Should DoorDash make all workers do deliveries?

Discussion
Photo: DoorDash
Dec 28, 2021

DoorDash will bring back a program requiring all employees, including the CEO, to once a month perform deliveries or other duties not normally part of their jobs. Some staffers are apparently unhappy about it.

DoorDash had the WeDash program, which required employees to make deliveries once a month, in place since the company’s founding but suspended it due to the pandemic. Money raised from employee deliveries went to charity.

DoorDash wrote in a 2018 press release, “Since DoorDash launched four and a half years ago, employees have ‘dashed’ each month in an effort to keep employees connected to the experience of Customers, Dashers, and Restaurant Partners.”

Management is restarting the WeDash program in January, adding WeSupport, which lets employees shadow customer-service workers, and eventually the WeMerchant program tied to merchant activities. A spokesperson told CBS Marketwatch the changes add options for employees unable to do deliveries.

On Blind, an app that lets employees post anonymously, a thread, “DoorDash making engineers deliver food,” has drawn over 1,500 comments, including a few negative ones.

One said, “I didn’t sign up for this, there was nothing in the offer letter/job description about this.” Another stated, “Difference is ‘employees have dashed’ vs ‘employees have to dash.’”

However, the majority of comments were favorable. Echoing the sentiments of many, one said, “Seems like a good way to understand the client’s pains.”

In the software developer space, dogfooding has become a popular term for using one’s own products or services.

At retail, requiring executives and other corporate staff to work selling floors, customer service departments or fulfillment centers may seem like an inefficient use of their time. Many retail CEOs, however, have talked up their commitment to “walking the store” and talking to associates and customers to get a better read on any shopper experience shortcomings.

In his recently-published book, “Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos,” Amazon’s founder said he has long made his email address public, jeff@amazon.com, to field customer feedback and complaints. Mr. Bezos wrote, “I treat every problem that I hear about from a customer as an opportunity to improve.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more pros or cons in requiring corporate staffers to work selling floors, customer service departments or fulfillment centers? Is “walking the store” or reviewing online complaints a more feasible option for executives as well as other corporate staff?

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17 Comments on "Should DoorDash make all workers do deliveries?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

This is an old idea, but it’s a very good one. There is no better way to understand your service than to actually experience it first-hand. Any executive or corporate team member who resists this type of activity is missing important insights that will provide powerful context and appreciation for what the customer experience actually is like. I applaud DoorDash and every other business who makes this type of engagement part of their operating model.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

I love the idea! What better way to understand what your customers are experiencing. When I started at Burke doing controlled store test design and analytics, I had to go out to help set stores on a couple of tests so I could see what it was like. When I started at Nielsen we did field work to see what it was like to collect retail data (by invoices in those days). These were great learning experiences that helped me do my job better.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

This is an excellent idea. For a company to be truly customer-focused, every employee has to understand how the company interacts with customers and how customers respond to these interactions. Nothing beats putting people in front of customers. Many companies require executives to spend time (sometimes one to two hours a month) on the front line with customer support. This is no different, other than it includes all employees, not just executives. It sends a powerful message to employees, especially those who are typically behind the scenes, about the company’s commitment to customers.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Replacing ivory towers with empathy seems like a winning strategy to me…

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

This is a really important practice to protect. Executives are often too far from the customer experience to understand its shortcomings or to be proactive in discovering them. The frequency could perhaps be lessened to every other month or every quarter, but observing the business first-hand is crucial. Similarly, engaging in these types of activities among competitors is also key in determining how to keep up and innovate beyond industry standards.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I love it. Working at the front line is how I learned so much in my retail career. You should never forget where you came from and what you can learn from customer and employee interactions. Great to see it is still being done.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

Periodically experiencing all of the customer facing aspects of your company’s business is the absolute best way to add value to both your job and your career. DoorDash is right to incentivize their staff to immerse themselves in the customer facing experience that is the source of their revenue – and everyone’s salary. I used to work for Dollar General corporate, where all employees were encouraged to work in stores, especially over the holidays. It gave me an immediate customer eye view of the business, and critical awareness of the needs of the shopper and that front line employees are the MVPs of the retail business. The knowledge I gain from walking stores, speaking with employees across every department, hearing first hand that the shopper hates when price tags aren’t visible — has been critical in helping me to help the companies I work with.

Jenn McMillen
BrainTrust

When I was in retail, I had my employees work a day in our stores every quarter to remind them where our money was made, and I tied it to their bonus. The best ideas for improvements came after a day in the field when they lived “a day in the life.”

David Spear
BrainTrust

DoorDash’s CEO should be applauded for re-instituting this policy. There is no better way of feeling the pulse of the business than by doing the jobs that make the company run. There is so much to learn, so much to see, and so much to improve by understanding the basic fundamentals of how a business operates. Those individuals who are crying foul for having to roll up their sleeves and work might want to reexamine their profession. Many years ago I worked for UPS and they had a similar policy during the holiday crush season, where management joined a driver to deliver packages. I loved it!

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

A time-honored retail tradition and one I think we need. That’s how you learn “all about retail.”

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Shep says it all, “For a company to be truly customer-focused, every employee has to understand how the company interacts with customers and how customers respond to these interactions.”

I don’t think once a month or even once a quarter is necessary. More than that I would like to see them spend an entire week once a year.

I am glad Jeff Bezos reads emails. He is correct that they highlight opportunities. But I would sure like to see him work in a warehouse for an entire week. That experience may be more valuable than any other decision he may make. And the value of seeing the leadership get their hands dirty, join the workers for lunch or stop by the bar afterwards is invaluable.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Lots of companies require employees from CEOs to warehouse personnel to work in frontline positions throughout the year. It’s the only way to truly understand your what frontline employees go through daily, and it’s a good way to check the state of customer service and how the company is perceived. Working the frontlines is a practice every business should adopt.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This is a great idea, and has been for a very long time. I was a department store buyer and merchandise manager many years ago and “branching” was mandatory, for everybody, every Wednesday. If you were at you desk on a Wednesday, there better be a damned good reason. MBWA — Management By Walking Around — was coined by Tom Peters back in the ’80s. It would be easy to get seduced by all the tech and digital solutions available today, but there is still no substitute for human interaction in understanding inefficiencies and missed opportunities. It’s more than sifting through the data, however comprehensive the data may be. Eli Goldratt wrote about bottlenecks and constraints in the “Theory of Constraints” many years ago. Observing and experiencing constraints in real life is more meaningful than digesting raw data.

RandyDandy
Guest
7 months 11 days ago
Pardon the grammar, but this is never NOT a great idea. I say that especially as one who has consistently worked front-line in a public-facing, customer-service capacity. I know all too well that higher-ups need to know what it’s like — before they send out more missives about what needs to be done. Because surely most have no idea what it is like on the ground. However I do not believe all behind-the-scenes employees need to “walk the walk.” Those who work in a go-between way don’t have the same responsibility (say, blame) for passing on often inane and unaware rules. As the saying goes: they are just doing what they’re told. So I say it is only those “bigger fish” that need to “jump in the water.” And I mean the deep end. None of this “walking the floor” nonsense, surrounded by their underlings, asking questions of associates (as though suddenly the king or queen has deigned them, the understaff, as suddenly worthy of consideration) or of the few lucky patrons who happen by.… Read more »
Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Yes, and while it’s hard to argue about direct customer experience, in this case there are 3 points of learning to be taken advantage of. The restaurant/store as a customer, the end consumer, (where direct interaction is pretty minimal), but as importantly the life of a front line worker, which in the case of DoorDash might be the biggest learning experience of them all.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Well everyone but finance. 🙂 Seriously…uhhm, more seriously I would say the “Devil is in the details.” This is one of those ideas that sounds great — to some, at least — but once implementation begins problems begin; for example, let your clerical and sales staff hit the road and your Worker’s Comp rates will skyrocket (“oh they only do that occasionally”…too bad).

Siloing is not a good thing, and it’s nice for everyone to have an appreciation of everyone else’s job(s). But the number who should actually perform those jobs — or try to — is small: CEOs? Sure. Mangers? Probably. A/P clerks? Not so much.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

Making your employees experience the customer’s side of the story can be a great way to improve your products and services. However, it must begin with clear communication of the goal of such activities. Employees will not be motivated to participate in these projects if they are FORCED to do so. However, if they believe in the concept and are willing to participate, the exercise can provide an advantage over the competition. Employees must believe in the effectiveness of knowing your customers’ pain points, or else it will be a pointless exercise.

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"A time-honored retail tradition and one I think we need."
"Replacing ivory towers with empathy seems like a winning strategy to me…"
"I love it. Working at the front line is how I learned so much in my retail career."

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