Over the course of one week, foodpanda Singapore has made headlines in local media outlets for its sarcasm, riddle-filled humour, as well as taking on the role of cupid through its food delivery riders. While it comes as no surprise online food delivery has surged in traffic as circuit breaker measures remain intact, the brand has fortunately also come out rich in PR.
Following one of its customer service staff's sarcastic remark to a disgruntled customer, the brand apologised for the incident, and reached out to the customer for rectifications. The customer help staff was seen replying “oh” and “so sad” when the customer said her order had been cancelled by the restaurant and she would like a refund. According to an article on Mothership, the customer had sent a feedback about the live chat staff’s replies to foodpanda. However, the issue only got worse when an apology voucher from foodpanda came in the form of SG$3.300000000000003. Meanwhile, foodpanda clarified that the voucher that the customer received had been a glitch and it had affected other customers as well.
“We have since fixed the glitch, and will continue to monitor for any potential hitches that might result in a less than pleasant experience. We have also stepped up measures to ensure that our customer service agents conduct themselves professionally at all times, and to provide helpful, sincere assistance to customers who require support,” the spokesperson said.
From glitch to riddles
However, just a day or two after the incident, foodpanda managed to switch the negative buzz around as screenshots circulated on social where its live chat staff exchanged riddles with a waiting customer. The customer had reported about a missing beverage from his order, which the service agent required some time to check on, and hence to kill time while checking the foodpanda staff posed a riddle to the customer.
The customer’s initial reaction as seen from the screenshots were of slight frustration, as he was only waiting on a refund, but the customer quickly clapped back with another riddle to the agent.
According to foodpanda, posing riddles to customers was planned and introduced to customer service agents after rounds of internal reviews and consideration of customer service best practices.
The spokesperson told Marketing customer service agents were trained to read different situations and implement the use of riddles in appropriate circumstances for the best customer service experience.
"Customer service is at the heart of everything we do, and we are always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience. In early May, we encouraged our customer service agents to pose riddles to customers as a way to keep the customers occupied and add some good humour to their day while they wait for a response to their queries. We have found that when applied in appropriate situations, humour has proven to be effective at lightening moods," she added.
The response has been mostly positive, although foodpanda said it is aware of the need of regular training in order to ensure that customer agents are able to continue posing these riddles in appropriate settings.
"Thank you babe"
And it did not stop there. foodpanda only earned more good PR when its delivery rider was lauded for playing cupid to a Singaporean couple. Marketing understands that a customer had requested a foodpanda delivery rider to pass a message to her boyfriend who had forgotten their anniversary. The message was supposed to read, “Excuse me, did you forget your anniversary?” and was asked to also add “stupid” at the end of the sentence.
In a tweet, the customer posted screenshots of her conversation with the boyfriend who confirmed that the delivery rider did pass on the message. But it did not stop there. The boyfriend then responded to the rider, “Thank you babe it's been a good one year."
According to foodpanda, these types of requests are not new but it has increased in frequency and publicity during the circuit breaker period. Thankful for the positive feedback, the spokesperson said the team is heartened to know that the platform continues to bring convenience to customers, especially during this circuit breaker period, and appreciate the support that has been given to its customer service agents and pandariders. "We’re heartened that the efforts of our riders to go beyond their duties are appreciated by customers," she added.
Meanwhile, according to Digimind, sentiments around foodpanda in Singapore has mainly been positive. Food delivery services have seen a surge in demand as a result of circuit breaker measures in Singapore. Reactions to the riddles were also largely positive, with others noting the uniqueness and quirkiness or foodpanda’s customer service, or recounting similar riddles in their interactions with the help center.
Similarly on HardwareZone, forum posters were mostly receptive, with a handful of neutral comments focusing on the final outcome of the interaction; i.e. resolving the customer’s complaint. “Foodpanda customer service” and “Foodpanda rider” were among the key topics of discussion in relation to foodpanda in Singapore from 13 - 18 May 2020.
Stephen Dale, general manager APAC, Digimind said global social distancing measures have led consumers to increase their dependency on delivery services for their food delivery and shopping needs, and these surges in demand have forced many delivery companies to adapt their processes, strategies, as well as communication strategies in order to cope.
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Coupled with consumers demand for transparency and excellent customer service, it is important for companies to retain a human touch through all customer touchpoints, and deliver a customer experience that not only satisfies needs, but also surprises and delights. For delivery services, such as foodpanda, Dale added that providing positive customer experiences will ensure the company maintains and builds a good online brand reputation, which will help to keep customers coming back to its app, while attracting new ones.
“In such a case, riddles, while fun, could fuel even further frustration with an already upset customer. However if customers go into the support chat knowing they may have a riddle to solve, it might give them something to look forward to. In such cases, being able to monitor customers’ reactions and feedback through public online channels is a great way to understand whether your customer service tactics are working or whether they need to be fine-tuned,” he explained.
In addition, just last month, foodpanda paid tribute to the contributions of delivery riders in Singapore in a series of OOH ads across Singapore. The #SGUnited 'riders unite' illustration is an expression of appreciation for all frontline delivery heroes who are keeping the rest of Singapore safe, healthy and fed during the circuit breaker period. The image features riders clad in Deliveroo, Grab, McDonald's and Pizza Hut uniform standing together with a fellow foodpanda rider.