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Chick-fil-A revamps mobile ordering experience with personalized reward offers

Chick-fil-A is firing up a new mobile application, called Chick-fil-A One, enabling users to customize meals, order ahead and take advantage of a new feature that surprises consumers with complimentary favorite items, highlighting the need for preference-based loyalty programs.

The fast-food chain is hopping on the mobile loyalty bandwagon by giving frequent customers the ability to earn free menu items based on their previous orders and preferences. Chick-fil-A is also complementing the new app with a welcome incentive that gives new users a coupon for a free chicken, grilled chicken or spicy chicken sandwich, leveraging a popular download-driving tactic used by its competitors.

“We are always looking for ways to put our customers first and provide them with great experiences,” said Michael Lage, senior manager of digital experience at Chick-fil-A. “We felt like integrating that experience into the app was important – so we’ll be thanking them for their loyalty with surprise offers for their favorite Chick-fil-A menu items.

“The app will save favorite orders and get smarter over time – offering customers choices of their favorite foods for free.”

Latching onto mobile ordering
Per a recent study commissioned by Chick-fil-A, 82 percent of millennial parents claim they would take almost any measures to avoid waiting in long lines at fast-food restaurants when their children are in tow. Nearly half of these respondents admitted they would rather skip going to the restaurant than be forced to stand in line.

This prompted the chain to introduce Chick-fil-A One, a new mobile app that gives individuals additional choices to better suit their needs. Users can leverage the app to customize meals, pay for orders prior to arriving at the restaurant and skip long lines at the register.

Consumers can personalize meals to their exact liking. The food will be prepared as soon as the customer checks in at the restaurant location via the app. The check-in tool will then signal the kitchen to begin preparing the order, ensuring that ingredients remain fresh.

With the new app rollout, Chick-fil-A sought to provide more convenience to time-strapped guests, a notion that led to the brand revamping its mobile ordering experience based on customer feedback.

Chick-fil-A One will replace the company’s previous app and also include a new feature that may interest loyal customers – a membership program. The program will give consumers complimentary menu items based on their previous orders and preferences.

As individuals use the app, it will learn their favorite orders more readily. Users will also be able to track their journey to the next reward in the app.

The first iteration of the Chick-fil-A app was introduced in 2012, while the mobile ordering pilot entered the market in 2013. The new Chick-fil-A One app will still allow users access to preexisting features, including a restaurant locator and allergen information.

The brand has been steadily updating its mobile offerings with the latest payment technologies, showcasing the necessity for fast-food chains to stay relevant by providing seamless checkout processes on smartphones.

In January, Chick-fil-A modernized its app in an attempt to stay competitive in the crowded mobile-ordering field by including integrating 3D Touch (see story).

The brand also played catch-up to the slew of quick service restaurant chains incorporating Apple Pay into their mobile apps by gradually rolling out the payment platform’s capabilities to locations nationwide in February (see story).

Incentivizing app downloads
Chick-fil-A is rewarding consumers who download the new app anytime between June 1 and June 11 with a coupon for a free chicken, spicy chicken or grilled chicken sandwich, which is redeemable through June 30.

Welcome incentives have been a frequently-tapped trend by many fast-food chains seeking to capitalize on new customers and persuade existing fans to make the switch to a new app.

Additionally, Chick-fil-A is maximizing the volume of new app downloads by giving consumers a unique way to place the app on their smartphones – by using the hashtag #CFAOne in any Tweet, an action that will make a custom horizontal cow emoji appear.

The emoji’s appearance will give users a prompt to download the app directly from Twitter.

This tactic could prove to be a hit with younger consumers active on Twitter and could give the app rollout additional organic social media buzz.

“We are excited to be one of the first fast-food companies to partner with Twitter on this call-to-action activation,” Mr. Lage said.

Chick-fil-A One is also available via Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Ultimately, the welcome offer and Twitter activation will likely be responsible for garnering new Chick-fil-A fans as well as furthering loyalty from existing customers.

“While we know that the free sandwich offer is a great motivator to download the app, ultimately we hope that it will encourage customers to experience the multiple features of Chick-fil-A One: mobile ordering, mobile pay, order customization, nutrition information and more,” Mr. Lage said.