TGI Fridays looks to AI for app retention

TGI Fridays is using artificial intelligence to do everything from power chatbots to personalize service at locations. The chain is particularly focused on how AI can keep app (1).png

From May to November 2017, TGI Fridays used “predictive churn” tech to predict when a user would leave the app after signing in, then target users that were likely to leave soon with offers based on their past orders. TGI Fridays sent push notifications encouraging these users to make another purchase. When a user tapped on a push notification, they would be brought into the TGI Fridays app, where they could edit their order and pay with one tap.

“We looked at what and when they ordered and made it super easy for them to re-order at a similar time of day and week,” said James Washington, product manager of digital platforms at TGI Fridays.

It worked. TGI Fridays saw a 65 percent conversion rate when it came to users reordering from the push notification.

“Often brands have massive leaky buckets where they acquire people who download the app, but then never use it,” said Mike Herrick, svp of product and engineering at Urban Airship, which works with TGI Fridays on app retention. “On average, users that opt in to receive notifications have 190 percent greater retention rates than those that don’t opt in.”

TGI Fridays plans on taking the data it gleans from AI and applying it to customer service at its 500-plus restaurants in the U.S. With its app, TGI Fridays can detect when a customer arrives at any of the brand’s 500 U.S. locations. The brand hopes AI can provide more detail that can make the dining experience more personalized, like knowing a guest’s favorite drink and what the occasion is for their visit. That way, a bartender or waiter can be ready to wait on that person, keeping personal preferences in mind.

“Ideally, you go into your local bar, and the bartender knows you,” said Washington. “We want to be able to serve you at the same level.”

TGI Fridays is also using AI to generate the best responses for its Twitter and Facebook chatbots as well as its Amazon Alexa voice skill. Right now, said Washington, users can only ask specific questions like “Alexa, where is the nearest TGI Fridays?”

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