Throughout the pandemic, brands across industries that have prioritized the health + safety of their customers and employees have seen higher satisfaction and an increase in loyalty. This is in large part due to their dedication to providing contactless experiences.
Though health + safety concerns have decreased slightly since the height of the pandemic—our most recent study revealed less than half of consumers are concerned about catching COVID in public—consumers are still seeking out contactless and convenient options.
In this blog, we’ll look at the top 3 contactless imperatives brands should prioritize to meet customers’ evolving expectations.
Though convenience was a top motivator for customers long before the pandemic, it has now become the driving force. Consumers are placing increasing importance on convenient options—and delivery represents the pinnacle of convenience.
Restaurants are meeting that demand with expanded in-house delivery options and delivery partnerships like DoorDash Drive. Yet third-party delivery on its own remains prevalent, and restaurants continue to evaluate how third-party delivery services affect their ability to meet customer expectations while protecting their business.
For instance, brands often question whether delivery cannibalizes their business. But our research shows for the restaurant industry as a whole, third-party delivery cannibalization is a myth.
Instead, third-party delivery allows loyal customers to order more frequently from their favorite brands—with 58% of consumers stating third-party delivery allows them to order from restaurants more often than they otherwise would. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers order 4 or more times per month from both the restaurant directly and third-party services.
Many brands find success in partnering with a third-party delivery service—allowing them to scale quickly without establishing an in-house operation or increasing staff. Church’s Chicken recently drove customer satisfaction with their new delivery offering by coming up with a simple but significant solution to improving order accuracy.
The brand implemented a “Perfect Delivery Sticker,” which included a checklist of commonly missed items and required sign-off by a team member. It also contained a direct link to Church’s CX survey, which included a question confirming the sticker was included and items were checked off.
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.
Though there are advantages to partnering with third-party delivery providers, implementing an in-house delivery option also has its benefits. While third-party partnerships allow you to scale quickly, customers who order their food directly from the restaurant vs. going through a third party are decidedly more satisfied overall and more likely to order from that restaurant again.
Another benefit to in-house delivery is lower problem occurrence. Though third-party problem occurrence is on the decline (down 16%-pts from our 2019 study), it remains shockingly high. In the U.S., 1 in 4 consumers experience a problem when using third-party delivery.
But problem occurrence rates improve when consumers order directly from the restaurant. Specifically, problem occurrence is 1.3x more likely when an order is placed with a third-party service.
Deciding what’s best for your brand takes a thorough analysis. There’s room for restaurant brands and third-party delivery providers to prosper—but it means understanding the delivery experience from start to finish across all available channels, and not being afraid to establish collaborative partnerships with providers if an in-house option isn’t right for your brand.
Online shopping saw a big bump last year and it’s here to stay, but many times the process doesn’t work to fulfill immediate needs. Click and collect or buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) options give brands a convenient, contactless channel to help customers get what they need—in a safe way, right away—and not have to take their business to a competitor.
Additionally, click and collect and BOPIS options help brands save in fulfillment + shipping costs, drive store traffic, and, when executed correctly, improve customer loyalty. But the key is in the execution. Follow best practices, such as establishing dedicated parking and a specific, clearly marked location in your store for click and collect or BOPIS customers. It’s also best to designate dedicated staff so you can serve those customers quickly.
This is just what DICK’S Sporting Goods did to ensure customers were fully supported across all touchpoints. Through an analysis of their customer experience data, the brand concluded declines in Availability of Assistance had the strongest correlation to increases in ship from store (SFS) and BOPIS transactions. The team also identified the volume tipping points for when Availability of Assistance began to decline.
Following additional field conversations and employee experience feedback results, the DICK’S leadership team concluded in-store customers perceived employees were unavailable to help due to filling SFS + BOPIS orders.
To improve the customer experience, the brand launched a new scheduling performance metric to ensure labor was aligned with customer demand. They also provided stores with stationary printers, allowing employees to process SFS and BOPIS orders from multiple workstations within the store.
Their actions paid off with a double-digit increase in BOPIS sales and orders, a 13%-pt increase in Availability of Assistance, and a 7%-pt increase in Overall Satisfaction for BOPIS customers.
One contactless trend that has seen a big uptick following the pandemic is the usage of QR codes. Our research shows 3 in 5 consumers report use of a QR code and were 1.4x more likely to have used a QR code in the past 90 days vs. before the pandemic. And when it comes to demographics, 55% or more customers of all ages have used a QR code, but unsurprisingly, younger consumers have the highest adoption rates.
Consumers also have a positive outlook on the experience with 85% of those who recently used a QR code reporting the process was easy or very easy. What’s more, almost half of consumers associate them with being environmentally friendly.
While most consumers have used QR codes, usage remains narrow: 78% of respondents have used a QR code to view a menu. But brands of all industries have an opportunity to take advantage of the reemergence of QR codes and expand their purpose.
For example, retail brands like Ralph Lauren and Puma recently started using QR codes to drive post-purchase customer engagement. This year, Ralph Lauren began sewing labels with QR codes into garments as a means to track its supply chain with more transparency. The designer brand also displays the code in stores for access to interactive shopping trips.
But again, it’s all in the execution. Our research shows 1 in 3 respondents reported running into an issue when scanning a QR code, with the top frustrations being slow load times and difficulty scanning the code. Expanding the application of QR codes is a natural next step, but brands must make processes—like using QR codes for payment—more seamless and beneficial for customers. One way to encourage usage is to incorporate perks, like accessing special promotions or receiving loyalty points after interacting with the QR code.
Incorporating contactless options means introducing new touchpoints in the customer journey. And ensuring these experiences are consistent can be a big challenge. The only way brands can succeed is to define the customer experience from the customer’s point of view.
Today’s consumers define their own touchpoints and engage with your brand when + how they want—and you need an agile cross-channel strategy to keep pace. To learn more, watch the video: How can brands ensure they’re providing consistent experiences across touchpoints?
Josie Gaeckle | VP, Client Insights