In the online world, consumers are used to experiences — in eCommerce, social networks and media experiences — that are personalized, consistent and contextual.
Carlos Gómez, cofounder and CEO of consumer recognition system Cheerfy, called these “perfect experiences” in a recent interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster.
“You go to Amazon or Netflix,” Gómez said, “and you are greeted by name, offered something that makes sense for you. The way you are experiencing these services removes any sort of friction.”
Offline, it’s often a different story.
While much has been made of retail’s and other services’ shift into online spaces, Gómez noted that a majority of the world is still offline and that we are years away from translating the full online consumer experience into the physical world. But Cheerfy is looking to close that gap.
Cheerfy is currently concentrated in the U.K. and Spain, though there is an early presence in the U.S. by way of some restaurants in New York City. In a nutshell, Cheerfy’s system is a Wi-Fi-based customer recognition system for restaurants, retailers and the hospitality industry.
“We’re trying to bring the beauty of the online world offline,” Gómez said, “through a technology that enables retailers to recognize customers in real time, enables them to act upon that recognition.”
There’s no mobile app to download, which Gómez noted is critical. The vast majority of restaurant-goers — 95 percent, according to Gómez — don’t download restaurant apps.
“But by using Wi-Fi as a way to draw people in,” he said, “you can increase the number of people in your records, and you can engage with them. In the cases where there is a preexisting application, we help to promote and personalize it.”
Cheerfy acts as a link to turn customers who were not previously registered, Gómez said. Consumers looking to log into a restaurant’s or store’s Wi-Fi are prompted to sign up for Cheerfy’s system, which then generates profiles on customers by using social media credentials and a light survey.
“With these two components, we have a basic profile about you,” Gómez said. “A customer card that indicates what your preferences are. It also enables us to detect you in real time the next time you are at the restaurant, and in that case, you’ll be automatically connected.”
Returning to any location in a restaurant chain, for example, will trigger action — sending a personalized message on arrival or departure, as well as notifying employees in real time that a customer has arrived and showing a customer card indicating what a consumer’s preferences are.
“You’re going to have better service. You’re going to have special discounts. You’re going to have gifts on your birthday,” Gómez said.
On the restaurant’s end, Cheerfy’s system doesn’t require new hardware and integrates with a restaurant’s existing Wi-Fi, app and CRM.
“Think of Cheerfy as an app for an app,” Gómez said, “enabling you to engage your customers in real time through SMS, through email or through your application. Cheerfy will not add another communication channel. We use existing communication channels to generate a bidirectional flow of information,” Gómez said.
Cheerfy leverages existing consumer data and intelligence that already exists about customers in a restaurant’s app and CRM. At the same time, it feeds new customer data to the existing CRM with new information.
Additionally, Cheerfy’s system relies on customer intelligence gathered by employees. The system enables employees to tag customers with particular traits and preferences when they see consistency in behavior. The next time a customer comes in, the server will see the tag in the customer’s profile.
“If I drink sparkling water every time I visit a restaurant,” Gómez said, “the server is in a position to tag me, uploading that information into a central CRM, providing them with information to help them provide the best service.”
Cheerfy fills an essential offline gap in online consumer experiences, Gómez said. “You go to Yelp to decide where to go. You book on OpenTable and use Google Maps to find the restaurant,” he said.
Next in line comes payment.
For Gómez, the point of sale is an intriguing space on Cheerfy’s radar that could one day represent a major opportunity for augmenting the personalized consumer experience.
“It’s an aspect of the conversation,” Gómez said. “You’re in a position to detect customers in real time. If at some point you are able to access the credit card or any sort of payment, you are in a privileged position for that payment to be completely seamless.”
The point of sale represents a goldmine of information for Cheerfy, though one that, as of now, is missing a key ingredient: the who.
“They are completely anonymous,” Gómez said. “If you are able to de-anonymize that database, that can have a huge impact on consumer intelligence. For us, integrating with the elements that are around the point-of-sale ecosystem is a key driver to enhance our ability to profile people — and, by extension, to personalize their experience.”