Shipt is a grocery delivery service that lets members order everyday goods, household essentials, and groceries from their local store for delivery right to their door. Launched in 2014 in Birmingham, Alabama, Shipt has expanded their customer base over 5,000 cities and counting, from Atlanta to San Francisco and partners with retailers from Target to Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Shipt’s team increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic as people began to rely on grocery deliveries and turned to Shipt’s app from the comfort of their own homes.
Today, Shipt’s team is close to 1,200 employees with 500 of those making up their largest team, the customer experience team, also known as the X Team. Employees are based primarily out of Birmingham and San Francisco with other teammates more remote.
Shipt started to use Cooleaf in the summer of 2020, right as their organization began to settle into remote work long-term while their team began to grow as needs for the pandemic rose.
Shipt’s goal was to expand the employee experience and create a means to communicate team initiatives from goals to core values in a space that felt welcoming and engaging no matter your role or team. They knew they wanted to utilize recognition and incorporate incentives to drive weekly benchmarks, specifically for the X team.
Shipt had a thriving workplace community that utilized Slack with specific channels for appreciation and celebrations. Prior to the pandemic, they began to incorporate goals but they saw opportunities in how they could magnify the employee experience with a more holistic approach. And with their large team now distributed, the Cooleaf platform became a means to stay connected without a physical office for watercolor talk.
The Power of Public Recognition
Shipt’s main communication hub, Slack, already had a dedicated channel where managers and peers could give shout outs, but manager and peer recognition was not consistent.
Through Cooleaf’s Slack API, employees were able to issue recognitions via Slack, receive notifications of new recognitions, but employees could also check out the latest shoutouts directly on Cooleaf’s feed via the desktop or mobile app.
Making recognitions public gave new life to peer and manager appreciation.
“There was an absence of a way for people to say ‘thank you’, and Cooleaf serves as a really good foundation for appreciation but also as a reminder,” Walt Till, Shipt’s Director of Employee Experience, said. “It gives us a way to elevate recognition. Sure, people used to send a Slack to say ‘thanks’ but when you get the public recognition it adds so much more.”
It also added a bit of friendly competition and awareness for the managers. Once they noticed certain Team Commanders, leaders for individual customer experience teams, were routinely recognizing their direct reports on the Cooleaf feed, other managers followed suit, determined to not be the manager left in the dust.
Cooleaf’s automation for birthdays and years of service awards also saved time for their admin team, who manually tracked and issued the celebratory messages on Slack before Cooleaf. With such a large team and all the dates to keep track of, Cooleaf’s automation saved time and ensured not one celebration was missed.
“Because this platform has everything public, puts everything out there, everyone sees it and joins in, and that’s such a positive driver,” said Walt.
Embracing Core Values
Alongside adopting a dedicated public recognition platform, Shipt worked with a third-party company to develop their core values for their team: Caring, Drive, Rally, Positivity, and Authenticity.
When Shipt introduced the updated values and purpose statement, the organization encouraged employees to use Cooleaf to recognize someone for living those values.
“It was a really cool moment where we were able to reinforce all these things we hold to be really important,” he said. “And people were getting recognized who maybe didn’t realize they’ve had an impact on somebody.”
Recognition was not just from managers to direct-reports. Peers recognized peers or higher ups, and managers recognized one another for the work they inspired.
For Shipt, utilizing the core values on Cooleaf not only helped employees imbue the values but kept them top of mind. Alongside everyday platform use, the Shipt organization highlights a Cooleaf recognition for each of their core values at their monthly all-hands meetings (along with all of the e public comments and support). That way, everyone can join in on the cheer.
Motivating the Customer Experience Team with Performance-Driven Recognition
Shipt’s experience team, the X Team, fields inquiries through phone calls and chats from customers and local Shipt shoppers, who grocery shop for members of the app. The X Team also has a more senior experience team called the Flex Team, which fields inquiries from partners like Target and provides support where they can. Overall the X team consists of over 500 people to-date and are primarily based in Birmingham.
As the pandemic continued, and the team itself grew while working remotely, Shipt was looking for ways to support their customer-facing employees while keeping them motivated and focused during a stressful, uncertain time.
Simultaneously, Shipt introduced performance initiatives for the X Team and Flex Team. X Team commanders leveraged these metrics to guide career conversations and review performance during quarterly or end-of-the-year check-ins.
They sought to answer: how an employee’s performance contributed to overall career growth? How could Shipt enhance that experience to the X Team?
“Our customer service team is always included in the conversation when we’re talking about Shipt as a company,” Djacob Young, Employee Experience Associate Manager at Shipt, said. “So when we talk about performance incentive initiatives, it’s not just how can we get our customer service team to be more available or productive. It’s really how can we utilize that along with the performance initiatives with the rest of the company so that we’re growing together.”
Shipt had these metrics and goals in place, but prior to Cooleaf, performance initiatives were never tied to anything specific.
Working with a Cooleaf engagement expert, Shipt refined three key metrics for the X Team and Flex Team. Together, Shipt incorporated these into a weekly and monthly performance-driven award and tied it to their core value of Drive, appropriately calling the recognition the Drive Award.
X Team and Flex Team members were awarded the Drive Award if they met certain goals or if the individual showed improvement in certain areas. Shipt specifically looked at an employee's availability in terms of receiving calls or chats and set a benchmark around 85-95% availability, depending on your team, or showing progress with 5% or 2% week-over-week.
Focusing on availability enabled X Team members to focus on quality of interactions, ensuring that each chat had the best customer experience and that the customer’s needs were met, rather than answered and churned to the next query.
Shipt tracked this data and synced it with Cooleaf, so each week, team members hitting those benchmarks could be recognized with the Drive Award and earn 40 points towards gift cards or the team store on Cooleaf.
Shipt communicated the requirements on how team members could earn the productivity awards, so everyone could get involved. Team members felt additionally motivated as the first few months of Drive Award recipients were posted publicly on Cooleaf.
“Once those first two award recognitions went out, people really started to see the outcome, and then that’s when we started to see those improvements,” Djacob said.
“Overall we saw a lot of growth and performance went up. Productivity went up. Morale went up around performance. It was really successful in driving those initiatives.”
Shipt launched the Drive Award in September and set the goal for team members to achieve 85% availability on queue. The team itself had a personal goal of reaching 85% of their team hitting that target.
With the goals and communication clear via Cooleaf, that first month saw a jump from 59.6% of the X Team right on target during the summer months to 71% in September.
Seeing results, Shipt decided to add a team-oriented challenge with “Qualitober” the next month. They focused on the team achieving 90% on queue, with approximately 40% of the team hitting the goal prior to the challenge. After just a month, the X Team saw an increase of 47% of the team achieving that benchmark.
Alongside the performance driven awards, monthly awards were also issued to X and Flex Team Commanders if their team average hit the respective goals of both Drive Awards. These were dubbed the Leader of the Pack Awards.
With data to show that their performance incentives were a big driver in encouraging team members to stay on track each week and month, Shipt could push towards a baseline goal and monitor their team’s performance overall before moving the needle a little further to continue progress for the team at large.
“It’s helpful when you have those hard numbers that are easy to surface on a regular basis,” said Walt.
And while Shipt’s business and team grew during the pandemic, the growing company was able to keep their X Team and Flex Teams connected and encouraged while working remotely, along with keeping quality of customers' replies up.
“We have a wonderful customer service team. Everyone raves about it,” Djacob said. "So we’re really proud of them. They’ve seen a lot of growth with their team but also with their productivity, individually. Which has really been great for us.”
Growing Team Culture Virtually
Like many organizations, the pandemic made Shipt’s team suddenly pivot to a remote work environment. Coming from an office with strong company culture and traditions, like announcements made over pancakes and mimosas and Friday happy hours, Shipt needed a way to continue fostering connection without that physical water-cooler to chat around.
Utilizing Cooleaf’s online challenges and events, Shipt found a way to keep their organization excited and engaged.
“We launched Cooleaf during the pandemic in the summer of 2020 at a point in time when every company was figuring out how to engage people,” Walt said. “It was a tough time for a lot of team members, and we utilized Cooleaf in any way we could dream up.”
Through Cooleaf, Shipt hosted everything from online yoga classes to fun, five o’clock Zoom celebrations for the end of the day. Utilizing incentives, Shipt encouraged team members to join in and participate.
To prompt employees to get to know one another one-on-one, Shipt utilized the Donut app via Slack and challenged team members via Cooleaf to meet someone new in their regular Monthly Donut Pairing Challenge. Employees earned points by participating and hopping on a video call with a new team member and sharing a photo of their call on Cooleaf.
Cooleaf’s online platform also provided a space so employees across all departments, from the experience to the marketing team, would share then chime in on one another posts or photos in a similar way they would in-person.
“Those were the things that were missing from being in the office, where we were so close together all the time,” said Djacob. “These events and challenges really helped some of those water-cooler moments happen naturally while working remote.”
Over time, Shipt employees began brainstorming ideas of their own too— from hosting their own masterclasses like stand-up comedy to their own Shipt Run Club, which started out with one employee’s goal for running seven days straight. Walt and his team were encouraged to see team members taking their own passions and interests and hosting challenges or events on Cooleaf themselves. You could say, they literally ran with it.
Challenge Your Approach to Employee Engagement
As Shipt’s team and approach to team culture grows, they continue to see opportunities in how they can utilize the Cooleaf.
“You probably think you know how your team engages but there’s a lot of unique ways you can challenge that and really find out how they engage using Cooleaf,” Djacob said. “A lot of us were thinking in the mindset of what our culture was. And Cooleaf challenged us to what our culture could be.”
For instance, prior to Cooleaf, a lot of the virtual connection happened on Shipt’s Slack channels. But as employee engagement grew on Cooleaf, Shipt team members extended that into their thriving Slack channels with personalized slackmojis surrounding Cooleaf.
And as 600 teammates joined Shipt during the pandemic, Shipt incorporated Cooleaf into their orientation. Cooleaf was an added perk of course, but as new teammates kicked off with points to welcome them to the platform, it also encouraged them to recognize peers and join in on virtual events immediately.
Shipt also continues to grow their work on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for their team by utilizing Cooleaf for their communications, events, and activities.
They’ve hosted a variety of online activities, from encouraging teammates to shop from AAPI businesses or to honor Black History Month with a discussion on historical speeches from African American leaders. Hosting online not only encourages everyone to join in but enables everyone to read each other’s responses and engage in a different way.
“Cooleaf helps us reinforce our values & helps [our team] understand what it really means,” Walt said.
And now as companies begin to roll out plans to return to office, Shipt is seeing opportunities in what that looks like for their team.
“We’ll consider remote employees so much more,” Walt said. “And Cooleaf will be a tool we use as we consider these hybrid teams to make sure everything is fair and equitable with everyone. If we’re going to do something in the office, how do we make sure someone at home is part of it? Cooleaf’s going to be a part of that.
This past year in the pandemic showed that having distributed teams— and now, potentially hybrid teams— connected in a single spot can make a huge difference as far as growing that culture of appreciation and team building.
“We’ve only begun on how to use Cooleaf and as we begin to get back to the office it’ll be a completely different experience and that’s exciting,” Walt said.