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    Dining digitally: A menu of new options emerges

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    “App” is not shorthand for “appetite” — although, given the growing availability of digital technology designed to cater to people’s stomachs, don’t be surprised if two words soon start to blend in the public’s subconscious.

    More and more consumers are enjoying the enhanced foodservice options that come with living in the age of convenience. For a new generation of patron, gone are the days when dining out begins with opening up a bulky menu card in a restaurant. Instead, the ideal experience involves scoping out your selections with a virtual drop-down menu on your smartphone long before you are in a position to browse the actual menu at your eatery of choice. In some cases, you can even use your phone to pay the bill.

    Restaurant chains and food service companies are seizing the opportunities which apps afford them to build their brands and to strengthen customer loyalty.

    Even conglomerates with a largely captive customer base are seeing the wisdom of appealing to their clientele with foodservice apps.

    A shining example of that corporate attitude can be found at Compass Group Canada, which provides food and hospitality services at a variety of institutions and venues across the country — including schools, universities, senior communities, arenas, stadiums, more than 3,000 offices as well as remote workplaces like mining camps. 

    So how does the Compass mobile dining app — downloadable for free on iPhones and Android devices — help serve the customer better? You name it.

    If you’re in a hurry, you can use the app to pre-order, pre-pay and skip lineups. If you’re discerning about your diet, you can access content aggregated from various websites that provide detailed nutritional information for each entree.

    The app is also a communication tool between the outlet and the client — it can make you aware of special offers and promotions and you can provide direct feedback to the management of the eatery in question.

    Of course, all app users already provide feedback, whether they realize it or not, through their choices and preferences. While clients are lunching, a whole lot of data crunching is going on behind the scenes. Compass Digital Labs’ app designers delve into human habits, optimizing solutions depending on the venue or the type of customer. 

    “When we’re in a stadium, our designers go in and understand what a sports fan does from the moment they wake up until to the time they get to their seat,” says Humza Teherany, CIO of Compass Group Canada. “If you’re a patient in a hospital, a fan in a stadium, or an office worker, we try to understand what you value. We build our digital solutions around that — because you can’t bring value to someone’s day-to-day life without knowing them.” 

    Compass Canada didn’t always see the advantages of this kind of customer engagement. Under Teherany’s guidance, it embraced that vision five years ago with the launch of its Digital Hospitality platform, and the results have been spectacular. The digital strategy shift has been instrumental in growing Compass Canada’s revenue to $2 billion a year from $1.4 billion, says Teherany. In some locations Compass serves, where the demographics are digital-friendly, mobile transactions account for 10 per cent of its business — and that’s rising fast.

    So the bottom line of the app revolution is that customers are more satisfied while the company continues to grow. 

    Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?

    To learn more about Compass and its digital transformation powered by Dell EMC, download this case study 

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    Steve Proctor
    Steve is Vice-President Marketing and Communication with ITWC. He spent 25 years in progressively senior positions as a journalist and editor with the Halifax Herald, with his final ten years as Business Editor. He has published two books and his freelance articles have appeared in national and regional magazines. He has led social media and communication efforts for two crowdfunding ventures and written and directed numerous dinner theatres for charitable endeavours.