Apps Your Customers are Using

Yelp isn’t the only place to check when you’re wondering what customers are saying about your restaurant after they leave (and increasingly before they even finish eating!).  New services are popping up every day to help customers decide where to eat, and how to share it with their friends.  Here’s an overview of what you should be checking into if you want to keep up with your brand’s unofficial digital image.

The Source

Get Ready, Foodies – Apple Is Adding A New Food & Drink Category To The App Store — Alex Heath, The Cult of Mac
The All-Important Apple App Store, the store that started it all, is bringing new emphasis to food-related apps, and has, in part, inspired this post. With more information available on the go, customers will be making decisions about where to eat, what to order, and what to expect based increasingly on an establishment’s social presence. Certainly this doesn’t affect every eatery, but it never hurts to be aware of what’s out there.

The Tools

The Foodspotter App — Foodspotter is a beautifully-designed, image-based mobile phone application.  It’s meant to be used at a restaurant, shockingly enough, while dining.  So, if you see customers pointing their phones at their plates between bites, they may well be using this service to share your creations with the world.  These images are paired with short reviews, so just looking good is not good enough for this app (:P).  Other users can compare photos and reviews of the same dish, and the overall impression of each dish is calculated in terms of each “Sighting”.  So essentially, this is  Foursquare for cheeseburgers.

The GrubHub App — GrubHub has been making a huge splash in cities all over America, as it expands from humble beginnings as a tool for two hungry guys living in Chicago. Here’s the scoop: users tell the app where they are, and the app tells them what restaurants deliver to them. There doesn’t seem to be any ‘sign up’ responsibility on the part of managers to get listed, but it wouldn’t hurt to make sure it’s as accurate as possible for your establishment, right?

Complain About a Business Directly By Texting the Manager — Jesse Kunze, Gadgetica
This entry may have been more at home in our Guide(s) to Social Media for Restaurants, but it’s going here because this collection is all about how technology is shaping the way restaurants build relationships with their customers over technology. This app is subscription-based, paid for by the establishment, and allows customers to directly communicate with the manager. Proponents say it is a great tool for minimizing (and even capitalizing on) the fall-out of an unfortunate dining experience, because it allows them to address complaints immediately.

The “We’re Not Groupon”

GrubWithUs — We’re not here to pass judgments on daily-deal sites, but this service is quick to point out how different the two services are. With GrubWithUs, a diner looking to meet up with other food lovers sets up a meal with a participating restaurant. Other diners join this meal through the website, and if enough people join, the first person pays in advance for the meal and a reservation is made. The goal of this site is to connect people who want to share a delicious meal with new people, a stark contrast with the target customer base of Groupon and other daily deal companies. Often these diners are from out of town, or otherwise unfamiliar with the area, so this may be their only chance to discover what you have to offer!

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