Think Outside the Industry: Shake Shack and Warby Parker Use Tech to Connect

Generally, technology has a reputation for not creating connections. We think of friends sitting at a table, all looking at their phones, people texting instead of talking or robots helping customers instead of employees.

But this idea of technology creating disconnect isn’t always true. In fact, Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer and Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal recently shared ways they’re using technology to form stronger connections with their customers. You can read the full interview on Inc. and check out our favorite tips below:

“1. Use social media to play both defense and offense.

It’s a given that you should respond directly to customers who complain about your brand on social media. But that responsiveness doesn’t always have to come when your company is on the defensive.

Some of Meyer’s most hardcore fans have taken to visiting all of his various New York City restaurants — Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke — in one several-day trip. A couple once flew in and, having heard about the Shake Shack at JFK airport, planned on visiting the restaurant on their way out. When they returned to the airport for their flight home, they realized the Shake Shack was in a different terminal and tweeted their sadness. Shake Shack spotted the tweet, took the couple’s orders, and made a special delivery to them from across the airport.

2. Focus on the important interactions.

In its brick and mortar stores, Blumenthal says, Warby Parker uses technology to ‘eliminate low-value interactions and amplify high-value ones.’ Customers type their delivery addresses into tablets on their own, but employees are active in helping the customer find the right pair of glasses. The company even films such interactions to make sure workers don’t spend too much of a conversation looking down at a tablet or computer. If they do, it’s the perfect opportunity for some training.

3. Get to know your individual customers.

Meyer’s restaurants have been customizing customer experiences since long before technology came around. Before, it meant remembering a face or name, then passing that customer’s preferences along to the server — but that left plenty of holes. Check-in platforms like OpenTable and Resy tip off Meyer’s restaurants ahead of time as to who’s coming in that night. So a server might mention that he knows a customer doesn’t like Parmesan cheese. Or, if a customer on an upcoming reservation usually drinks a certain type of wine that’s currently out of stock, the restaurant might send someone out to get more.”

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