A Total Schmear Show: How An AI Agent Could’ve Handled GrubHub’s Promo

Crystal Romero | Director of Content


Someone was 3,630th in line to talk to GrubHub’s support team. 


That’s right. Three-thousand-f**king-six hundred and thirty. That’s more people than the population of Elkins, Arkansas


The (second to) worst part? It was just for a missing food order. 


On May 17, 2022 GrubHub launched a free lunch campaign to New York Residents–a $15 code that lasted for 3 hours. Which is a great idea, but only if you have an operationally sound customer support strategy to back it. 


6,000 orders were placed per minute. Outside of complete pandemonium and mental agony for restaurant workers, GrubHub’s customer support quickly turned into a dumpster fire. This fire was fueled by days long wait times, angry customers, and cringey chatbot interactions like this:

                                            Bad bot example

The lesson learned from this food fiasco? Deploy the right customer support technology - especially ahead of a massive promo. Chatbots are helpful in some situations, but are more hurtful in others as the screenshot demonstrates. With an AI agent, things potentially would have ended differently from a customer support perspective. Here’s how: 


Biting the Onion


A spokesperson for Grubhub said, “While we knew 72% of New York workers call lunch the most important meal of the day, our free lunch promotion exceeded all expectations."


But…did it exceed all expectations? On the number of orders sure, but when it came to exceeding customer expectations for support, absolutely not. These customer support screenshots and roasts from Twitter did not disappoint:

                  Fred Bot

                   worst service ever--social caption

                    GH Promo

Nathaniel, a Manhattan resident, told Buzzfeed, "I hope they get blasted for this extremely poorly thought out promo.”

                        Social comlplaint-GH

When or if Grubhub launches another promo code like this, customers will be wary of placing an order and will look for reasons why they should trust the brand again. GrubHub and all other service based companies, Thankful is here to support you and rebuild the bridges of trust.


The Meaty Difference Between a Chatbot and an AI Agent


From what we know about GrubHub’s customer support channels, they offer a chatbot on SMS and chat, live person chat, email, and voice. This means a large chunk of the thousands of support interactions they received were human powered, since the chatbot was anything but helpful or human.


If you don’t know what an AI Agent is, you can get a quick rundown here. If you do know what an AI Agent is, you may still be wondering how it’s different from a chatbot. 


An AI Agent provides customer service across every text-based support channel, indistinguishable from a human.  With an AI Agent onboard, customers can receive quick and easy support no matter how they contact a brand. It can do voice too–check out our friends at RedRoute. 


Consumers demand accurate, personalized, high-quality support when they are in a pinch and chatbots just aren’t cut out for that type of work. Chatbots don’t retain information on individual customers, are incapable of deeply personalizing responses, and forces customers to repeat themselves if handed off to a live agent. 


An AI Agent, on the other hand, performs tasks. Just like a human agent, it takes action to fully resolve  over 50 types of service queries. If a human agent is required, the handoff is seamless and agents are automatically caught up to speed on the customer’s issue–customer repetition is eliminated. 


The Difference in Responses to Grubhub Customers Would Look Like This:


          Real-life GrubHub chatbot interaction from the 5/17 fiasco:    

                                                Bad bot example

AI Agent Scenario (Potential outcome):


Which customer experience would you rather deliver?


AI Agent understands and retains customer context to dynamically change responses according to customer sentiment, geography, LTV, contact history, and dozens more parameters. Interactions are tailored to each individual customer for truly personalized service experiences that chatbots are incapable of delivering.


Best of all, Thankful’s AI Agent is equipped with safeguards. These safeguards ensure there's an order from the customer within a certain number of hours of contact and that they aren’t getting access to several free lunches.


AI Agent features could have streamlined the customer experience for GrubHubers’ and drastically reduced customer wait times and time to first response. AI Agents have helped some of the top brands reduce TTFR by over 80% and resolve over 50% of tickets during peak times.  


So how will you provide great support alongside your next big promo? 🤔


Thankful offers a free custom service scorecard that gives you a visual representation of the impact AI can have on your team. It determines what percentage of your customer inquiries AI can engage on and resolve. Thankful does all the heavy lifting and there is zero commitment. Request yours here!




Additional Resources:

AI in Customer Service | AI Ecommerce Platform | AI Email Automation | Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service | Customer Service and Support Automation | Customer Service Platform | Customer Service and Automation | Ecommerce Customer Service Automation | Ecommerce Customer Service Outsourcing | Future of Customer Service

Crystal Romero | Director of Content

Share this article