Back in June 2016 ARC analyzed the mobile user sentiment of the native Android and iOS apps of 55 of the top 100 restaurant brands. In order to qualify for the analysis, brands had to have a native Android and/or iOS app with a statistically significant cumulative volume of app store reviews. ARC ranked the chains based on a weighted average of their Android and iOS mobile user sentiment scores (see image below).

ARC-Restaurant-Apps.pngThe study confirmed the brands that industry publications tell us are the best at mobile align with consumer belief as well.  What was surprising however, was the disparity between the best apps and the worst. All of which, as mentioned, belong to 55 of the top restaurant chains, which is to say we’re comparing apples to apples here.

So where did the low ranking brands fall short? We’ll take a closer look and discuss some best practices and tactics that all brands can employ to beat the best.

Wendy’s, one of the largest, most recognizable fast-food chains, was among the brands with the lowest mobile sentiment--and looking at their minimal reviews in the app store it’s easy to see why. Consumers did not hold back feelings. Headlines read: “Why do I need this app?” “Still useless,”, “So stupid,” “Minimal benefit,” “Worst fast food app in USA,” “Absolute Hell,” “Pointless,” “Terrible” and “Useless App.”

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Wendy's-Reviews-iPhone.pngAnd the list of brands with consumers disgruntled over their app goes on...

Panda Express: “Not an app,” “No in-app online ordering,” “Biggest waste of an app,” “Not a good app at all,” “App and website total garbage,” “Useless!” “Worst App,” “Don’t waste your time,” Truly pointless.”

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Panda-Express-Reviews-iPhone.pngRed Robin: “This App is Cr@p,” “Disappointed”

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Red-Robin-Reviews-iPhone-1.pngJason’s Deli: “Dated, easier to just call,” “App needs a make over,” “not worth the data”

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Jason's-Deli-Reviews-iPhone.pngOne of the biggest complaints the body of the reviews revealed is consumer discontent with these brands’ lack of, or subpar, mobile ordering and rewards functionality. Sounds like an easy fix, right? To a certain extent it is, but there’s a way to provide features like mobile order, mobile pay, and rewards that will set those brands apart from the competitors that already have those features. It comes down to delivering a personalized, real-time experience that delights customers--incorporating app features that create convenience and to put it simply, give them free stuff they actually want.

We often see that many QSR brands focus heavily on spend-based programs. This is an expected element of almost any loyalty program but brands that have taken it to the next level or want to take it to the next level should also consider rewarding non-spend activities. For example, why not simultaneously gather feedback and deepen relationships with consumers already engaged with your brand (a.k.a your customers with the highest LTV)? Killing two birds with one stone is possible by rewarding customers for completing a brief survey in your app. Refer-a-friend is another great example of non-spend activity.

These low ranking apps also struggle to make customers’ lives easier. QSR customers--and customers of any industry for that matter--are motivated to download an app and create a profile when they can get access to stuff they can only get once they have downloaded the app and given up their info. Otherwise, as some of the user reviews reveal, the app is “useless” and a “waste of data.”

Quick service restaurants are all about just that...quick service. And the ability to get food as fast as possible is perhaps even more important to consumers than how it tastes compared to another brand’s. In order to meet this demand, QSRs need to give customers the ability to order their favorite meal in advance so they can skip the line and simply grab their food when they arrive in-store.

Going from worst to best requires QSRs to create a seamless app experience by providing features that make consumers’ lives easier and reward them with personalized perks based on data about things they like, survey feedback, and more. To succeed in the competitive QSR marketplace, brands need to get fast and convenient…or die for lack of trying.