In the past few weeks, Instacart usage and demand has surged dramatically, with order volume up more than 300% year over year in the first week of April, according to Mark Killick, VP of the Instacart Care organization, the grocery delivery service’s customer service arm. San Francisco-based Instacart also grew its shopper community to more than 350,000 active shoppers, up from 200,000 two weeks ago.
“As a result of this growth and influx of new customers across the marketplace, we’ve also seen an unprecedented spike in support volume across all of our Instacart Care facilities,” Killick wrote in a blog post. “As customer demand has increased, we’ve also worked quickly to better support our teams. In mid-March, we moved to a work-from-home model for all Instacart Care agents in the wake of COVID-19. We made this transition over a weekend, and I’m proud of the fact that we never had to pause Care operations as we made this move.”
To better meet the demands of its rapidly accelerating business, Instacart Care plans to “quickly” hire and train more workers. At the start of March, it had 1,200 Care agents. In the past two weeks, it has more than doubled its team to 3,000 agents and has hired and signed an additional 15,000 agents. By May, Instacart aims to have 18,000 Care members actively supporting its customers, shoppers and partners.
“In addition to our broad hiring efforts, we’re working alongside a number of companies—spanning industries including hospitality, travel, retail and more—to bring on experienced support agents whose previous positions have been impacted by the economic downturn,” said Killick. “We’re working fast to train each of these new agents to ensure we can best support every member of the Instacart community.”
As part of its ongoing efforts to rapidly scale the team and meet demand, Instacart is temporarily moving all Care communications to chat. Chat is available across all desktop and mobile devices.
In the past few weeks, Instacart has launched new features designed to remove friction, including Leave at My Door delivery; contactless alcohol delivery; automatic cancellation for out-of-stock orders; in-app incident reporting for shoppers; in-app order issue review for shoppers; ratings forgiveness for shoppers; easy cancel batches for shoppers; and mobile checkout for shoppers.
This week, Instacart is rolling out a new “Missing Order” feature that will allow customers to make an in-app report and automatic refund request for the rare instance that an order is delivered to the wrong address or doesn’t arrive.
“Serving our customers is what drives our team and organization,” wrote Killick. “We have much more work to do to improve our customer and shopper care in terms of speed and efficiency, but I’m proud of how quickly our teams are moving to make this better for our entire community.”