Today, buying groceries and other household essentials online is as common as applying hand sanitiser. But that wasn’t always the case. As Americans’ shopping habits evolved with the Covid-19 pandemic, orders with the same-day-delivery service Shipt nearly tripled during those first few months. ‘We knew we were going to have to react quickly, with agility and flexibility, to meet the demand,’ CEO Kelly Caruso told CNBC.
In just a matter of weeks, Shipt launched contactless delivery for customers, distributed personal protective equipment for Shipt Shoppers fulfilling in-store orders and scaled up its shopper network to meet growing demand. At the heart of this growth operation was Slack, the secure channel-based messaging platform.
Although Shipt had been using Slack since 2014, it fully integrated Slack to navigate the complex ecosystem of members, shoppers and retailers using its online delivery services in 2017. With services available in 5,000 cities – and counting – Shipt’s usage of Slack has grown simultaneously:
- Employees across the business exchange almost 100,000 Slack messages each day
- 78% of Slack users at Shipt use Slack apps and integrations, including Google Drive, Zapier and Polly
- More than 500 employees are using one of Shipt’s 100 workflows created in Slack with Workflow Builder, an automation tool designed to streamline processes; workflows are custom-built for each department’s needs
‘It would be very hard to overstate the value Slack provides across the company, and directly for me and my team,’ says Chayse Porter, Shipt’s Senior Director of IT. ‘We couldn’t live without it.’
‘Slack helps streamline our administrative tasks, so we cut down tremendously on response times, helping us drive better, faster outcomes and focus on the heart of any issue.’
Delivering faster, higher-quality support for members, shoppers and retailers with Slack
At Shipt, Director of Customer Service Brian Malone leads the Experience Team, lovingly called ‘X-Team’, that provides support for customers, shoppers and retailers. Malone’s team has grown by 85% in 2020 during the pandemic, and handles support requests that take the shape of three to four phone calls, online chats or emails per minute
A typical issue for shoppers might be an order-processing error, or having to unexpectedly cancel an order. Customers might also get in touch with a billing question. Malone’s team uses Slack channels – a single place to share messages, digital tools and files – to streamline access to internal knowledge and subject-matter experts so that support agents can respond quickly to requests.
‘From a communication standpoint, Slack is the lifeblood of our team,’ Malone says. ‘We use Slack channels as a collective knowledge base to source answers and communicate with supervisors, which ultimately helps us successfully deliver on our KPIs.’
The X-Team uses a mix of channels and Slack automation to record support requests, which in turn leads to more learning opportunities for support agents. For example, in #x-team, support agents can ask fellow experts how to fulfil specific member requests. If the support agents are stumped, they can quickly and easily flag the request to a supervisor for assistance.
‘By automatically recording key support requests in-channel, we’re adding an extra layer of quality control and creating visibility at the supervisor level,’ Malone says. Supervisors can then identify coaching opportunities to level up service agents when needed.
Other channels that support operations and logistics for the X-Team include:
- #x-team-comms to coordinate breaks, meeting times and schedules
- #x-team-announcements for important changes, events and process updates, as well as providing public kudos for teammates
The X-Team also use #member-feedback to proactively surface insights and address feedback from members. For example, if a member provides a net promoter score (NPS) for a Shipt experience that dips below a certain threshold, the X-Team receives a ping in #nps-closeloop through the Zapier Slack integration. Shipt will then work with the member to improve the score, enabling the company to provide a better experience next time. An X-Team support agent will then use a ✅ ‘reacji’ to indicate that the member’s score has been addressed.
‘Slack helps our support team work more efficiently, because we can quickly access and share crucial information, which allows our agents to rapidly respond to requests from members, shoppers or retailers.’
Harnessing cross-functional expertise to create a smoother experience for shoppers
The growth of the Shipt Shopper community has required its shopper operations team to scale up accordingly. Jake Shackelford, a shopper operations lead, and his team are responsible for ensuring that shopper operations run smoothly and efficiently. They help to resolve shoppers’ issues, including those at the physical shops, while collecting feedback to inform the way that the shopper programme is run.
Before the pandemic, the team could hold huddle meetings in person to quickly navigate incidents. But Shackelford noticed a knowledge gap when everyone went remote. So he meticulously compiled a Google spreadsheet of data and used Workflow Builder to create the Successor welcome bot in Slack. The custom application helps to onboard colleagues by providing an overview of available resources, and allows the team to answer commonly asked questions, right in Slack. This also makes it easier for them to loop in other experts in real time to resolve issues.
‘Our team uses Slack to bring in cross-functional partners, such as product or market operations, who we work with to implement shopper feedback as quickly as possible,’ says Shackelford. When a question is better suited to another department, his team adds a corresponding emoji, and the Successor bot automatically redirects users to the right team and channel, tagging the user. ‘The bot we created with Workflow Builder has been a huge time-saver for us,’ Shackelford says.
‘One of the biggest benefits of Slack is that it’s decreased our hold times when addressing support needs for shoppers. Slack has saved immeasurable amounts of time.’
Securely working with retailers while driving meaningful partnerships using Slack Connect
Kit Naramore, the Vice President of Partner Success at Shipt, manages partnerships with more than 120 retailers – up 50% from 2019. Her 18-person team navigates joint business planning, quarterly reviews and more with retailers such as Target, Costco, H-E-B, Petco and CVS.
Each retailer is assigned an account manager, and some partners share a private Slack channel with Shipt using Slack Connect, the secure way to work across organisational boundaries.
Slack Connect is especially essential when there’s ongoing software testing between partners, and better serves highly technical platform integrations. ‘Our engineers collaborate directly with our external partners’ engineers using Slack to troubleshoot in real time,’ Naramore explains. ‘This helps us solve issues faster and provide a better overall experience for our retailers.’
When issues arise for Shipt’s retail partners, such as Hy-Vee supermarkets in the Midwestern United States, Slack Connect sets the stage for success. ‘We can be more collaborative and drive more impactful engagement with our partners using Slack Connect, especially when compared to the limitations of email silos,’ Naramore says. ‘Teams across both organisations are able to rally, create that natural banter and make light of a situation that might otherwise be stressful.’
‘Slack Connect is easier than scheduling a call with a retail partner, which slows everything down. To communicate in real time speeds up the collaboration process and is hugely valuable for everyone.’
Tripling the speed of internal IT support with Slack
In 2017, Porter came on board to lead the IT team at Shipt. ‘Slack helped us define our culture and grow together,’ he says. Efficiency is a top priority for his team, especially during periods of significant growth, such as those the company experienced in 2020.
Porter’s small but mighty team uses Zendesk for internal IT support ticketing, which integrates directly into Slack channels. Now, he says, ‘because we leverage the Zendesk Slack integration, every ticket is in Slack, so we can solve problems directly in channels.’
In most cases, Porter’s team uses Slack threads to comment on and resolve issues in Slack channels. And with customised Slack messaging retention, they can refer back to any previous communications as needed.
Over the past few years, Porter and his team have also successfully defined Slack processes across Shipt. This includes using Workflow Builder to make the process of submitting an issue intuitive.
‘Slack’s Workflow Builder was super-easy to use, and we’ve had great adoption since introducing it,’ Porter says. By accessing all necessary information in the same place through an automated workflow, he and his team can create efficiencies that unlock more time for high-value work. The process is triggered in two ways:
- When new hires join #it-happens, a bot takes them through how to submit issues to IT
- The IT support form command summons a questionnaire that collects pertinent details about the issue
Once submitted, the issue is routed to #it-happens and an automated response is sent via direct message back to the requester. Emergencies such as app interruptions are routed through another workflow and sent to a private channel that Porter’s on-call team monitors 24/7.
Emoji trigger 11 additional workflows, often for more common requests. For example, when someone needs a loaner laptop, a customised ‘loaner’ emoji triggers a bot that takes them through the process; if they need to pick the laptop up in person, a layer of security confirms pandemic protocol.
To coordinate with outside partners such as Okta, Porter and his team use Slack Connect. ‘We get immediate support from Okta in Slack Connect,’ he says. ‘Instead of emailing and waiting three to four hours, we get instant responses.’
By working with Okta in a central place, Porter has been able to securely speed up work outside his organisation’s walls, avoiding the rising threats of email fraud that can increase costs and risks. The same efficiencies that he uncovers can also be extended internally to external partners.
Shipt is now available to more than 80% of households across the US and isn’t slowing down any time soon, which is why it counts on Slack to keep up the pace. The company will continue to support its members, shoppers and retailers while meeting the needs of the American families who count on it to deliver groceries, office supplies and household goods.