SYS-CON UK Authors: Salvatore Genovese, Jeremy Geelan, Jamie Matusow

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Customer Insight Drives Experience at Ask Italian

BIRMINGHAM, England, November 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Restaurant chain, ASK Italian, has announced that insights based on customer feedback will help shape the evolution of the brand as the business continues on its path of transformation.

Forming a key part of the brand's journey towards bringing Italy to life throughout all aspects of its business, the 'My ASK Italian' programme has been developed in partnership with customer experience management (CEM) experts Empathica.

"We've been making significant changes to ASK Italian, introducing a brand new menu using quality, fresh ingredients which reflect our passion for authentic Italian food. We have a new Milanese-inspired restaurant design, and a new warm service proposition which showcases the characters of the individuals in our teams," says Steve Holmes, managing director of ASK Italian. "As part of these changes, we've launched the 'My ASK Italian' programme which enables us to listen more closely to our customers, to understand better how they feel about our brand and, most importantly, to tailor our offer going forward to enhance their experience and build customer satisfaction and loyalty."

Replacing a long-standing mystery shopping programme, the new CEM initiative has been designed to assess the customer experience in each of ASK Italian's 126 restaurants across the UK, and within only two months of the launch has provided the business with feedback from nearly 2,000 customers. Insights from the data are fed back to restaurant managers, enabling them to implement operational changes with restaurant teams that have an immediate impact on customer satisfaction levels.

"The audit style approach provided by our previous measurement tool simply didn't fit with our vision as we work to better understand our customers' needs and deliver a natural and genuinely friendly experience," says Holmes. "Casual dining is an ever-changing, highly competitive marketplace and it's essential for us to have our finger on the pulse of what our customers think and feel so we can maintain our edge and key points of difference."

"Our new CEM programme has already helped us to move beyond static measures, giving us valuable insight into how real customers engage with and perceive our business on a daily basis. Through the data we've received since launching 'My ASK Italian', we've already had lots of great feedback from our customers on what matters most to them and this will help us evolve our brand proposition going forward."

My ASK Italian enables diners to provide honest feedback via a short online survey, which can also be accessed via mobile devices such as smartphones. Customers are invited to complete the survey at the bottom of their bill with the opportunity to be entered into a free monthly prize draw to win £250 of ASK Italian vouchers.

Based on customer responses, the Empathica system generates an alert to recognise exceptional front of house service and another to recognise the chefs. In the first two months, ASK Italian received almost 1,000 and over 600 of those alerts, respectively.

Steve Holmes continues: "The new programme is at the heart of a cultural change that has reinvigorated our entire workforce as it allows customers to highlight where they have received exceptional service and feed back to individual members of our team. The insights also feed into our employee reward scheme, with all our staff incentivised to deliver great customer experiences at all times, not just when 'spot-checked'."

As part of the new CEM initiative, to ensure that happy customers are given the opportunity to share their great experiences, ASK Italian has also implemented GoRecommendTM, a social media advocacy solution that amplifies the reach of real customer recommendations of their restaurant experience using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Gary Topiol, EMEA managing director for Empathica, commented: "We're delighted to be part of ASK Italian's new strategy to get closer to their customers. 'My ASK Italian' successfully demonstrates how quickly a well executed CEM programme can deliver actionable customer insights and engage teams to help drive real change across the business."

Notes for editors

About ASK Italian

ASK Italian is one of the UK's leading casual dining restaurants, inspired by a passion for Italian food and culture.

Its menu, shaped by the knowledge of expert friends, including chef Theo Randall, offers great, simple Italian food made with the finest, fresh, quality ingredients.

Italian classics and seasonal specials are served by friendly teams in warm surroundings inspired by modern Milanese design.

ASK Italian has over 115 restaurants across the UK.


About Empathica

Empathica is the leading provider of social Customer Experience Management (CEM) programmes to the world's most respected multi-unit brands in the retail, hospitality, banking and petro sectors. Its rich analysis of survey data using state-of-the-art surveying and dashboard reporting software allows for performance-improvement solutions, evidence-based marketing insights, and customer experience management consulting.

Annually, Empathica's 30 million customer surveys in 25 languages reach more than 70,000 locations in over 50 countries. A privately-held organisation, Empathica is headquartered in Toronto, Canada,  has a European office in Birmingham, England and executive consultant offices throughout the United States. For more information about deriving actionable insights that enhance a brand's operational excellence, visit Empathica at http://www.empathica.com

Follow us on Twitter -  @EmpathicaUK

More information
Heather Power / Simon Partington
heather@htpr.com/ simon@htpr.com

Gary Topiol

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