Picking up points for eating doughnuts? Homer Simpson’s gonna love this. But it’s true — some of the best restaurant loyalty programs around might be right around the corner, QSRweb.com reports. The trade website for quick service restaurants — QSRs — notes that fast-food places like Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and Starbucks have been sprinkling on increasingly sophisticated rewards programs lately. That’s traditionally been a struggle for low-priced restaurants whose customers frequently pay cash for their coffee, chicken nuggets or cheese fries. What’s different now? Mainly, QSRweb.com says, the new programs track individual customers, not transaction data. “The sea change is that we are moving away from focusing on just transactions and instead thinking about the best way to build the customer relationship,” Joy Das Gupta, category manager for loyalty at Starbucks, explains in the website’s post. “What is the best way to reach customers and drive frequency with meaningful programs, offerings and incentives?” Starbucks pioneered QSRs loyalty programs back in 2008, and it’s still leading the way, industry leaders agree. But everybody else is well beyond paper punch cards now. Starbucks started with its prepaid gift cards. Now the company is using preloaded loyalty cards to track customer habits and anticipate what they’ll want next. Already, Starbucks reports that 25 percent of its transactions involve company-issued cards, according to QSRweb.com. Most QSRs push customers to websites to track or claim their rewards, which range from cash to crossover prizes from partnerships. Starbucks has arrangements with entertainment companies that allow rewards such as film screenings, while Tasti D-Lite offers free ice cream cones after 10 visits. Like the food, the learning curve is fast at QSRs, so contact us — we’ll give you the scoop.