Digitization was shaping consumer expectations of restaurant and quick-service restaurant (QSR) loyalty programs long before the pandemic. The operating challenges of the last two years have directed brands to focus more aggressively on blending emerging technologies with more delightful rewards programs that drive loyalty and meet expectations. Capital Tacos is one QSR brand that embraced the opportunity in the pandemic to modernize its technology infrastructure in ways that enable it to meet customers’ heightened expectations.
“The industry-leading stack we rolled out in 2021 includes the top online ordering, rewards, app and gift card solutions out there,” Josh Luger, co-founder of Capital Tacos, told PYMNTS in a recent interview.
This technology ramp-up gave Capital Tacos the digital infrastructure it needed to adopt the re-imagined rewards program the company envisioned.
“We’ve always wanted a program that did more than one thing,” he explained. “Points-based rewards are great, but we really view them as the baseline of any loyalty program.”
Luger described the new program as a digital experience that offers loyalty members more opportunity to engage with the brand, as well as a more streamlined system for the brand to reward this engagement, developing a virtuous cycle for both merchants and consumers.
Challenge Is the Opportunity
Capital Tacos responded to the constraints of operating during a pandemic in two critical ways. The QSR first examined its technology infrastructure and recognized it could incorporate new solutions that would enhance member experiences and better respond to its customers’ loyalty evolving expectations.
“We’ve had our heads down for years, bulletproofing the concept to get it ready to scale,” Luger said. “We took the opportunity to build out a fully-optimized menu and best-in-class tech stack.”
This new infrastructure provided the foundation for Capital Tacos to launch a digital ecosystem that completely revamped its customers’ digital experiences with the brand. The company did not stop with updates to its consumer-facing technology, however. Capital Tacos integrated new systems with its back-end operations that support more efficient and effective management of its stores. Updating the technology infrastructure for both areas has proven singularly effective, he said.
“[This] combination allowed us to become a majority digital brand in terms of sales — a great place to be in this ‘new normal,’” Luger explained.
Rewarded for Change
Adopting an agile technology stack to ensure a loyalty program’s smooth operation is crucial for its success. Building a comprehensive rewards program that boosts loyalty and reduces friction for customers is the other key step, and Capital Tacos has done just this by recently introducing its all-new Capital Rewards program. Leveraging the new technology infrastructure has positioned the brand to take advantage of a digital-first approach.
“It allows folks to engage as rewards members however and wherever they are ordering from — in-store, online or on our app,” Luger said.
This allows Capital Tacos to offer a more robust loyalty program experience, all accessible in the brand’s app. These new features include both members-only promotions branded as Capital Exclusives and first-to-know and early access to specials. Members can also review everything they have earned in real time as well as what they are close to earning.
“It’s really an all-encompassing program,” Luger stated.
The rewards program and technology stack also work hand-in-hand to personalize member experiences in ways that were previously difficult to pull off. Top rewards members receive advanced notifications for exclusive experiences, including annual invitations to an in-store Off-Menu Omakase, in which the QSR closes branches early to serve tacos from its R&D lab.
“We’re always providing new and different offers to folks based on their loyalty level and surprising them with things they may not have expected in the process,” Luger noted.
Coupling new technology infrastructure with a refreshed rewards program has been popular with their customers.
“The convenience and ease of use — along with the nature of the program itself — have been a big part of the overall success of Capital Rewards,” Luger said. “The result has been an enhanced affinity and loyalty to the brand, as well as an always-on, ‘I need to pay attention to what might be coming next’ mentality, which we think is a super-fun expectation to provide a customer .”