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Hard Rock Cafe taps SMS to improve customer service

The Hard Rock Café is using a new mobile tool to improve its customer service and increase customer loyalty.

For the SMS initiative, the Hard Rock Café tapped the new Web-based software from ReadyPing Inc., a service provider of wait-list management and text-message paging. Text-messaging has the potential to fundamentally shift the way restaurants and other service-driven retailers manage customer wait times.

“Rise Sushi was the first of approximately 100 restaurants that tested ReadyPing’s beta system after it was released in January 2009,” said Joe Sprovieri, founder/CEO of ReadyPing, Chicago. “We listened very closely to all of their feedback.

“We also worked with businesses in other industries that inquired about using our service,” he said. “As a result, a completely new software platform was developed that can be used by any business with waiting customers.

“Hard Rock Café became the first official ReadyPing client when our new software platform was released in April 2010, and a number of other restaurants, hotels, resorts, hair salons and other businesses have also been signing up to use ReadyPing.”

Hard Rock Café  is a chain of theme restaurants that cover their walls with rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. In March 2007, Hard Rock was sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Currently, there are 163-plus Hard Rock locations in more than 52 countries worldwide, including 131 cafes and 13 hotels/casinos.

ReadyPing enables restaurants and other businesses to send text messages to alert customers when their product or service is available.

Any computer with Internet access can use ReadyPing to text customers with a touch of a button.

Texting nation
According to an AP-Ipsos poll, more than 50 percent of Americans refuse to return to businesses that made them wait too long. 

As mobile phone use surges, ReadyPing helps restaurants and other businesses manage their waiting customers more efficiently and enables them to easily send text messages to alert customers when their product or service is available.

In addition to restaurants, the company further developed its Web-based software to meet the needs of other customer-centric industries, including automotive, dental, medical, hair and nail salons, hotel/resorts, spas and game centers such bowling alleys.

ReadyPing works on any Web browser on any computer.

More than one computer at the same location can access the same wait list simultaneously. And if an Internet connection is interrupted, ReadyPing will continue to work in offline mode.

Text messages can be received by any mobile phone with any mobile carrier.

If a customer does not want to receive a text message, ReadyPing provides the option to call, page or find the customer the old fashioned way.

Customers choose to receive a text message approximately 98 percent of the time, according to ReadyPing.

After being notified that their product or service is ready, customers will not receive any other text messages.

The company spent the last year testing its software with dozens of restaurants, including Rise Sushi.

Input from those businesses, along with the expertise of a former Apple user experience developer, resulted in ReadyPing’s current interface. 

ReadyPing also announced the company is giving away one free iPad with each two-year prepaid subscription.

The iPad offers mobility for staff to leave the front desk and manage waiting customers on foot if needed.

Text-messaging platform for retailers
The proliferation of mobile phones and the increasing popularity of text messaging provide the foundation for ReadyPing’s strategy.

“Our service helps restaurants and other businesses manage their wait list more efficiently, while giving customers the freedom to wait where and how they want, all without purchasing expensive equipment,” Mr. Sprovieri said.

Pager systems cost thousands of dollars and have a limited range of operation, and the pager units themselves are often lost or damaged and need to be replaced, according to ReadyPing.

“ReadyPing is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service, and there is no hardware to buy or software to install and the range for sending text messages has no limit,” Mr. Sprovieri said. “Waiting onsite or elsewhere is up to the customer.

“Providing that option increases customer loyalty,” he said. “And ReadyPing doesn’t just send text alerts, it’s also a powerful management tool.

“Staff can keep track of reservations/appointments, see overdue customers at a glance and determine the accuracy of their quote times, all from our simple and intuitive user interface—owners or managers can even login remotely to keep tabs on their business.”