Interview Barbara Martin Coppola, CIO, Grubhub

Interview Interview Barbara Martin Coppola, CIO, Grubhub

by Kristin Burnham

Posted on 11-16-2017

At Grubhub, the nation’s leading online and mobile food-ordering company, customer experience is front and center.

The company, which connects diners to more than 75,000 takeout restaurants nationwide, has spent the past 15 years brainstorming, testing, and perfecting new ways to grow brand affinity and user adoption, all to provide customers with the experiences they want—and ones they don’t yet know they need.

We spoke with CMO Barbara Martin Coppola about the future of customer experiences, the role data plays in keeping the brand relevant, how it has brought experience into the business, and more. What do you expect the customer experiences of the future to look like at Grubhub?

Coppola: We’re imagining even more convenience in the future experiences that our diners will be able to enjoy. For example, extreme personalization could guess what you’re likely to order or what would actually fit into your life at this moment with a very high level of precision. Imagine being inspired by visualizing the restaurant and the cuisine of the restaurant through augmented reality techniques.

Right now, we use a lot of images and data to push suggestions to individual diners. Consider the other dimensions that we could add into the inspiration for or the visualization of the experience. There are multiple dimensions that we can add in the future thanks to technological advancements in augmented reality or deep learning, and I think these are all fabulous things to think about. How are you taking that imagination of the future and applying it to what you’re doing now?

Coppola: We’re looking to make customer experiences richer with data. Grubhub has been focused for almost 15 years on the food experience and connecting diners to their favorite restaurants. We have more data than anybody else in the nation around food trends—what people love, what they order, at what time, and with what frequency.

We can use all this data to get even better experiences at every stage of the maturity of the diner. This is extreme personalization, and machine learning is a big part of it so we can get an idea of what you want to see: whether it’s inspiration, whether you’re looking to reorder immediately, or preorder for the future because you’re having a group of people coming to your home to watch the Super Bowl. There’s a lot of different things we can do to get the experience right. Can you expand on the role that data plays in keeping your brand relevant?

Coppola: Data is core to everything we do. It allows us to be relevant at the right moments, and where a connection with the diner can be made most effectively. We use data to determine the dish or restaurant we put in front of you, and we use it to understand what channels we need to use to reach you more effectively, at what time of the day, and with what frequency.

We produce a lot of stories that showcase a restaurant, for example. We did one for International Women’s Day featuring different chefs who told their life stories and why they’ve succeeded. It was one of the most seen and highest-engagement pieces that we’ve had in the history of Grubhub.

We’re thinking about beautiful stories, inspiring dishes, and trends that build a connection with a brand, as well as the personalization of ideas for what you might want to eat at different times of the day or for different occasions.

We measure all of this—the customer experience at every touch point—which gives us a holistic view of the touch points that are working and the ones that we need to improve. Would you say that Grubhub is an experience-led organization? Can you share an example that demonstrates how you fit experience into the business?

Coppola: Yes, we’re an experience-led organization. We’ve been obsessing about this community of food lovers for 15 years and are really trying to get it right from a process perspective, from a diet perspective, and from constant A/B testing to get your experiences right and scale them.

One example: We understood that our customers wanted help when they have a big party planned, like for Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl, or to watch the Oscars. We developed the preorder functionality so we could help these people order ahead and have peace of mind knowing that their food will be delivered when they wanted it. The last Super Bowl campaign we did across preorder was so successful that we will repeat this functionality marketing as part of different occasions in people’s lives. What is Grubhub’s approach to growing brand affinity and user adoption?

Coppola: One example that showcases this is how we move as our diners mature into new life stages. At the college level, students plan their meals and learn how to feed themselves in the midst of a hectic schedule and a social life. We have a lot of dedicated activities that are just for this lifestyle, in order to be top of mind.

Now, imagine they graduate and become more wealthy. They are emotionally attached to this brand already since it was introduced at the college stage. They’re now living an urban life, perhaps with a roommate, and the variety of cuisines available to them is bigger, so we adjust to be in touch and bring these new communities and interests to them.

Eventually, they’ll have their own family with kids, and once again have different food preferences and needs at this life stage. Those are some examples of how we really try to get the experience right—not just the product experience, but also the channels that we use.

If we don’t get something right the first time, we test and try again. We put out different messages on different channels and we see what works and doesn’t. At the end of the day, we optimize with constant feedback that our users are giving us to try to maximize the value and the connection that we have with them. How are you structured internally to execute your mission to be experience-led?

Coppola: First is we constantly A/B test so we have data to drive our decisions. We aim to have a feedback loop really, really quickly after we launch something. The second thing is we cultivate a culture of community around food that’s focused around our restaurants and our diners to really understand how to connect better. We do a lot of research and we try to have inspired choices and functionality to help them connect with us.

And finally, we also try to imagine experiences that we would like to have as diners. A lot of us at Grubhub are foodies, and so we hold brainstorming sessions that help us put a roadmap together of experiences that we want to drive. Then we’ll test them with our consumers to see whether or not they resonate.

Topics: Experience Cloud, Insights Inspiration, Digital Transformation, Marketing, CMO by Adobe