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Grubhub Powers Through Pandemic on Five9 Platform

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Photo of a restaurant door with a Grubhub sign
Stock: Simone - stock.adobe.com
For many Americans, food ordering and delivery platform Grubhub has become synonymous with the pandemic experience, their connection to the world of food outside their homes. For Grubhub, meeting in-home dining requests took contact center operations to a whole new level.
 
“The last year — over a year now — has just seen tremendous growth and change for us. Nothing was stable, nothing was the same … just nonstop growth … which is continuing in 2021,” Gina Greeder, a contact center systems administrator at Grubhub, said during a session at a briefing event CCaaS provider Five9 hosted last week.
 
Consider these statistics, shared during the session: In 2020, Grubhub provided nearly $9 billion in gross food sales to local takeout restaurants, processed more than 658,000 daily orders, served more than 31 million active diners, and allotted more than $4 million in driver tips. “Whether for tier-one customer care or tier-two restaurant driver support, we just had volume like we had never seen before” — so much so that the company sometimes found itself hiring 100 agents in a day, Greeder said. “It was basically, with every partner we work with, just get everyone — get them trained, and we’ll get the licenses and everything they need.”
 
And, because the Five9 platform already provided a remote agent capability, Grubhub was able to hire at-home workers and transition existing agents to home environments without too much hassle, other than getting them the appropriate hardware, she added. Regarding that hardware, rather than sending agents home with their desktops and all the peripherals they’d need, Grubhub instead scrambled to distribute laptops, Chromebooks, and even refurbished devices to its newly at-home workforce. “We made anything work until we could get them the hardware they needed,” said Greeder, adding that the strategy worked well, since it was able to get “pretty much every machine besides some really old Macs” to work with the Five9 platform.
 
Today, Grubhub’s customer care operation staffs thousands of agents, some internal and others working for business process outsourcers, said Greeder, who joined the company eight years ago as agent number 60. Over the years, she has had a variety of responsibilities, including workforce management, forecasting and planning, and now, telephony. “I’ve kind of touched every aspect of Five9,” she added.
 
In addition to staffing up, Grubhub needed to make some system adjustments to handle the surge in volume, Greeder said.
 
For example, the growth surge led to call queues the likes of which the company had never seen before, “and that’s obviously not the best experience for a customer or for an agent who gets a caller that’s been sitting there for an hour,” she said. To address lengthy call queues, Grubhub modified its IVR to provide situational messaging and encourage the use of self-service options. Additionally, because of the volume, it eliminated “warm handoffs” that required one agent to talk to the next when handing off a customer. Now, Grubhub makes sure that contextual information comes along with a ticket as a customer moves from one department to another, so agents no longer need to provide information to each other, Greeder said.
 
With all predictability out the window, Grubhub naturally found itself being much more reactive than it had been before the pandemic hit. That meant it has had to adjust to being flexible, saying “‘OK, this is what we’ve seen for the past week, and we’re just gonna go with it, even though this isn’t what we saw last year.’ … Now it’s just a ‘Hey, let’s try it. Let’s see if it works’ sort of thing,” Greeder said.
 
The contact center also is working on automating as much as it can, Greeder said. Workflow automation is particularly important, and getting as much information to agents as possible, she added. “We are a company that is so tied to things like weather and events and holidays… all it takes is a snowstorm in New York, and all our contacts, all our forecasts go out the window … so what can we stop in the IVR?”
 
As Greeder concluded, Grubhub and Five9 have grown — and scaled — together over the years. “I’m hoping to continue [that journey] plus [take advantage] all the new automations that will give our customers a better experience,” because, she noted, “our restaurants are very different from our diners, and they need different things, and I think [Five9] will be able to help us with that.”

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