Delivering a better omnichannel customer experience
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Designing a frictionless, convenient brand experience
Panera Bread has leaned into its omnichannel UX design for more than a decade, consistently and innovatively meeting customers on each individual’s own terms.
In this week’s Insights Unlocked, Liz Miller from Constellation Research chats with Andy Parquette, a senior UX designer at Panera Bread. Their conversation took place at The Human Insight Summit (THiS) in Seattle last month.
Panera's small UX team aims to support customers across their entire journey, from home or work to the restaurant and back; from research to visual design.
“The sun never sets on what UX touches,” said Parquette, a senior UX designer at Panera Bread.
That investment has paid off.
According to its parent company, Panera Bread continues to expand its leading digital capabilities, which today account for 51% of total sales, while increasing its loyalty base to 53 million members and launching an innovative loyalty subscription model that has resulted in 25% of all Panera transactions now coming from Unlimited Sip Club members.
All that averages out to about three million weekly transactions across the more than 2,000 Panera Bread bakery-cafes in 48 states (including the District of Columbia) in the US and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. names.
Today’s customer experience is much more dynamic and interconnected than ever. Consumers who switch between online, in-app, or in-store kiosk shopping expect their experiences to be relevant, fast and seamless.
This shift to an omnichannel experience was accelerated by the pandemic. Brands who haven’t made that commitment to an omnichannel experience across touchpoints risk being left behind.
In their conversation, Liz, a vice president and principal analyst at Constellation, and Andy explore the ever-evolving landscape of experience research, innovation, and the challenges of designing digital experiences for a diverse audience.
Introducing AI workstreams to the customer experience
Liz asked Andy about the experience leaning into new technologies, such as AI.
“It’s very exciting for me,” Andy said. “The opportunity to add AI anywhere in our experience, I look at it as something incredibly exciting, incredibly interesting.”
For example, they have added ‘Popular Bundles’ in the catering work stream that allows customers who may not know what to order to feed 50 people to just add the number of meals needed and any dietary restrictions and the AI will populate some options.
Andy said the company is really focused on “how can we use AI to make our customers experiences much better,” he said.
How design and research workflows are changing
Whether it is using new collaboration tools, testing new AI offerings or just getting into restaurants and talking with guests, Parquette said his team needs to move fast because their customers are moving fast.
“We have limited time and we have to fight for that limited time,” Parquette said. “So you make your choices carefully, do the research, and then really hold that up and keep it as your north star.”
How technology platforms accelerate communication and collaboration?
Andy said they use Microsoft Team, Zoom, Figma and Figjam and other collaboration platforms to stay connected with their remote and hybrid work teams, as well as the teams located in different cities. But “we go into the office as a design team at least once a month,” he said. “It’s very important for us to get together.”
How can we increase cross-functional collaboration between design, development and research teams?
Andy said it is important for development, product and design to get together and get aligned though that doesn’t always happen. They also will go into the Panera cafes with folks from product to talk with customers, watch them use the kiosks, watch them use the app, “and just really include them that way.”
Panera’s Unlimited Sip Club