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Food delivery platforms: How to stay in control of your brand

For many businesses, outsourcing delivery requirements can be nerve-wracking as it means letting go of a bit of a control of your brand.

By Chloe Chaplin

There’s no doubt that giving customers the ability to have food from your restaurant delivered to their door is no longer a luxury reserved for venues that choose to make this part of their service. Food delivery platforms are more popular than ever and it’s now something consumers expect as they opt to stay in more and more and the prevalence of services making it easy to get whatever they want in their own home continues to rise.

Luckily, there are a host of third-party delivery services that will take care of getting the food to your customers’ doors, and there are definite benefits to be had by partnering with one of these platforms. Whether that be offering your customers convenience and thereby giving them the opportunity to order from you more often, or the ability to be discovered by new customers who find your business via the delivery platform, food delivery benefits are there for the taking.

For many businesses however, outsourcing delivery requirements can be nerve-wracking as it means letting go of a bit of a control of your brand and how customers experience it. And while you do certainly need to be aware of how customers may perceive your brand as a result of their experience with these third parties, it’s also important to remember that you’re ultimately still in control of the customer journey and there are certain critical elements that you can affect that will determine the way customers perceive and respond to what you do.

Here are some key areas of the customer journey that you can control when you’re offering delivery through a third party.

Your brand

Regardless of whether you’re working with a third-party delivery platform or not, establishing and maintaining your overarching brand is crucial. And branding doesn’t just mean your logo. It’s the combination of every interaction customers have with you and the way you approach these interactions – everything from what’s on the menu, to your restaurant’s vibe, the way your staff interact with customers, and yes, your marketing. It’s about the feeling that people get when they hear about your business online, from a friend, or when they walk through your doors. 

So even though you might be placing the delivery of your food in the hands of a third-party delivery platform, it’s important that your overall brand, and all the areas it comes through – from social media to customer service – is strong.

Your menu

Some foods are best enjoyed fresh from the kitchen, so it’s important that you assess your menu to determine which items you’d like to offer for delivery and/or which items may need to be tweaked to ensure they’re still optimal after factoring in delivery times and modes of transport. There’s no rule that says you need to offer your complete menu for delivery, and while customers may go in search of their favourites, it’s much better to only offer foods you know will taste great when they’re received. 

Select the dishes that you know will travel best, housed in appropriate packaging that will maintain the quality of the food. Designing a menu that’s been built for delivery is a great way of ensuring your restaurant is providing customers with the dining experience they expect from your brand, so they know they can order from you again and again, with confidence.

Customer experience

Even though your food is being delivered to customers via a third-party, you still have lots of control over the quality of their experience, and this is one of the most crucial elements of the customer journey. Doing everything you can to nail this experience means that not only will this positive association with your brand mean customers will be likely to order from you again, but they’ll also be more likely to seek you out, visit in person and tell their friends.

As with your approach to in-house customer experience, a lot comes down to organisation. It’s important that you recognise that adding delivery to your business’ offering will bring up some additional challenges that need to be dealt with, which you’ll need to plan for accordingly.

Who will handle delivery orders? Who will package the food and ensure it’s ready to go on time? Has at least one employee per shift been trained in assembling delivery orders? Does your team understand exactly where and how to interact with delivery drivers? Have they been trained on what to do if there’s a technical problem with the delivery app? Have staff been prepared for how to deal with customer complaints about incorrect, incomplete, or missing orders? All these questions need to be answered to ensure everyone knows their role and orders can be fulfilled in a smooth and timely matter, so that customers have the best experience possible.

Correct orders

This feeds into customer experience but deserves its own section because it’s that important.

Bottom line? If you stuff up someone’s order, they’ll get mad and think twice before ordering from you again. There’s a special kind of rage associated with ordering and waiting for a meal, only to have it arrive incorrectly, so care needs to be taken to get it right every time.

Special touches

Just because you’re outsourcing the delivery of your food, doesn’t mean you can’t provide a little bit extra to wow your customers and make them feel special. 

Have a think about aspects of your brand that can be applied to your deliveries. Even small touches such as including signature condiments or special offers within the packaging will set you apart and keep your brand top of mind.

Managing objections

Just like in your restaurant, if something goes wrong, it’s important to acknowledge it and take steps to rectify. 

There’ll always be the occasional dissatisfied customer who might complain because the food was cold, drinks spilled or there was an order mix up. Even if the criticism relates to something that was out of your control, it’s important to face it head on, accept responsibility and let customers know that it isn’t good enough. Don’t risk negative reviews; being prepared to react to these scenarios, perhaps through a special offer, a discount or a personal apology, will keep your goodwill intact and your customers coming back.

Summary

Outsourcing delivery doesn’t mean you can wash your hands of anything that happens once the food goes out your door. How a customer experiences their delivered food will affect the way they think about your brand thereafter, so it’s important to be thoughtful about all the ways your brand is viewed as a whole. Taking the time to also think about how you can tailor the third-party delivery service to align with your brand values and the overall experience you want to create will help promote repeat business and more opportunities for customers to try what you have to offer.