The first Women of CX webinar of 2022 takes a deep dive into goods and retail delivery.
Gopuff launched in 2013 in Philadelphia, emerging as something of a variation on the Deliveroo and JustEat style of fast food fulfilment – offering convenience store goods delivered in minutes.
One of gopuff’s USPs is that the brand owns the experience end-to-end. This means the service doesn’t need to depend on separate businesses such as local restaurants to ensure their customers are satisfied. Gopuff has more control over the whole user journey. This also gives the brand a unique perspective on CX – from the top of the funnel, right through to delivery and beyond.
Of course, thanks in no small part to the Coronavirus pandemic and the accelerated digitisation of our lives in the past couple of years, gopuff has scaled up rapidly. In 2021 the company acquired Fancy in the UK and kickstarted its operations outside the US.
Our very own Anisha Kainth recently chatted with the Director of Customer Engagement at gopuff, Sara Fogel. Read on for our key takeaways from their chat – covering everything from changes in the industry, challenges as the brand has scaled up, to plans for keeping the business growing – and check out the video below for the whole conversation, including the Q&A.
How did you start your journey into the world of CX?
Fogel’s background is in PR – using social media monitoring to gain an insight into customer sentiment for various brands.
‘That whetted my appetite for this idea of understanding how people talk about their experiences, what they’re interested in and what they need,’ she says. ‘I moved into a job where they were using customers posting on social media to inform any kind of strategy you can imagine.’
Fogel points to this early work – where she used social media sentiment to help shape marketing campaigns, product development and even broader business strategies – as an excellent lesson in understanding just how powerful the voice of the customer is.
‘And then I landed at gopuff,’ she says. ‘We’re such an audience first company. We know so much about our customers – from how they’re shopping to how they’re talking about gopuff – we use that to drive our strategy and our choices as we continue to grow.’
What area of CX do you enjoy the most?
Fogel loves the nerdy side of CX; research, hard data – anything that unearths something interesting or surprising about how customers interact with the products they use.
An example of this comes from her previous work for the relatively innocuous CPG favourite: cranberry juice.
‘One thing we learned is that people were drinking their cranberry juice from wine glasses when they were trying not to drink alcohol,’ she says. ‘We built this entire strategy around the idea of elevating cranberry juice as a premium experience…they can drink it out of a nicer bottle; they can maybe have different flavours to pair with food.’
‘We did not think this was the road we were going to go down for cranberry juice, but it was fun!’
How have you upheld your CX strategy through gopuff’s rapid growth?
Any company that grows as quickly as gopuff will have to overcome challenges.
Where CX is concerned, brands need to be agile and adaptable. For gopuff – a business built on being audience first – it simply can’t scale up if it doesn’t grow with its customers.
‘The key is to strip away this idea of strategy being prescriptive,’ Fogel says. ‘Companies that pick a lane and stay in that lane are going to lose a lot of customers.’
Gopuff has shaped their internal processes, the tech they use, and how they structure their teams to adapt and evolve as their customer base changes and expands.
Specific CX challenges in a fast-growing company
In the past year, gopuff have made special efforts to decentralise their data-driven experts.
Decentralising data experts ensures insight and data support for all strategies and decisions are available across the company. But it comes with its challenges. Teams can duplicate efforts and can end up operating in silos.
Fogel points to getting teams aligned on what to prioritise via regular check-ins. They also have insight leads who work across the company but meet regularly to discuss what is analysed and what challenges they are coming across before setting a roadmap for implementing strategy business-wide.
Why is being data-driven critical to gopuff’s success?
Fogel highlights a key difference here between marketing and customer experience.
There is a degree of intuition in marketing that then becomes validated (or not) by the data. For CX, she sees things working the opposite way round.
‘With the customer experience, we have to start with data,’ she says. ‘The data tells us what the problem is, and then our intuition tells us how to solve that.’
‘I enjoy it much more,’ Fogel continues. ‘It feels like everything I put forward and all the ideas I have are grounded in something factual and are very hard to argue against. It’s a good way to win arguments.’
Is some CX data more critical than others?
Depending on the challenge, different data sets can become more or less critical for Fogel.
‘You start with the challenge and figure out what’s the first data point you need,’ she says. ‘And that points you in the direction of: Can I make a decision, or do I need to dig further?’
For example, when it comes to the merchandise gopuff carries, the team will start broadly with social listening to get the big picture. Social listening can then lead to a survey of customers to get a more in-depth understanding of their opinions on these products and syndicated research that looks at how other brands are already selling them.
Beyond this, after the product launches, Fogel will continuously monitor how it is received – but ultimately, it’s how data from different sources work together which gives the best picture of how a particular product or campaign is working.
How are you focusing on customer retention?
Gopuff has grown rapidly and gained many new customers, but retaining existing customers is also hugely important.
As Fogel highlights, customer retention is also very challenging.
‘Customer expectations are changing on a regular basis,’ she says. ‘We’ve grounded ourselves in key elements of the customer experience that we feel drive a return visit.’
For gopuff, these key elements include:
- Speed of delivery
- Availability of products
- Customer service
‘If you say you’re going to deliver in 30 minutes, it’s super frustrating if your delivery shows up in 60 minutes,’ Fogel says. ‘It’s equally as frustrating if your delivery shows up in 10 – because you weren’t ready for it.’
‘Finding those insights that balance what a customer needs and what we can accomplish as a company helps drive that retention in a scalable way.’
How have customer expectations changed?
As we have seen, one of gopuff’s USPs is that they own the end-to-end customer experience. This means they can’t blame the restaurant if the food isn’t up to scratch, but they also have more control over the customer journey than many others in their industry.
‘There’s a lot more expectation in ensuring the order is correct,’ Fogel says. ‘If I see something is in stock, it better be in stock. As more companies have popped up that do what gopuff does, those higher expectations solidify even further.’
‘We work to automate every piece of the customer experience so that it’s technologically driven,’ Fogel continues. ‘We know we have the right products in stock. We know how long it will take for the order to be packed. We know how long the delivery is going to take. It goes back to the idea of reliability. That’s the core of everything for customers.’
Takeaways: Focuses and challenges for 2022
From a CX perspective, Fogel returns to this notion of reliability as the core focus for 2022. But from a business perspective, the brand is very much aiming towards a year of more scalable growth.
‘The two are connected,’ she says. ‘It’s not just about how many customers we can get. It’s how many customers we can get that want to be a part of gopuff. We want to bring you on because gopuff is the right fit for your lifestyle, because we service your needs, because we’re a reliable partner for you.’
Fogel also points to processing data as the most significant challenge as we move into 2022.
‘How do we manage all of this information?’ she says. ‘Ensuring we have the right people internally to handle each element, to make the decisions and to communicate it correctly. As the organisation gets bigger, there are more people I need to share insights with, and there are more people I need to convince this is the right way of doing things.’
‘In 2022, putting in processes and building trust across teams that we are the experts that can help make those decisions, that’s critical.