On Saturday I wanted a pizza. I’d been out to watch Watford play at Vicarage Road for the first time in about five years, had had a couple of pints on the way back, and couldn’t be bothered to cook. I’m not a habitual take-away food consumer, but once in a while…
I downloaded the Dominos Pizza app to my phone, picked a pizza, tapped in my credit card details and waited. The App proudly proclaimed that it would keep me informed as to the progress of the creation and delivery of my dinner. Wonderful – slovenly eating habits now reinforced with real-time production data.
After about 20 minutes the meal’s status progressed from Baking to Quality Control. Dinner was surely now approaching. When it’s status remained on “Quality Control” for over 20 minutes I took to Twitter (I had, as already noted, had had a couple of pints). My usual level of dry sarcasm reserved for speaking to corporate entities on social networks, I asked whether one of their definitions of “quality” was “cold”.
Now to be fair to Dominos, they tweeted back within minutes, apologising and asking whether I had phoned the local branch. Interesting, the App makes it very difficult to find the telephone number of the branch that you have just ordered from, but a couple more tweets and they’d sent me the phone number. At the same point the status on the app switched to “Out for Delivery”.
When the status then switched to “Delivered”, without any sign of the pizza, I phoned them up. “It’ll be with you in five minutes” I was told. About 10 minutes later it eventually arrived, 1 hour 25 minutes after ordering, and at best tepid.
“Would you like us to put you in touch with the regional manager?” asked the Dominos UK twitter account. And that’s when I received the (anonymous) customer service email address for the local franchise holder.
The experience made me think a few things. First of all, and most importantly, eating cold pizza at 9.30 in the evening is a recipe for a bad night’s sleep, no matter how good an idea it might seem at the time.
Secondly, that providing information to customers is a risky business if that information is obviously rubbish. But once you go down the slippery slope of providing information, expectations are raised and there’s no going back. Remember if you will the days before any real data on train station platforms. We were OK with having little or no information – it was what we expected. Compare that to how frustrating it feels today when the train indicator boards are playing up…
Finally, that digital customer interaction for franchise businesses is a real challenge. My relationship through the App is with Dominos, not the local fast food franchise company who I’ve never heard of. Being passed off by the people I think I have a business relationship with feels like real buck-passing. Much more so than in the days when I would have had a more direct (telephone) communication with the branch itself. Yet another example of how digital channels expose the inner workings of organisations in ways never really seen before.