September 03, 2020 | The XM Blog

Curbside Pickup: How to Dazzle Customers at Every Step


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Have you recently used curbside pickup at a retailer, grocery store, or restaurant?

How did it go? Did the experience exceed your expectations or were you disappointed? Was there an opportunity to share your reaction with that business?

Many businesses have expanded or introduced curbside options this year, but those with insight into the customer experience have an edge. We see that plainly with Verint clients, who are using Experience Cloud to collect feedback about this critical part of today’s customer journey.

What are they learning? I’m going to highlight some key insights in this post, a follow-up to our curbside CX strategy guide post from last month, which outlined four CX best practices.

What’s Bringing Customers to the Curb?

Customers want curbside as a pickup option and they appreciate it when it is available. Saving time is one reason, health and safety is another, as noted in a recent Andrew Reise article: “All of this change means your customer experience teams need to change as well. Consider all the impacts that happened overnight to your customer journey maps, personas, and moments of truth. All of these need a new, refreshed look through the ‘stay safe’ lens.”

And customers are genuinely appreciative of this option. I have even seen survey responses where people literally use the word “love” in their open-ended comments. How often do your customers use that word to describe their experiences with your brand? But they also want the process to work perfectly. They expect the app and your staff to be in seamless synchronization.

People are busy, tired, and stressed right now. They don’t want to spend any time or energy figuring out how to navigate your app and they have no patience if when they arrive at the store your employees can’t fill their order. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. So, to mitigate that, customers want you to simplify the process to reduce the number of mistakes that can happen.

Curbside Has Sky-High Expectations at Every Step

Customers want the curbside pickup option in your checkout funnel to be clearly understandable and easy to find. If curbside is one of multiple options (drive-thru, pickup in-store), they want it to be super simple to pick between them. They want a confirmation message in the app that their curbside order was completed or an email with EXPLICIT instructions on how things will go once they arrive. They also only care about instructions for their local store. If that location has an especially small parking lot that doesn’t facilitate curbside, it shouldn’t be listed as an option.

Some customers don’t make it all the way through the digital funnel. There are server errors or navigational confusion or other things that go wrong. When they call your contact center or reach out to an agent over chat, they expect that person to know the intricacies and to quickly help them get their order placed.

If they need to state “I have arrived” during the process, it must be easy to find. Is it in the app? Is it an email? If they checked out as a guest, make it as easy to indicate their arrival as it is for your customers with accounts.

They want to know where to go. Are there parking spots marked for curbside? Have signage in the parking lot. What if it’s busy and there are not enough spots? Have additional instructions ready for that contingency.

They want employees delivering their food to know their car, and they want to give you vehicle details inside the app. After they do it once, they want the app to remember those details so they don’t need to enter them again.

If the process breaks down, as it inevitably will for a certain percentage of customers, they want someone to pick up the phone when they call the store. They don’t want to be put on hold while they wait for an already longer-than-expected process.

If you’re using a partner to help facilitate your curbside pickup, make it clear to customers who they will be working with. They expect that partner to address all their needs. If those needs are not met, they won’t be angry at the partner, they’ll be angry with your brand, and possibly take their business somewhere else.

They do not want to wait for an unclear or indefinite amount of time when they arrive at the store. If you’re busy and wait times will be longer than normal, they want to know that. If you’re offering scheduled times to complete the transaction, they expect those times to be honored by your employees.

When inventory issues arise and what they initially ordered is no longer available, give substitution options. They don’t want your staff to choose a substitute item for them. If there are no other options, they want a super clear and easy-to-use refund policy. They expect your store staff to be able to answer questions about their refund and how money will get back onto their credit cards.

They expect staff to be doing whatever is necessary to ensure their order and all its customizations are followed explicitly. They don’t want to get home only to find their sandwich had the wrong sauce or they got the wrong brand of toilet paper in their bag. When things do not go perfectly, they want to have a clear process for notifying you and then steps to resolve the situation, whether that be a refund, store credit, or option to return to the business and get the correct item.

Keeping Curbside Personal Matters to Customers

Though patience may wear thin, customers also understand we are in a tough time right now. They have sympathy with your staff and really appreciate when things go right and they get what they need while keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

They expect that you will read their comments, understand their digital navigational issues, and analyze their ratings about the experience. To that end, we recommend adding a curbside-specific survey, hiring our analysts to help you find insights in those survey responses, using Digital Behavior Analytics or session replay to understand how customers are exploring these new digital fulfilment options, and using our brand new curbside pickup Predictive Experience model to inform where you go next to improve CX.

Curbside introduces many opportunities for CX wins, and CX failures. You’re not in it alone! Please reach out with questions or to get started on a curbside strategy.

Written by Charlie Danoff, Senior Analyst

About the Author

As a pioneer in customer experience analytics, Verint delivers superior technology and proven methodology to connect the customer experience to the bottom line. The result is better business for companies and a better experience for consumers.

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