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Mar 29, 2022
Social distancing guidelines and COVID-19 regulations didn’t just lead to the closure of restaurant dining rooms and strict in-store shopping procedures—they created a surge in curbside pickup for all types of businesses. And while the drive to curbside was initially driven by health concerns, brands have realized the ongoing customer demand for a curbside pickup experience is giving it a place in post-pandemic strategies, too.
Consumers across all industries report they will be using this method even more frequently in the future:
While some brands had been offering this service to customers long before COVID-19, many have had to learn on the way as they launched curbside pickup, largely surprised by the kind of traffic they saw through this new delivery method. To help ensure your customer experience management (XM) strategy is optimized for the new “curbside era,” here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
A positive curbside customer experience begins with a clear and consistent communication plan. Customers want notifications every step of the way. It’s also important to let customers choose how they want to receive notifications and updates on their order (i.e., in-app, email, text).
Provide signage and dedicated parking spots for customers taking advantage of the curbside pickup experience. This is especially important for stores that are not a stand-alone brick-and-mortar (e.g., in a mall, close to other busy retailers). Customers need to know exactly where to drive up and park to get their order.
Signage is also very critical for first-time buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS) users. One SMG retail client showed new BOPIS customers were 9-ppts less satisfied with Ease of Finding Pick-up Location than repeat BOPIS users.
People want to get in and out of stores as quickly as possible. If their BOPIS experience isn’t frictionless, you can expect their satisfaction to decrease. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Those who have never been through the BOPIS process before need explicit instructions so they aren’t left wandering and frustrated.
Safety drove initial demand for the expansion of curbside pickup. Now, among other things, demand is being driven by convenience, so the speed of the process is paramount. To meet that need and deliver a great curbside pickup experience, BOPIS services should be the primary focus of those assigned to it.
The most successful programs are those that have both personnel resources and well-documented procedures dedicated to making sure the order pickup process remains fast and convenient. Logistical space in the store and store associates who focus on curbside pickup orders are also key components of getting customers on their way as quickly as possible.
With a convenient experience being the goal, it’s vital to deliver a completely accurate order. Inaccurate orders mean more back-and-forth (and more hands touching products), so make sure team members double-check the order and verify the right vehicle before heading curbside.
In addition, a timely curbside experience is key to customer satisfaction. Have a team member dedicated to curbside orders and ready to assist these customers. Overall Satisfaction steadily declines the longer curbside customers have to wait.
If your brand has yet to implement a curbside or BOPIS option, now is the time. Leverage the right technologies and dedicate the time to train employees on these operational best practices—because studies show consumer preference for curbside options will last far longer than the pandemic.
Consider integrating a curbside pickup option with your existing mobile app to provide a more frictionless experience. Brands with an existing mobile app have made a smoother transition to offering a curbside pickup experience and have had fewer issues with clarity and communication.
For example, one SMG restaurant client leveraged their mobile app for curbside pickup and it was a big success with customers. Users could track their order status with a progress bar in the app. The brand also added designated parking spaces for curbside. Once the customer arrived, they simply indicated they were there and entered their parking space number. Staff was notified and able to promptly deliver the order.
The brand’s XM data is proving customers appreciate the streamlined approach: usage has increased by more than 5x, and Overall Satisfaction with curbside has risen 3%.
Our data also shows some brands are seeing an increase in loyalty metrics from customers who are highly satisfied with their curbside experience. One retail client saw a 14% increase—compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers—in Likelihood to Use Again when customers were Highly Satisfied with BOPIS/Curbside.
On top of that, we’re seeing open-ended comments from customers hoping the curbside pickup experience option is here to stay. While it’ll be interesting to see how trends continue to play out, signs indicate consumer behaviors and preferences have permanently changed in significant ways.
The evolution of customer service and expectations is always in flux, which is why listening to and acting on customer and employee experience feedback is more crucial than ever. For more strategies to deliver more convenience to customers, check out 3 Ways to Provide a Convenient + Contactless Customer Experience.
As we navigate the changing consumer landscape together, we’ll continue to share employee and customer trends and report on how those trends are affecting your brand. Contact us to see how our software with a service (SwaS) model can help your organization at every level with actionable insights, improved customer satisfaction, and revenue growth.
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