Yext for Food Case Study

Yext Helps Caribou Coffee Optimize Every Digital Customer Experience

Using Yext, the coffee chain is able to quickly monitor and respond to customer reviews — making sure every cup feels special, even in challenging times.

Using Yext, the coffee chain is able to quickly monitor and respond to customer reviews — making sure every cup feels special, even in challenging times.

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new customer reviews

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average star rating

To know Caribou Coffee is to love it. And if you're someone who needs a hot cup of coffee to get going in the morning — or a caffeine "BOUsted" sparkling drink to keep your momentum going around 3 pm — then Caribou has something perfect to satisfy your craving.

While many of the brand's locations are in the Midwest, it continues to expand, taking its playful brand of premium coffee — all of which are small-batch, craft roasted in-house — to markets around the world. They are also available across the U.S. in most grocery and retail stores.

"We are absolutely obsessed with the quality of the beans, from the moment that the farmer picks it to the moment that it makes it to Minnesota, where we roast it," says Eric Caron, Senior Director of Information Technology at Caribou Coffee. "We carry a wide variety of everything, from the coffee of the day, to Nitro, to a bunch of kid-friendly drinks and smoothies. Everything is clean label, so there are ingredients you can pronounce and no additives or preservatives."

But before working with Yext, getting the word out about new products and new stores was an uphill battle for Caron and his team. The brand had no streamlined system in place to make sure the online information about its stores (like product offerings and hours of operation) was up to date and accurate across search experiences. Because most coffee lovers were becoming Caribou customers by performing unbranded searches to find out where they could get a latte or a quick breakfast nearby, Caron knew the company needed a way to show up with detailed and consistent information everywhere customers were asking those questions.

"When I started, our location data was all over the place. We were opening probably 50 to 100 new stores a year, and there were situations where we would tell everybody, 'Hey, come to the new Caribou,' and you'd open it in Google Maps, but Google Maps would send you to a completely wrong area," Caron explains. "Customers were unhappy. Stores were unhappy. Then IT took on the responsibility of weekly spot-checking stores to make sure that the addresses that we showed on our internal planning matched what was showing on our location page and on Google."

Now, with Yext's Knowledge Network — which brings together approximately 175 digital services globally, including Google, Amazon Alexa, Apple, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo, and TripAdvisor — Caribou has a centralized way to quickly update the important details about its more than 500 locations.

Beyond managing store hours and addresses, Caribou uses Yext to publish updates about new menu items, like when it launched cold-pressed Nitro to just 10 stores at a time.

"Yext lets us make fast decisions about what products we offer and where, and have confidence that it's going to be executed cleanly," Caron explains. "With the Nitro launch, we were able to give people a link that said, 'Hey, if you want to find a Nitro location near you, click here.' Then customers saw the pins on the map. That gave marketing a faster model for when we were launching, for example, donuts or extra large coffee in test markets. Yext has given us a quick way to talk about the product and the store at the same time."

Eric Caron Headshot
“Yext lets us make fast decisions about what products we offer and where, and have confidence that it's going to be executed cleanly.”

Eric Caron

Senior Director of Information Technology

Caribou Coffee makes its coffee-loving customers feel heard.

Using Yext to monitor customer reviews has super-charged Caribou's customer service.

"Before Yext, our attention was exclusively devoted to the in-store experience — reading and reacting to online customer sentiment took more time than anyone could spare," says Caron. "Now our teams pay a lot more attention. We can catch misunderstandings and address problems quickly. We'll talk to the customer if there's an issue, make it right with them, and teach our team members a better way to handle things next time. It's a win for everybody."

"Yext lets us capture reviews and lets us get involved and make sure that we can defuse situations whenever possible," Caron continues. "Yext is a beautiful compliment to all of our social media platforms. It makes our lives so much easier knowing this is our one central source."

This focus on customer communication became uniquely important when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. Uncertainty, fear, and constantly changing guidelines created a perfect storm of confusion and potential frustrations during an emotionally heightened moment.

"We thought the polar vortex of 2019 was pretty chaotic, in terms of our hours changing a lot," says Caron. "With COVID, we could have store hours changing multiple times a day for dozens of stores. But thanks to Yext, we're always up to date. That really reduces how often our customer service team hears phone calls from frustrated customers."

The Caribou team also took advantage of a new Google Health filter that businesses could use to indicate that employees must wear masks and receive regular temperature checks and that customers are also expected to wear masks.

Eric Caron Headshot
“Yext lets us capture reviews and lets us get involved and make sure that we can defuse situations whenever possible. We’ll talk to the customer if there’s an issue, make it right with them, and teach our team member a better way to handle things next time. It's a win for everybody.”

Eric Caron

Senior Director of Information Technology

All told, Yext has saved the company countless hours of work power while providing invaluable peace of mind.

Caron estimates that working with Yext has shaved six months off the development time for Caribou's Order Ahead capabilities, and has allowed its employees to stay focused on what matters most — the coffee.

By monitoring and quickly responding to customer reviews, Caribou Coffee has maintained a stellar star rating.

Since partnering with Yext in November 2017, Caribou's locations have garnered more than 142,000 new reviews from seven websites. Yext's review monitoring capabilities allowed for easy and seamless management of client feedback, helping Caribou maintain an average 4.15-star rating throughout this period.

During the pandemic, Caribou utilized new reviews to analyze client feedback and implement protocol adjustments rapidly and effectively. These updates enabled the business to maintain its average star rating throughout the pandemic.

"Now, we're getting to the point where making updates is so simple that we take it for granted," Caron says. "My strategic IT philosophy is about flexibility and trusting our team members. Now they're empowered to make those changes without a lot of bureaucracy. People can just do their work and get back to what's important. We should just be making coffee — touching computers is just a side effect of it."

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