3 Ways Food Service Operators Can Win More Campus Contracts

The process of attracting new clients in any business is a tough and lengthy process, especially when the contracts stretch over a long period of time. There are multiple stakeholders and procedures that require close attention. When it comes to campus food service contracts, this can be even more difficult as food services play a key role in day to day lives of college students resulting in routine assessment of their performance by both administrators and students alike. Here are some tips food service operators can keep in mind when they’re going for those RFPs:
 
1. Show that you can interact with you students and provide a more personal service 
  • Allow students to rate and provide instantaneous feedback on your service
  • Know students by name
2. Stand out and have your own end-to-end solution for every campus
  • Have your own Point of Sale (POS) system to offer your campus clients
  • Take ownership of managing meal card services for the campus so you can create more value in your customer’s eyes
  • Have your own branded mobile app which students can use to store digital meal cards, check their balances, and much more

3. Have a Mobile Pre-order & Pay option on your branded app 

  • Allow students to skip the lines and order ahead
  • Give students the ability to pay with their phones along with standard meal cards

These are some of the areas we focus on with our campus food service clients like Fresh Ideas and Creative Dining.

Picture Verification Is Becoming More Important For Campus Dining

As a student, it can be enticing to sneak in a friend or two, to enjoy the all you can eat dining services on campus which are open to students who pay for a meal program. This of course is unfair to the students who do pay to access these services. As a food service operator, who plan their meal quantities based on the number of students officially enrolled into their programs, this places an unexpected burden. To combat fraudulent use of campus dining services, more and more food service operators are turning to technology to help them monitor their dining traffic to ensure only eligible students are able to access the services. At the core of these solutions is picture verification, which also protects students against theft.

“By introducing iPad tablet computers as POS devices at two of its dining centers, University of Connecticut (UConn) Dining Services has both sped up the process of admitting students and also cut down on fraudulent use of ID cards to gain entry. That’s because the tablets display a larger and clearer image of the cardholder than the photo on the card, making the identity verification process easier while flagging unauthorized users.” Read the whole story here.

Picture verification can also assist with identity thefts on campuses:

“Three men at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford have been arrested on allegations that they made numerous vending machine purchases with someone else’s student ID card.

According to a Bradford Era report, court records reveal that a student at the university reported her campus ID card lost when the zipper on her wallet ripped. Between the time the card was lost and the new one was activated, however, the student realized that someone had rung up $71.25 in vending charges.

Upon checking her account, the summary showed 51 purchases made at vending machines across six different campus buildings — 46 of which were made within a three-hour period.” Read the whole story here.

 

Looking for a Point of Sale system with picture verification built-in? Talk to us about our Lucova Campus platform.

The Benefits of Ditching Cash

A recent WSJ article entitled “Why your business should ditch cash?” detailed the trend towards card and mobile payments by businesses. Tech has enabled the cashless economy by making it easy for companies big and small to make the move. Here are some highlights from the piece.

Cashless businesses might face less crime

“After his business was robbed for the fifth time in just over three months, the owner of Park Cafe & Coffee Bar in Baltimore decided to do something that would have seemed radical for a neighborhood business just a few years ago: He stopped taking cash. It was a desperation move, but what happened next surprised owner David Hart. His sales didn’t go down.”

Transactions become faster and more effective

“A much larger experiment conducted by salad chain Sweetgreen, which has 66 locations on both coasts, yielded the same result. After a year-long trial, the company has decided to go completely cashless in 2017, says a spokeswoman. There were many factors in its decision, from increased transaction speed to the unhygienic nature of cash, but the first reason Sweetgreen’s spokeswoman cites is the same as Mr. Hart’s—keeping employees safe by reducing the chance of robbery.”

Customers have better, more convenient experiences

“Then there is the way we Venmo or PayPal our friends to settle personal debts instead of handing over twenties, the fact that you can now pay for parking with a credit card or an app instead of quarters, and the decline of cash-based toll booths—not to mention the rise of Apple Pay and its ilk, and of in-app payments for everything from ride-hailing services to takeout food. The net effect of all these small changes is that Americans of a certain demographic are simply falling out of the habit of using cash.”

Contact us at info@lucova.com to find out how our technology is enabling cashless transactions across North American campuses.

When Automation Makes Sense

Automation, and the removal of human interaction, doesn’t make sense for every sector as we previously discussed. But there are instances where its application has benefits. Zume Pizza, a one-year-old pizza chain startup, seems to be such a case. According to The Hustle, Zume Pizza wants to make the world’s most profitable pizza through robotics by hiring very few humans and using the savings for these benefits:

  • Zume uses the money it saves by employing fewer people to give the people it does employ better pay (delivery drivers make $18/hour, compared to $8/hour plus tips for places like Domino’s).

  • All workers receive fully subsidized health, vision, and dental coverage.

  • Thanks to spending just 14% of sales earnings on payroll (Domino’s spends 30%), Zume can source ingredients from nearby organic farms, even as it scales… which means more local farms will open and more people will be hired.

In this case, automation immediately has reduced human jobs, but downstream its giving more jobs to local farms and better wages for the small staff it employs.

“A similar thing happened when bar code scanners came out in the 1980s.

Dramatic prediction: No more cashiers ever! Actual result: Humans were still needed, and the number of cashiers grew by an average of 2% every year from 1980 to 2013.”

The takeaway? Automation is not all doom and gloom. As long as its appropriately applied, it can have a positive impact.

Humans of Commerce

More and more, technology companies are focusing on automation across industries. There are obvious benefits, like speed and convenience. But is automation, and the removal of human workers, the best approach for every sector?

Amazon recently introduced its grocery stores where customers can pop in, grab what they need and leave without ever interacting with a person. For quick purchases like milk and eggs, this concept works well. Apply the human-free, checkout-free concept across all retail concepts, and things start to look downright depressing. Commerce, whether it be buying food, grabbing a quick coffee or getting the latest styles, is a big component of communities – and communities need human interaction to thrive.

In our series #HumansOfCommerce, we get to know the staff and owners behind the coffee shops and retail stores that play a small, but important role in our day to day lives.  Our first feature is Sameer, who owns a popular chain of coffee shops in downtown Toronto:

“I’ve been in the customer service business for over 15 years now and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Getting to know customers and developing a relationship with them is the best part of what I do. We just opened up this new location recently, but at our Adelaide location, we know 85% of our customers on a first-name basis. My wife asked me the other day how I feel about businesses becoming more automated. Well, the day when things like coffee making and selling stop having human interaction, it will be a sad sad day for our community. Where I’m originally from, business was done based on trust and a handshake and it brought people together. That intimacy and regular interaction that you can have with customers is incredible. Technology can’t replicate the small chit-chats and exchanges that leave people feeling happy about walking into their local coffee shop.”

Tech Trends on Campus

In an effort to keep up with the technology preferences of their students, higher education institutions across North America are upgrading their services across the board to become more convenient and experience oriented.

 

Making Shopping More Convenient Shouldn’t Mean Removing Human Interaction

Amazon’s recent unveiling of its cashier free stores has generated a lot of buzz. Their just walk out technology, as they’ve branded it, allows customers to walk into an Amazon Go store by tapping their app, grabbing their items and simply walking out. The convenience that this provides is definitely incredible, but does that have to come at the price of removing human interaction?

As more and more industries automate, the small exchanges and connections we form, even if just for seconds, with other people seems to be getting cut. We’re so accustomed to seeing cashiers and sales associates everywhere that we don’t notice the important role that they play in our day to day lives and how they add to our daily experiences. If every type of physical store followed the Amazon Go model, we would be completely changing our everyday experiences, and not necessarily for the better.

 

Ramona Pringle, a technology columnist with CBC:

“You know what would be truly innovative? If a tech company started caring about how their products shape the lives of those who use them.

The tech industry has always promised us better quality of life. But somewhere along the line they got off course, confusing the idea of making our lives more convenient with making our lives better.

New features and functionality used to be enough to sell gadgets and get people talking. But the world we find ourselves in now, counting down to 2017, isn’t the same world of a decade ago, where we once waited with bated breath to see what Apple had in store at their launch events. Gadgets were aspirational, and there was an excited hopefulness around the potential of social media to bring the world together — maybe even to make us better, smarter, kinder versions of ourselves.

But at this point, we don’t really need thinner phones, or more megapixels, or new bots to take our coffee orders. What we need from the tech industry now is accountability: to care about how their products affect the lives and livelihoods of the people who use them, for better and for worse. That would be innovative.”

 

The Drum’s Lisa Lacy:

“Seamless is more than checkout-less.

But checkout and payment are hardly the only potential subpar moments in the consumer shopping experience. And that, in turn, is likely why some brands – like Brita, Brotherand Whirlpool – are part of the Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, which allows connected devices to tap into Amazon’s retail platform to build automatic reordering experiences for frequently ordered products like water filters, ink and detergent.

Here, seamless shopping is more about helping consumers avoid the pain of realizing they have suddenly run out of something.

But a seemingly infinite variety of pain points remain.

And that is perhaps why Laura Moser, shopper marketing practice leader at Momentum, defined frictionless shopping as “a dedicated and ongoing effort to anticipate the needs and desires of customers and solving problems before they experience [them, which allows them to] go down the desired path so they don’t have to think about how to get there or what comes next.”

In other words, frictionless shopping is really the movement of physical retail stores to understand they have to think differently about how they connect and sell to people and, in turn, seeks to make an entire brand more seamless and effective, Moser said.

Think of digital keys from hotel brands like Hilton and Starwood, which allow consumers to access their rooms with their mobile devices.

Or even Macy’s, which revamped the changing rooms in the swimsuit department of one location to include apps and swimwear delivery chutes to help make the dreaded experience of shopping for beachwear less awful and to encourage women to actually come to the store to try on bathing suits, which is something they cannot do online, Moser said.

And there are other as-of-yet unaddressed pain points in shopping for clothes, like, say, having to repeat your size even if you have purchased from a particular retailer previously, Goldberg noted.

“You need to remove friction from all versions of the experience,” he added.

And so before retailers leap to follow Amazon Go’s lead – the proverbial shiny object – they may be better off addressing their own existing UX issues and/or looking for alternate ways to improve the customer experience as it stands today as a means of coloring their own seamless shopping rainbows.”

 

 

The Power of Names

Have you been going to the same cafe, restaurant, or bar and the person serving you still hasn’t caught on to your name? Well, how about when they do greet you with your name (yes, the right name!) – feels good, doesn’t it? The relationship you’ve built, based on daily “good mornings” and quick but frequent smile exchanges, is no longer just in your head. As a happy customer your day is made better, but your happiness is also good for business. In our last post we talked about how happy customers are also more profitable – there’s  power in greeting someone by name.

Asking someone for their name shows that you’re interested in forming a bond and customers definitely appreciate personalization – 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. ( eConsultancy)

So, from a business perspective, if knowing the name of your customer improves their experience with your brand, increases retention and creates profit, then it’s definitely worth the trade-off. Here are a few tips for becoming a pro at the name game:

  1. Eliminate the awkwardness

We’ve all been at the receiving end of a Starbucks cup that says the wrong name. Whether it’s a name you haven’t heard before or it’s just loud around you, messing up on names is not fun. If you think you’ve got a name wrong or you’re having trouble saying, just ask. A quick “Am I saying this right?” or “Cool name! How do you spell that?” goes a long way.

  1. Once you get it, make use of it

There’s no use asking a customer for their name if you’re not going to use it. Once your customer has shared their name, make sure to address them with it for the rest of the encounter, without overdoing it of course. “So Alex, what can I get you today?” will automatically register the name with the face. This will help you keep the name in memory, creating a promising start to forming a loyal relationship. As they say: if you don’t use it, you lose it.

  1.  Outsmart your memory

Our memory tests us the hardest when we see someone unexpectedly – for some reason names become extremely hard to remember after a while. To make sure your memory doesn’t fail you, try to associate the name with another word or noun. For example, if the client’s name is Sandra and she’s always carrying a camera you can associate her as “Sandra the photographer”. Having a mental image will make it easier to store and retrieve the association from memory.

  1.    Get to know the person

It is much easier to remember someone that you had a genuine conversation with – customers will know if you’re trying too hard, and it’s a big turn off. The more you get to know someone, the easier you can form the kind of associations we’ve discussed. If you’ve noticed that Sandra always carries a camera, it may be worth your while to ask what kind of photographs she takes. When you become used to asking questions without being intrusive, getting to know the person behind the name, and transaction, will come naturally.

  1. Humanize Technology

There are lots of Customer Relationship Management tools that can help personalize your interaction with customers. 53% of marketers say that ongoing, personalized communication with existing customers results in moderate to significant revenue impact (DemandGen). Sometimes, remembering names in order to bond with customers is harder than it seems, so there’s no shame in applying humanizing technologies. This so happens to be one of our greatest strengths at Lucova – where we enable you to have customer names at hand in real-time, allowing you to focus on forming an authentic relationship with customers right from the start.

Quantifying the Value of Customer Experience

The value of customer experience can be quantified – here are some results from a recent HBR.org study.

People recognize the value of a great customer experience when they receive it, but a business must be able to quantify the organizational benefits in order to justify the additional costs that accompany.

As consumers, brands that deliver exceptional experiences are the ones that we want to interact with, that we become loyal to, and that we recommend to our friends and family. However, for executives leading businesses, the value of delivering such an experience is often a lot less clear and harder to quantify. Rationales for focusing on customer experience tend to be driven by a gut belief that it’s just “the right thing to do.” The problem with this mindset is that often, the question of whether experience is a priority or not simply becomes a battle of opinions rather than facts.

When measuring the ROI and impact of the customer experience, it becomes clear how significant the effects are. To understand the extent of the impact, let’s consider the basics of a company’s bottom line – revenue vs. expenses. The best solutions will grow revenue and reduce expenses. Here’s how experience commerce plays a role with these functions:

 

Increase Revenue

Transaction Based Businesses (Ex. Retail/Restaurants)

Using two common elements that are relevant to all industries: customer feedback, and future spending by individual customers.

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After controlling for other factors that drive repeat purchases in the transaction-based business (for example, how often the customer needs the type of goods and services that the company sells), customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more than to those who had the poorest past experiences.  The difference between a score of 9, which all businesses would celebrate, and 10 is 50%!

Subscription Based Businesses (Ex. Gym Memberships)

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On average, a member who gives the lowest score will likely only remain a member for a little over a year. Comparatively, the average member that gives the highest score is likely to remain a member for another six years.

 

Decrease Expenses

We often talk about great customer experience as a means to unlock revenue: you retain customers, realize more of their lifetime value, and mobilize an army of word-of-mouth marketers. However, there’s another significant benefit to the customer experience that is less talked about.

Could investing in great experiences actually end up costing you less over the long run? This might seem counterintuitive; a cost to eliminate costs. But over time, the costs that customer pain points create often exceed the cost of delivering a great experience.

Think about how much an unhappy customer (before they churn) costs you. They call your help lines. They file support tickets. They return products. Each of these instances is a touchpoint that represents a real cost to you. Depending on how you choose to resolve these instances (through refunds or discounts, for example), that cost could end up being quite high.

In the meantime, these same unhappy customers are likely to be telling others about their dissatisfaction. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs reports that unhappy customers will tell an average of 9 to 15 people about their experience — and 13% of those tell more than 20. As these unhappy customers ward off potential new customers, you may be forced to invest more in your marketing and advertising, which means less to invest in your customer experience and, therefore, more unhappy customers. It’s a vicious cycle that could end up costing you big time.

When you solve these pain points, you don’t just make customers happy — you end up reducing the cost to serve your customers, too.

 

Data Supports Experience Commerce

It’s time to stop the philosophical debate about whether investing in the experience of your customers is the right business decision. This isn’t a question of beliefs — it’s a question about the behaviour of your customers. Connect the right data and not only is it possible to quantify the impact of the difference between delivering a great experience and delivering a poor one, but it will also demonstrate to everyone in your organization just how big that impact can be.

 

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Sources:

HBR.Org

Medallia.com

 

 

Bluetooth Gets Another Boost With Indoor Location Services

The use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) will become as common as our use of WiFi (read a previous blog post on this topic here), especially as we move towards personalized experiences and services. This seems more likely, now that BLE is enabling indoor location services effectively (Similar functions have long been around for the outdoors with GPS and Google Maps, but the time has finally come for the indoors.).

The catalysts according to a recent Tech Crunch post:

1. Changes in our smartphones

Apple recently introduced iBeacon and Google launched Eddystone, both of which make Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) a standard on virtually every smart device. This means that every smartphone is now “location aware,” allowing stores, hospitals, schools, corporations, museums and more to deliver highly personalized services to anyone who walks in their doors.”

2. Introduction of new wireless infrastructure

“The second biggest infrastructure challenge to BLE deployment has been location accuracy. To use BLE for strategic functions like step-by-step navigation, asset tracking and push notifications, indoor location accuracy needs to be close to the one-meter range. Advances in machine learning, coupled with rolling BLE into Wi-Fi systems, have recently made this possible.”

3. Motivation

“Mobile users expect to be delighted by personalized experiences everywhere they go — inside as well as out. And companies want to engage more closely with users on their premises to deliver amazing mobile experiences. Hotels want to automatically check-in guests the minute they walk in a front door and give them step-by-step directions to their room or a nearby restaurant. Hospitals want to help people easily find their way to the lab or the cafeteria while also easily locating valuable equipment such as wheelchairs and infusion pumps. Retail stores want to notify shoppers of sales within specific departments and make it easy to find available staff for assistance.”

At Lucova, our proprietary In-store Success Platform is built on BLE technology and over the last few years it has allowed us to employ some really innovative solutions for our retail and campus clients.

 

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