Recenly, after a meeting with a prospective partner, I did what many of us in consulting must occasionally reesort to when drained of pop, I ordered in. And, at least in my area, that pretty much means A) Taiwanese food (not exceptionally done as Taiwanese food goes) or pizza. Naturally, I eventually got sick of the one Taiwanese alternative. So I order my guilty pizza and wait.
When the delivery guy shows up, invariably, he is suspicious looking. I don’t mean that he looks suspicious to me…he’s the delivery guy, I figure I know his basic story with regard to me as the customer. I mean I feel like I’m a suspect of some kind, or crazy, perhaps, for being the only guy in my neighborhood that orders pizza on a Monday night. So anyway, not a great feeling right there for the customer.
But here’s the thing: this outfit is known as the primo pizza brand in the fast pizza category. They’re the top, quality-wise as far as the actual food goes. To get better, you need a gourmet pizzeria, which I don’t have. But in terms of the delivery experience, they’re really at the very bottom of the pile. Because they already have such a market share, instead of building on that, they’re doing what so many brands do: burn their credit with the consumer but cutting corners (in this case, demanding unrealistic delivery times from their drivers and too many stops for someone who is not going to be doing this for over perhaps 3-6 months, until school starts back up).
So, again invariably, my delivery is missing something: my beverages, or my sides which I paid for. Often, the guy has no pen and asks me for one, and guess what I’m not likely to ever have: a pen. Yup. And then there is the matter of poorly cutting the thing. And while some will protest, it’s a pizza delivery, why do you expect good service? To that I say, these people are working a job in an economy where jobs are not in excess, and management is managing these people. I don’t blame the individuals. It’s clearly a management problem. That’s abundantly clear. And beyond that, it may be a regional management problem, and so on up the ladder. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that management is always somehow responsible for what’s happening, or missing from the equation altogether. There is no middle ground. Food service employees are managed and do what the guidelines specify. They’re not going to be doing this long enough to get great at it. That’s how it works.
So I’d like to just say their name out loud, but in a way that would be too much like calling them out and so I’ll just leave it at the obvious trail already left behind. They know who they are, and if they read blogs, they surely can appreciate the free feedback being given here from both a consumer, and a student of business and customer service (with more than several years of experience, minimum, in each of these areas).
Is there a moral to this story? I think it’s this: American businesses, please care about what you input into the processes that you are part of. In business, especially, if you are not part of the success of that business, you not only hurt yourself (and again here, this is mainly for management and others who set policy that others must follow), but you also hurt the company, and any future endevors you are part of, including your own family and other relationships.
A lot of outfits are disjointed in how they deliver their messages via social media, as well. Thinking that “this is all off the cuff, right?” spokesmen may be tempted to say at random what the organization’s position is, instead of thinking about the implications. One not-too-recent blog post I read described how a posh clothing designer uses headlines from the New York Times to spin off a promotional advertisement in the same paper, based on anything from revolutions to natural catastrophes, nothing is too macabre for a spin-off ad. In advertising, I think this may work for them because of their existing customer base is “callus” and “too rich to care about other people”. In social media, which now potentially includes newspaper articles like those of the New York Times, it’s kind of a really jerk move that is bound to go viral quickly, in a negative way. And while most brands delivered like drugs via social media are not like this designer example, similar fates await them in their positioning wars. It would be best to keep in mind that social media isn’t really “one-on-one” as Chris Brogan likes to say, it IS one-on-one-on-one…, and there is no billboard to hide behind anymore.