Zoës Kitchen’s mobile app delivers data and a smile

In February, Zoës Kitchen joined the growing ranks of fast casuals offering a smartphone app. Free for download on iTunes and Google Play, the LIFE  app—Zoë translates to life in Greek—gives guests the ability to earn ‘goodies,’ while providing the concept with a vehicle for measuring guest satisfaction.

The app, with 30,000 downloads, also allows users to locate the closest Zoës Kitchen and order online; set and track life goals, such as eating healthy, spending time with friends or giving back to the community and access a nutrition calculator for menu items.

Like everything else that unfolds at Zoës Kitchen, LIFE is a reflection of founder Zoë Cassimus' passions—not just for fresh food, a given at the concept, but also being able to help guests get the most out of their lives, says Rachel Phillips-Luther, vice-president of marketing.

“In creating the app, we were looking to create a system that could share a smile with our guests outside of the store, while reinforcing what the brand is about,” says Phillips-Luther. “As the brand grows (it now has 82 locations in 14 states—with four more restaurants poised to open in the Philadelphia area), we wanted an easy channel for guests to connect with who we are.”

Rewarding loyalty

Developed by Relevant Mobile, the app is tied to a loyalty program—specifically created for the smartphone set—that rewards guests for every purchase over $7.

The reward, or goody, is not tied to how much the guest spends; in fact, how Zoës Kitchen allots the goodies is a trade secret. The goody can be anything from a free cup of ice tea or cookie to a complementary entrée; each reward also has its own expiration window.

“What we found is that our core customer is a really busy and intelligent woman, often with a family,” says Phillips-Luther. “They want to feel that we appreciate their visit; they aren’t in it for the discounts. This program demonstrates to our guests that we appreciate every single time they come in and enjoy Zoës Kitchen.”

Each time guests use the app to upload a receipt, they are asked to complete a quick survey about the quality of the food, service and their overall experience. “We wanted to bypass the traditional guest satisfaction programs; while we have their attention, we ask key questions that are critical to the brand,” says Phillips-Luther. “We now have great information on what’s happening inside the restaurants.”

While it’s too early in the game to determine just how much guest counts are improving as a result of LIFE, there is anecdotal evidence that individual units are seeing more of their guests. “With rewards sitting in their goody bag, guests are motivated to come back in and claim the reward,” says Philips-Luther.

Zoës Kitchen projects the app will drive more than 1 million visits to their operation. Although only two months old, the response to the app has been “glowing,” says Phillips-Luther.

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