There is no shortage of services that want to make ordering food quicker, easier and more efficient through mobile technology. But, a service that streamlines the dining out process by offering technology that gets to know the customer and anticipates his or her needs? That might just be something else entirely and it is exactly what TouchPoint hopes to deliver to the market. CEO Israel L’Heureux spoke to MPD’s Karen Webster about what TouchPoint is, what it does and how they are building a new type of customer food services experience.
(Jump to 0.23) “TouchPoint is an innovation platform really for brands that love their customers, believe in mobile, and want to connect more deeply with their customers and push far beyond the limited offering that they’ve seen in the market so far. We don’t look at mobile sales and loyalty as “built-on” components or just another data silo or sales channel, instead we think about creating customer experiences that are vastly better with mobile than without.”
Born from L’Heureux’s experience in France, where “the food is wonderful but the service is terrible” he began to ask himself what he, with an e-commerce and payments background – could do to make the experience of actually getting the meal on par with the experience of actually eating it.
This led to the next natural question: how do you build technology that knows enough about the customer that it can help streamline visits to the places that she usually goes to get her food?
The answer starts with the TouchPoint user’s first visit to a TouchPoint activated shop. When a new customer swipes a card to check out, the POS automatically triggers the chance for the customer to join the merchant’s rewards program. If they agree, it will ask them for their mobile phone number which will be used to push a confirmation message and rewards and establish a digital account with that merchant. All secured using encryption and tokenization.
Now the fun begins.
Let’s say that this customer is is in the habit of buying a soup and a salad at a particular place each day at 1:30 p.m. Using all sorts of machine learning and algorithms, TouchPoint’s system will recognize that preference and push a message around that time of day to the customer asking whether they’d like to order that same soup and salad. If yes, the customer can confirm the order, go in to the lunch place at 130 to pick it up, and have it paid for with a simple confirmation that the order has been retrieved.
(Jump to 2.03)”We have to start with a comprehensive understanding of who the customer is – their identity, their preferences, their payments’ credentials. We also have everything down to the level of what they’ve ordered, every physical visit, every interaction with the brand they’ve had across the web, mobile and physical domains – there’s a lot of actionable data in there. The next step is to then map that to the customer’s physical location and apply machine learning and algorithms to help us figure out how likely is it the customer wants to order right here, right now…Where appropriate we can push the customer a message…This is about using all kids of technology to improve the customer experience and create efficiencies for the food establishment. ”
According to L’Heureux, TouchPoint’s goal is to move beyond focusing on the technology, even though obviously what they do is fairly technical. Instead, the company wants to concentrate on building customer relationships.
L’Heureux believes that guests are usually not given the right attention partly because the owners don’t have the right data to create personal preferences and retain customer loyalty. TouchPoint’s system provides a “seamless connection” between big data, loyalty, POS, and mobile along with a local cloud. L’Heureux believes that coupons and promotions only address half the “recruit and retain” mission for most merchants – they are recruited, but they don’t come back. TouchPoint is now ready to fill in the other half of the equation by allowing merchants to build better customized offers that both recruit and retain customers.(Jump to 8:31) We’re trying to eliminate the feelings of transaction and push payments really to the background until they disappear—much like the Uber experience. You’re not really interested in paying for the soup and sandwich you’re interested in eating them, and deepening your relationship with them because it is easy.”
L’Heureux says that they are close to announcing a strategic deal with a key player they met at the PYMNTS Innovation Project 2014 with an official launch sometime after that.
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