal perspective, the only drawback is that other companies can now execute something similar to me.

What would you like to see improved / added?
They're really good about staying on top of new technology, and they know mobile payment is something I want to pursue when the time is right.

Competitors
Companies such as Arkenea Technologies that develop apps and services such as AppTank that route project submission requests to app developers.

Digital agencies that develop apps and businesses such as Service Management Group (SMG) that offer services and tools to measure customer satisfaction and experience.

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