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Mobile Marketing

Customer Feedback Management is the Heart of Food and Drink Apps

Anu Hastings  //  February 7, 2019  //  7 min read

The convenience and near-instant gratification offered by apps in the Food and Drink category is a key part of our modern-day lives. Food and drink apps straddle both the physical and digital worlds, and work to blur the lines between the two. According to AppAnnie’s 2019 State of Mobile Report, consumers sourced food and drinks through apps 130% more often in 2018 than in 2016. The report attributes this growth mainly to the increasing popularity of both fast food apps (QSR—Quick Service Restaurants) and the rise of food delivery services.

Clearly, people enjoy the convenience of having their meals delivered without having to talk to someone on the phone, or repeating their address and credit card information every time. Globally, UberEATS and Zomato were the top two food delivery apps by worldwide downloads in 2018. Jumping on the delivery bandwagon, Starbucks has announced its plans to deliver via UberEATS in the US this year. The potential reach of food and drink apps is just being realized.

What matters above all else in food and drink apps is stellar customer experience and service. There are many moving parts that must come together for a customer to have the best experience possible, including variables like availability of delivery vehicles and logistics staff, traffic, or a restaurant’s capacity to handle fluctuations in order volume so that the meal delivered is always hot and fresh.

When there are so many factors you can’t fully control, proactively collecting and listening to customer feedback is crucial to making sure you can continue to deliver delightful experiences. Here are five customer feedback management strategies to use.

1. Acknowledge and Nurture Customer Loyalty

Loyalty programs provide QSR apps an effective and efficient tool to incentivize customers to place repeat orders. Using the data collected through the programs, apps can then offer personalized deals to customers to further nurture their loyalty and business. McDonald’s often offers flash deals and $1 food and drinks to encourage customers to buy more.

You could take a more marketing-heavy approach to turn heads, but don’t expect it to drive lasting loyalty. For example, in early December, Burger King ran an interesting play. They leveraged location-based advertising by offering a Whopper for 1 cent to people within 600-feet of a McDonald’s. According to AppAnnie, the effort paid off—Burger King hit number 1 for daily iPhone downloads of food and drink apps in the US on December 4, and retained that rank for nine straight days. These kind of tactics are great in the short term, but don’t always yield long-term results. For that, brands need to build a relationship with customers and understand how customers feel and what they want at every step of their journey with you.

2. Listen Deeply and Better Understand Your Customers

The food and drink category is extremely competitive and dynamic. There’s always another delivery app or loyalty program trying to lure customers away. According to a study by PwC, even when people love a company or product, 59% will still walk away after several bad experiences, and 17% after just one bad experience. So, if you have a food delivery app and there are unexplained delays in delivery, or a surprise charge that wasn’t explicitly stated, or there’s no delivery progress tracker, it’s almost inevitable that a customer will never use your app again, and will also likely leave you a bad rating or review.

Reach out proactively to your customers by pre-empting some issues. If you’re experiencing a lot of traffic on a particular Saturday night, consider using a note to communicate possible delays to your customers. Make sure it is easy for customers to contact you in real time. Incorporate an in-app feedback button that people can use to connect with your customer service team. Customers shouldn’t have to leave the app or look up some phone number to call you when something goes wrong. Make it easy for them to leave feedback.

3. Unlock Your Silent Majority

When you’re in the business of instant gratification and convenience, there are going to be very happy and very unhappy customers alike. We call this the “vocal minority,” and this group makes up less than 1% of your customer base. The vocal minority is made of up of two groups of customers: those who are at risk, and those who are VIPs.

The Silent Majority of Customer Feedback

The at-risk customers are the ones who leave a scathing review after a late delivery, or delete your app because of a hidden fee they weren’t expecting. The VIPs are your loyal fans whose drink has always been steaming hot and ready when they placed an order online, or they have enjoyed personalized deals and offers on their repeat orders. They will shower you with love in the app stores.

While their feedback is great and certainly provides a starting point, you have to be cognizant that you don’t hear from the majority of your customer base—about 99% of them, in fact. These customers may not be your biggest fans, but they’re generally satisfied with your app because it does the job. You have the opportunity to turn them into superfans by reaching out and asking them for feedback. To start, run a short, open-ended survey and ask what changes they would like to see, if there’s a particular functionality they’d like you to improve, or if the checkout process is smooth and seamless. These customers want to share their feedback, even if they haven’t expressed it. Our research shows that customers who are interacted with are four times as likely to continue using your app after three months.

4. Let Customer Feedback Drive Your Product Roadmap

Customer feedback is a treasure trove of ideas for driving your product in the right direction. For instance, maybe customers want a functionality where they can easily split checks with their friends when they go out, or a social media integration that will let them quickly share pictures, or a way to have their food be ready at a given time. Some of these features could be on your roadmap already, and some will be brand new. Either way, hearing from a wide base of customers and learning what’s really important to them will help you prioritize which features to work on first. Check out our productivity quadrant to help you prioritize and plan effectively.

The customer’s voice is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. It’ll enable you to make data-driven decisions and align teams across the organization around a single point—the customer. You can present your findings from interpreting feedback to every team touching the product and make sure everyone is on the same page.

5. Follow Up and Close the Loop

Customers don’t want to share feedback if it’s going to go into a vacuum. Leaving customers feeling like their feedback doesn’t matter is going to hurt your brand more than you think. Make sure you thank customers for their feedback, maybe even with a reward like free loyalty points.

Also, always close the loop once you take action on feedback. If a customer has alerted you to a bug in your ordering flow, make sure you let them know it’s been fixed. The more you engage with customers, the deeper your relationship will get.

Partnering with customers has many benefits for your product journey. For instance, you can enlist a cohort of fans to test out a beta version of your new app. No amount of testing can replace actual people using your app. The feedback can power your focus and direction for the future.

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The food and drink apps space is highly competitive and constantly changing. There’s always somebody who’s going to come along with a more cutting-edge technology. In order to remain competitive, you need to ensure you have your finger on the pulse of the customer sentiment and provide a stellar customer experience that wows and delights people.

Are there other strategies you use to collect customer feedback? We would love to hear from you.

About Anu Hastings

Anu is the Content Marketing Manager at Apptentive. She is passionate about content development, SEO, and data-driven storytelling. She enjoys writing about the impact of customer communication and feedback on businesses. A proud University of Washington alumna, she is an experienced writing and communications professional with a background in technology, consulting, and academia.
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