With accuracy continuing to plague the delivery experience, a small operational change made a big impact for Church's Chicken

Jacqui Mueller | Jul 7, 2021 Jacqui Mueller 07/07/21

Convenience was already top of mind for most consumers. But a global pandemic has only heightened the focus on convenient choices—and restaurants are meeting that demand with expanded in-house delivery options and delivery partnerships.

Yet third-party delivery on its own remains prevalent, and restaurants continue to question how third-party delivery services complicate their ability to meet customer expectations while protecting their business.

In SMG’s latest food delivery research, we asked 20,000 consumers about their delivery experiences—collecting 500,000+ data points encompassing their feedback and behaviors. We learned that though problem occurrence is on the decline (down 16%-pts from our 2019 study), 1 in 4 customers are still experiencing an issue when using third-party delivery.

Digging deeper into the data, we found order accuracy is the top complaint from customers—with “missing items” being cited 9%-pts more with third-party delivery vs. ordering directly from the restaurant.

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This was a hot topic for Church’s Chicken, so the brand was eager to see how the delivery experience was faring with customers after launching partnerships with third-party delivery vendors. Let’s look at how the brand leveraged experience management data to drive improvements to the delivery experience.  

Pinpoint areas of opportunity to improve the delivery experience

Church’s Chicken’s location-based feedback confirmed Accuracy of Order was the top driver of the delivery experience with the largest room for improvement. This aligned with SMG’s third-party delivery research, which also showed customers are more likely to blame the brand (vs. the delivery provider) for problems with order accuracy.

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Armed with this information, Church’s was ready to make specific changes to their delivery process to combat this industry-wide issue and drive satisfaction with the delivery experience.

Create meaningful change to drive delivery improvements

Church’s Chicken wasted no time in taking action on improving order accuracy. The brand came up with a simple but significant two-step plan:

1. Create a “Perfect Delivery Sticker” to be used on all delivery orders, which included a checklist of commonly missed items, required sign-off by a team member, + linked to Church’s CX survey

2. Add a question to their customer experience survey confirming the sticker was included + items were checked off

The solution provided locations with a tangible action plan and created a sense of accountability. Though much of the third-party delivery experience is out of the restaurant’s control, the delivery sticker was a way for front-line teams to have a hand in driving order accuracy improvements.

Increase delivery satisfaction + improve business outcomes

The Perfect Delivery Sticker made an immediate impact for Church’s Chicken. After implementation, the brand saw a 5%-pt increase in Overall Satisfaction and a 5%-pt increase in Order Accuracy. What’s more, they drove a 4% decrease in inaccurate orders—despite an increase in order count—which had significant financial impact by decreasing the number of refunded orders.

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Is your third-party delivery strategy air-tight?

The cost of a bad delivery experience could lead to a decrease in customers reordering from your restaurant—impacting long-term loyalty. And even though customers are getting smarter about who to blame for a bad experience and holding third-party delivery providers more accountable, the restaurant always suffers. In fact, when a consumer orders third-party delivery and blames the provider for an issue, the likelihood to reorder from the same restaurant is 10%-pts lower.

To encourage repeat business and solidify customer loyalty, it’s imperative restaurants stay on top of these ever-evolving delivery trends and accept third-party delivery isn’t going anywhere. In SMG’s latest installment in the longest-running study of food delivery research, we analyzed consumer behavior and feedback to reveal how restaurants can improve the delivery experience and drive business outcomes. For the 7 trends you should know about in the new era of food delivery, download: The state of the delivery experience.


Jacqui Mueller | SVP, Client Insights

Customer Experience Update