Case Study: Tasti D-Lite


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Case Study: Tasti D-Lite

  1. 1. Mercury® and pcAmerica help Tasti D-lite unlock the social media Case study treasure chest.Multi-location loyalty paired with social mediaresults in affordable, targeted viral marketing.Introduction:Tasti D-lite is a frozen dessert franchisor now headquartered in Tennessee with 60locations throughout the U.S. and abroad. pcAmerica provides Tasti D-lite’s enterprise-wide point-of-sale (POS) solution, Restaurant Pro Express. Mercury Payment Systems®is integrated to Restaurant Pro Express to handle Tasti D-lite’s credit, debit and gift card payment processing andmulti-site loyalty program.Challenge:Social media and loyalty are two buzz words in many business-to-consumer operators’ minds.“How often do you actually see a corporate entity communicating daily to their customers about everyday things?”asked David Gosman, CEO, pcAmerica. “Some businesses open their doors and provide good customer servicewhile others go beyond. Tasti D-lite is always looking to do more -- tobe creative, hands-on, and communicate regularly with customers.” “...we wanted to rewardBJ Emerson, Tasti D-lite’s Director of Information and SocialTechnologies, wanted to build a better loyalty program for all their our customers withstore locations. The punch card loyalty system could not associate aparticular sale with an individual customer, track redemption rates, or loyalty points for sharingreport behavior across locations. As a result, franchisees were hesitant their experience relatedto honor loyalty transactions across locations, which forced customersto manage numerous “TreatCards.” to the brand.”Emerson also observed that customers were using social media tools and mobile applications, such as Twitter,Facebook, and Foursquare, to talk to friends about their Tasti D-lite experience. He and franchise owners beganengaging social media tactics such as creating Tasti D-lite venues, and advertising “nearby specials” on Foursquare.“Since we already saw a lot of activity on social networks, we wanted to reward our customers with loyalty points forsharing their experience related to the brand.” said Emerson.Solution:To meet Tasti D-lite’s social media and loyalty goals, the first step was to move allTasti D-lite locations onto the same point-of-sale (POS) system. Once 100 percentof the locations were installed, the next step was better customer engagement.
  2. 2. So, pcAmerica integrated with Mercury Payment Systems to provide Tasti D-lite with a one-stop paymentprocessing and multi-site gift and loyalty solution, TastiRewards. The online portion of the TastiRewards loyaltyprogram,, allows customers to register their dual-function gift and loyalty TreatCard to check pointsbalance.While the loyalty registration portal was being built, pcAmerica cameup with an idea to marry Tasti D-lite’s social netoworking and loyalty efforts. Theyused Twitter’s Application Programming Interface (API) to connect Tasti D-lite’ssocial network to their loyalty program. That way, Tasti D-lite was able to givecustomers points towards Tasti D-lite products for promoting the brand online.With the new technology in place, TreatCard holders at participating locations notonly earn points for purchases, but also for registering their TreatCard online at and connecting theiraccount to Twitter, Facebook and/or Foursquare. By automatically sharing their Tasti D-lite experience with friendsand followers, they earn extra rewards toward free Tasti D-lite products.Every dollar spent equals a point; 50 points garners a free frozen dessert. But, customers using the social mediatools get an extra point for every network they’re signed up for. Once pre-authorized, when registered users present their TreatCard for purchases or redemptions, a randomly selected post appears on their account for their friends and followers to see. An example would be: “I just earned 7 TastiRewards points at Tasti D-Lite Nashville, TN” Links to coupons for the given location within the message can be included periodically so that friends and followers can benefit, too. Security is a feature that was carefully integrated into the solution.“When customers register their loyalty cards and their credentials into, pcAmerica doesn’t actuallystore the information – they get a token,” said Gosman. “It’s good for security and peace of mind. There are rulesand we’re following them very carefully.”Results:Enterprise-wide program The customer loyalty functions within the POS software are extended through the integration with Mercury Payment Systems so that points can be earned seamlessly across participating locations, even if they have different franchise owners. Nearly all U.S. Tasti D-lite locations now use the same pcAmerica POS-integrated credit, gift and loyalty program from Mercury Payment Systems. “Because Tasti D-lite is a brand, customers expect a national loyalty program that allows them to earn points at all locations,” said Emerson.First in class technology In January 2010, ten locations kicked off Tasti D-lite’s integrated social network-loyalty program. Nearly all locations are expected to be participating in the program by spring of 2010. 2
  3. 3. “We’re excited to be the first to offer this kind of social media-loyalty program,” said Emerson. “Not many processors have multi-site loyalty available like Mercury offers - and it works really well,” said Gosman. “Multi-site loyalty seems like such a basic concept but I don’t know many companies, including national chains, that are actually doing it.”Robust Reporting The fully integrated loyalty functions within each POS system can now report points earned and redeemed by location and customer, as well as birthday redemptions, on a global basis. Equipped with this information, individual franchise owners are now willing to adopt a nationwide program. As a result, customer participation in the new TastiRewards program is expected to draw more new customers and encourage existing customer purchase activity with a single TreatCard.Affordable viral marketing Gosman says social media users have an average of 91 “We helped customers friends in their network. About 50 percent of their network are earn more points and geographically nearby and have the same interests. they helped us roll out “The magic is that Tasti D-lite is able to target-market at a low cost through a reputable source,” said Gosman, “because our loyalty program.” TastiD-lite is getting exposure to a network of friends that are mostly in the same location with the same interests.” Gosman suggests that the social media-loyalty program has created a “currency” for posts. In Tasti D-lite terms, a Twitter “tweet” is 1/50th of a frozen dessert. Gosman speculates that no one has a tried and true formula for social media success— yet! He asserts that Tasti D-lite’s ability to connect customers’ in-store activity to their social network activity is “a great example of the first company to work towards unlocking the social media code.”Mutually beneficial “We helped customers earn more points and they helped us roll out our loyalty program,” said Emerson.Company branding “We’re becoming known as a social-friendly brand,” said Emerson. “The abilty for customers to earn more points with Tasti D-lite will distinguish us in a competitve marketplace.”Positive engagement Early adoption rates show that 25 percent of those customers registered online are opting to connect their accounts to one or more social networks. 3
  4. 4. “The number of people who are registering their loyalty cards and connecting to the social media sites is really encouraging,” said Emerson. “We can see the tweets go out and it’s pretty cool. Plus, the feedback from the employees and franchisee owners is very positive.” “Everything with social media is new, so it’s difficult to predict or project the outcome. However, the participation we’re seeing is very encouraging,” added Emerson. “So far, it’s only been a minor add-on, so that’s a great return,” concluded Emerson. “When the weather warms up, there’s going to be a lot of buzz when people visit Tasti-d-lite this summer. It’s going to be crazy.”Easy integration “I’ve managed many IT projects in the past, and the Mercury development team did a great job helping pcAmerica enable features for our Tasti D-lite customers and ensure a smooth integration,” said Gosman.The Future Together, pcAmerica and Tasti D-lite continue to improve the loyalty program by adding new features. “We’re going to grow it from here. is going to be the community for everyone,” said Emerson. With new features being developed every day, some recent additions include: 1) Customers can now pre-authorize more than ten new messages that randomly cycle through and post when a purchase is made by a social media-loyalty subscriber. 2) One of the message options includes a coupon, thus bringing a monetary value to social media streams. 3) Facebook was integrated to the social media-loyalty program. “Tasti D-lite is pioneering this realm,” said Gosman. “They’re known for getting a lot of customers to participate and drive up sales at their individual stores.” will serve as the basis for the Tasti D-Lite branded online community and will be expanded to allow customers to compete for points, earn additional rewards, provide product reviews and connect with other Tasti D-Lite fans. “Over time, specific product purchases and customer behavior across locations will provide a wealth of information which will be used to make more efficient menu item and flavor development decisions,” said BJ Emerson. “This will lead to targeted product recommendations and opportunities to engage with customers on through flavor and product reviews as well as competitions related to loyalty activity.” 4