Creating a custom CRM to launch KFC into the future of customer-defined service
We are helping KFC build the fast food restaurant of the future. A restaurant that integrates technologies with CRM to recognize and cater to the needs of each individual customer. In Moscow, KFC is opening a restaurant that has no cash desks, and where orders are brought by a conveyor and a robot. Evrone has extensive experience working with large international companies. However, the task of personalizing interactions with millions of KFC customers was a new challenge. One that we were excited to take on.
Today, KFC is one of the most popular fast food restaurants in the world. However, the company wants to give its franchisees even more room for growth, by using “big data” to better understand customer needs and increase personalized service. Using a KFC loyalty program, the company can get to know their customers by determining the answers to questions like:
- What product does the customer order most often, what do they like?
- Do they eat in the restaurant or take their food to-go?
- What sauces do they prefer?
- What do they think about the current special offers?
- What drinks do they choose in the morning and in the evening?
By accumulating customer information through a loyalty program system, KFC can improve customer knowledge and provide menu personalization, offering each loyal customer what they love and are most willing to buy. The self-service kiosks will showcase the customer’s favorite items, instead of forcing them to go through tedious inquiries and multi-page menus to find what they want.
Franchisee’s can use the loyalty management software to optimize their restaurant’s menus, based on customer trends. As a result, KFC stores will have the potential to earn more and gain new loyal customers.
In order to collect customer data and achieve this level of customized service, KFC needed to:
- Create a "recognition" system to track customers’ visit history and build unique customer profiles of regular visitors.
- Develop and implement a CRM solution for restaurants that would both streamline thousands of potential “sets” of customer offers and link them to the technological database.
Restaurant CRM software development, for a massive franchise like KFC, is similar to rebuilding a working airport. You need to improve every aspect of operations and infrastructure, without destroying what already exists and works along the way.
The attempt to find a ready-made CRM
Creating a CRM is a huge task. Therefore, at first, KFC sought advice from Evrone and asked for help in choosing a ready-made solution on the market. They hoped it would be possible to use a suitable CRM as a core, then “cover” it with the necessary modules.
Unfortunately, not a single solution satisfied the customer’s needs. No vendor could provide sufficient flexibility and leave the stores in control of user data, which was necessary to ensure that each customer’s personal information would be protected.
As a result, KFC decided to take on the ambitious task of creating their own CRM. Evrone’s job was to focus on the internal part of the service, everything that worked "under the hood" and would have to communicate with self-service terminals and other devices in the future.
Building a comprehensive CRM
Evrone designed and developed a CRM system that would cover all the needs of each individual restaurant and the franchise as a whole.
Its main modules include:
- Menus, ingredients, and allergens. The menu features convenient management of all modifiers: dishes, categories, images, combo dishes, fillers, volume, and quantity. This section also takes into account the timetable and special offers of each restaurant. Data from this section can be sent to self-service kiosks and to client’s mobile applications. As a result, restaurant employees can create a menu “on the fly”, and customers can easily manage their orders.
- Reference books. This module contains information about the KFC restaurants in every city and country, including legal entities, languages, external systems (for example, product identifiers), calorie content and other product properties, and prices in the currencies of the countries. Data can be grouped according to geographical principle. So, franchisees will no longer have to look for this information in separate information systems.
- Projects, placements, and media repositories. KFC restaurants have a lot of media platforms where they display information, including banners, billboards, and kiosks. The CRM provides a separate module for storing and managing this type of content, streamlining restaurant marketing campaign management. Each restaurant can change their current advertisements and promotional offers quickly and remotely.
- Segments. In the CRM system, franchisees can segment their audience by various parameters. For example, by gender, age, frequency and composition of purchases, and other personal data. As a result, franchisees can create individual offers for each custom segment. This allows them to improve engagement and customer satisfaction, increase the frequency of repeat purchases, and, in turn, earn more money.
- Stop Lists. This is an important part of the CRM that resolves a challenging issue in food service management. It allows restaurants to automatically remove dishes from the menu if a necessary ingredient is unavailable or equipment that is important for its production breaks down.
These are only the initial parts of the system that have been developed so far. The development roadmap for this project extends years into the future, and we are only at the very beginning of this journey.
Localization and tests
The standard working schedule and work-related laws of a country affect its CRM requirements. For example, in Israel, the working week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday. While, in Europe, there are very strict requirements pertaining to the collection and storage of users' personal data.
Therefore, each country has its own sequence of testing and launching the CRM system. In Russia, the system is already used in some restaurants, while KFCs in other countries may be preparing for testing or waiting for implementation. Thus, despite the universality of CRM, we have foreseen and prepared for the possibility of locally deploying it in each country of presence.
Localization testing requires special skills from QA engineers; this process has many pequliarities that affect the performance of the entire system. For example, for the Arab countries, where people read from right to left, you have to develop a new layout. There are also many difficulties with conventional translation: the encoding may get lost, some pieces of text will be left without translation - this often happens with user-friendly notifications and error messages. In addition, the volume of the text can change significantly during translation, so it will no longer fit organically into the necessary elements: banners, buttons, etc. Experienced QAs are aware of such features and can check all bottlenecks. Also, developing testing strategies in a microservice architecture requires a highly qualified QA engineer. The specialist needs to understand how microservices work, how they interact with each other and other components of the system.
The technological stack
The CRM is a Ruby on Rails application and two microservices.
- CRM. To develop this part of the system, the Ruby on Rails framework was used. This helped us build a very flexible system that focuses on the preferences of the customer. Since approaches and tasks in rapidly developing projects often change, it was this language and framework that helped us efficiently apply all the changes to the product architecture as they arose.
- UserAPI. It’s a high-loaded microservice for interacting with external devices. It was implemented in the Go programming language.
- StoreAPI. A service for spreading public information about the restaurants, such as geographical searches, timetables, special offers, and transferring data to self-service kiosks. StoreAPi helped us to transfer the heavily loaded parts of the system to the Rust language.
We wanted to ensure that a project of this magnitude and complexity would have all the support it needed to succeed. So, at the start of the project, we allocated 7 backend engineers and 9 frontend developers to the project. Apart from that, we did functional testing on the project.
The development of a food service industry CRM system that personalizes one of the largest fast-food chains, while taking into account all the intricacies of local laws and work features, is a monumental task. Despite the fact that the first version of the CRM system has been created and is already implemented in some stores, we are still in the initial stages of the journey, and we will continue to assist KFC in creating the world's first fully-customized fast food restaurants.
If you need help with loyalty program integration, implementing a CRM solution for restaurants, or improving marketing effectiveness, we’re always looking for innovative new projects to be a part of. Let us know how we can contact you, and we will be in touch as soon as possible to discuss your business challenges and how we can help you solve them.