Updated: Mar 10
By Andrew Parr
Having completed half of the series, here is what you need to know to jump right in: Each of the last two weekends, my wife and I cuddled up on our couch, scrolled social media to explore dinner delivery options, and ordered from local, independent, neighborhood restaurants. We found restaurants that were telling us their story and that had promotions that bring value. We also found restaurants that had some questionable user experiences (UX) and clumsy online ordering quirks. Today we look at curbside pick-up, timing and test runs.
My personal experience was delivery as opposed to curbside pick-up, yet so many of the lessons translate, as timing and (lack of) connection with the customer were both challenges for me. I went directly through the restaurant’s app to place this order. The good news is we got exactly what we ordered. Bad news is it was cold by the time we got it. Here is the tale of woe that led to our cold food. With this app, we were able to select our delivery time. We picked 7:20 (I know, that’s random, but it was one of the two choices and fit our window best). At 7:05 I received a text from DoorDash Drive letting me know that my driver was approaching. So, I got of our comfy couch and put on my mask in anticipation of the driver’s arrival. First issue – this was 15 minutes earlier than we had requested for delivery (I know, kind of insane to be upset about food arriving early, right?). Second issue, after 5 and 10 minutes went by, the driver still had not arrived. I checked the link from DDD, and it actually showed the driver was still at the restaurant. I then texted DDD back, and of course since everything is automated, I received a reply back asking me to click the dreaded customer service link. After giving them my email address and phone number (having already entered both upon entering the customer service site), they told me they had no record of my order. I asked if they had no record how they could be texting me repeatedly. The reply was, “we have no record of your order, call the restaurant.” REALLY? By this time, it was 7:27, and our order arrived. The driver was pleasant enough. She apologized for being late and volunteered that it was because our order was inadvertently combined with another.
Not surprisingly, timing was a major topic of conversation among our real customers on the podcast episode. Comments included, “I need them to be right on time,” “sometimes I do a double pick-up,” and “restaurants need to respect the time and effort I put into ordering from them.” The double pick-up is a daring maneuver, typically undertaken by a parent who is on their way home from work and trying to meet the needs of multiple family members by picking-up from two different restaurants for that night’s meal. Bad timing relative to what is promised will invariably result in cold food by the time it gets home. One advantage that was mentioned is restaurants which allow for food to be ordered (even before they open) and picked up at a time selected by the customer. Customer service remains of paramount importance. Just because a customer’s table is not within the four walls of the restaurant doesn’t mean service goes away. Restaurants can see their customer’s names on the ticket. They can still treat regulars like regulars. And here is the big take away: One of the podcast panelists said every restaurant should use the “Bubba Test.” By this she means, have someone the owner or management knows, who is not necessarily tech savvy, try to place an order and trace their experience from end to end. This is one of the most practical ways to debug your system. And of course, make sure your eyes are smiling when your customer shows up curbside to pick up that order!
Andrew Parr, Angry Olive Consulting's Founder, is a restaurant and hospitality industry leader with over 25 years of experience including consulting, project management, restaurant operations and talent acquisition. His education includes a BA in Psychology and History from the University of Wisconsin along with a JD from Hamline University School of Law.
Andrew was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and currently resides in Denver with his wife Jody and their dog Cooper. Andrew is a Past President of the Board of Directors for the Scleroderma Foundation – Rocky Mountain Chapter.