Third-party delivery: What’s at stake for your brand?

Michele Vance | Apr 10, 2018 Michele Vance 04/10/18

Third-party delivery is quickly becoming one of the biggest market disruptors in the restaurant industry. To help brands understand what’s on the line, we used SurveyMini®—SMG’s consumer mobile app and the fastest, most accurate source of behavioral data linked to customer feedback in real time—to collect responses from more than 42,000 users.

We discovered 35% of customers who use these services experience a problem, and nearly half of them blame the restaurant for that problem. So if you don’t have an air-tight third-party strategy in place, you risk disappointing customers and damaging your brand.

At the upcoming Restaurant Leadership Conference (RLC), I’ll be leading an Innovation Forum to discuss how your company can establish a strong third-party delivery strategy and be braced for these challenges. Here are a few of the risks and opportunities your brand can face with third-party delivery, and what you can do to overcome them:

Create a line of defense, even when you’re not to blame

It’s the end of a long work day and your customer is hungry. He’s already deep into his favorite show on Netflix but he’s craving one of your delicious burgers. So he decides to have it delivered, using his favorite delivery app. The wait time is a bit long, but he decides not moving from the couch makes it worthwhile. When his order finally arrives, the burger is all wrong!

While the restaurant correctly prepared his customized request, that burger ended up in the hands of someone else. But your customer doesn’t know this. Instead, he thinks you messed up.  And our research shows he’s going to skip blaming the middleman and instead put the fault on your restaurant.

So even though you can’t avoid every misstep, you can ensure feedback systems are in place and equip your restaurants and contact centers to handle issues as they arise. Evaluate your strategy and explore possible partnerships with third-party vendors. The investment could pay off by eliminating problematic and impactful scenarios such as inaccurate delivery orders.


Negative social media points back to you, not the delivery service

Third-party delivery services rarely have a presence in the polarized world of online ratings and reviews—which means customers will turn to your social pages when all else fails. So that frustrated customer with the wrong burger is now leaving you a bad online review. In fact, our data shows restaurant reviews mentioning third-party delivery providers average just 1.4 stars—despite average ratings of more than 4 stars for those same brands when traditional order methods are utilized.


And those online reviews can make or break a brand’s reputation. BrightLocal’s annual consumer review survey showed 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017. In addition, they read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business. Accuracy, Service, and Taste are the most frequently cited categories in reviews mentioning a third-party delivery vendor, so make sure these 3 areas are top priority for you and your third-party partner.

Set your brand up to win where you can

What’s the best way to see the third-party delivery experience through the eyes of your customer? Try it out yourself.

Evaluate the process from start to finish. Is your restaurant’s menu up-to-date? Can you clearly and seamlessly document order customizations? Did you receive your order accurately and on time? Are you able to leave feedback or contact someone if an issue occurs?

Customers may not always know who’s at fault—but they’re more forgiving when it’s clear you’re doing everything possible on your end to deliver a great experience. Don’t leave your reputation to chance. Experience third-party delivery so you can understand what it’s like for your customers—and your brand.

Want more information on third-party delivery?

To learn more about third-party delivery and how to implement a successful strategy for your brand, download our full report here.

Michele Vance | Chief Sales Officer
Customer Experience Update