THE CLARUS Blog

How CKE Restaurants Cultivates an Engaging and Rewarding Digital Experience for Its Customers – featuring Jason Seeley

Officials at CKE Restaurants, parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., wanted to show their loyal customers how much they appreciate them and prioritize the brands’ digital transformation in restaurants and online. 

As a result, in late March CKE Restaurant launched My Rewards, a new loyalty program available through its recently launched brand apps putting the most popular menu items just a few taps away. The program is available nationally at participating Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants. 

Having a U.S. and international presence, Carl’s Jr. Restaurants and Hardee’s Restaurants have more than 3,800 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states and 43 foreign countries and U.S. territories. 

We caught up with Jason Seeley, Senior Director of Digital Strategy at CKE Restaurants, to learn more about the company’s new loyalty program and how it connects to a larger digital engagement strategy. 

 

Jim Tierney: Since many businesses, offices, and all schools have reopened in the past year, can you talk about CKE Restaurants’ high-level strategy when it comes to customer loyalty and how that was impacted by customer behavioral changes since the pandemic started in March 2020?  

Jason Seeley, Senior Director of Digital Strategy at CKE Restaurants

Jason Seeley: We’ve been committed to delivering a quality experience for our guests since the start, and our loyalty program is an extension of these efforts. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve noticed differences in the purchasing patterns of our guests.

For example, we’ve seen a consumer need for convenience and desire to deliver our food in a contactless capacity. The pandemic revealed our character, speed, and agility which we continue to improve on. Because of this, we were able to meet our guests where they are and ensure our new loyalty program is all encompassing of deals, convenience, and enticing surprises. 

 

Jim: CKE launched a new loyalty program in late March after it tested well during pilot programs. Can you talk about the thought process behind that, how it has impacted member engagement, and how you hope it will influence members’ behavior in the future?  

Jason: Our digital transformation began about two years ago, and a loyalty program has always been a major milestone within that plan. We’ve spent the past 12 or so months focusing on our foundational infrastructure, such as next gen connectivity and point-of-sale standardization.  

Now that our My Rewards program is here, we hope to engage with our loyal guests in new ways as well as tap new audiences to encourage them to try our innovative menu items, participate in deals, and take advantage of our in-app features.  

 

Jim: When the new loyalty program launched, company officials talked about the importance of having a digital loyalty program for your loyal customers. Can you talk more about the importance of digital experiences for your brand and your customers?  

Jason: Cultivating an engaging and rewarding digital experience for our brands and guests is a top priority and is something we’re constantly working on. We pride ourselves in having a positive in-store experience, and we really see our My Rewards program as an addition to this. The digital experience is vital for our fans as we continue to provide innovative programming.  

 

Jim: What are your short- and long-term goals connected to your new loyalty program? 

Jason: Regarding short-term goals, we’re focusing on sustaining the momentum of My Rewards and encouraging our guests to join the app and loyalty program. As far as long-term goals, we’re accelerating our revenue-driving initiatives like third-party delivery and menu optimization to keep the momentum going in both the digital and in-store landscapes. 

 

Jim: Do you plan to leverage promotions in your loyalty program at various times of year to increase membership and elevate brand advocacy? 

Jason: Yes, we have a few different promotions available to help entice consumers to join our My Rewards program. Users get a free Burger or Hand-Breaded Chicken Sandwich just by signing up, and our members will have access to exclusive offers, such as 10% off their digital offer, BOGOs, and other surprises throughout the year.  

 

Jim: Can you talk about how your company trains staff to talk about the new loyalty program to guests? 

Jason: We’ve gone through intensive training internally to ensure our team is equipped to discuss the loyalty program with our guests. We’ve also added positions across the brands to support digital growth because it has truly been a business-wide priority and effort. 

 

Jim: How do you think the pandemic has changed guest behavior now and forever? 

Jason: The pandemic played a huge role in guest behavior shifts. For us, this crisis revealed our character, and we demonstrated our speed and agility which we continue to show two years later. We see this shift being the norm in the future and will continue to accelerate revenue driving initiatives like third-party delivery, the loyalty app, My Rewards, and menu optimization.  

 

CKE Restaurants Responds to Customers’ Behavioral Shifts 

As Jason explained, CKE Restaurants responded to its customers since the pandemic began more than two years ago and met them where they were. 

With the launch of the company’s new loyalty program, My Rewards, officials at CKE Restaurants rolled out a program that had been successful in test markets. It was a priority in its comprehensive digital engagement strategy that began two years ago. 

My Rewards aims to create the best possible digital experience and access new and easier ways to engage with CKE customers. 

CKE officials are committed to intensive training internally to ensure their team is well versed in all aspects of the new loyalty program. This makes discussing it with customers that much easier and engaging. 

Also, CKE plans to leverage promotions throughout the year to entice consumers to join the My Rewards program.  

If enhancing your loyalty program is on your list of priorities, reach out to chat with our customer engagement and loyalty experts any time. 

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