A Party Ruined by Domino’s

2010-05-16 19.34.45Merry Christmas! This is one of the times of the year when people are busy with shopping and parties. It’s one of the time of the year when customer service becomes extremely important. It’s a time to see which companies are committed to customer satisfaction, and which others are not. Under pressure from sales volume, time, manpower and other constraints, it becomes clear which companies care about their customers, and which others don’t.

My complaint today is about Domino’s, because of the Christmas-eve lunch party they ruined. It’s not the first time a F&B catering business has failed me. There was another case many years back, but since the matter has been resolved, I shall not name them or bring up the matter again.

I’ll consider myself a frequent customer of Domino’s. Most of the time, they are not on-time. I’m not complaining, because they’re typically only just 2 to 3 minutes late, and they very graciously offer a free pizza coupon.

The situation yesterday, however, is starkly different. It’s not my first festive-time order, but this one is really different. It was a party for 30 pax. So in anticipation of peak orders, I placed my order in advance, on Monday 23th December. It was a full 24 hours before the scheduled delivery on the 24th at 11:45am.

At 11:45am, I called the hotline to make sure they have my order and that everything was alright. I was assured that my order was on the way, and that the driver was almost reaching my place. Okay, that’s good, I thought. I had planned for a little delay, and I only really needed to start at 12 noon. Sadly, that was not the case. I called again, and another one more time, signalling my impatience and that I wanted someone to tell me definitively just exactly where this driver is.

So I eventually got a call from the store manager, from the branch handling my pizza, at about 12:08pm. He didn’t seem to know anything more than the hotline customer representative. I gave my order details again, and was told the same thing that the delivery guy is reaching my place. Okay, so by now it is very obvious that they are just giving me canned answers. I pointed out that at 11:45am, I was told the same thing. How long does it take to drive from his store to my office? The store manager himself said within 20 minutes. So I pointed out, if the delivery guy had truly left the store at 11:45am, he would already have reached my office before this call! Alright, he’ll find out what’s happened with my delivery and promised to get back to me.

Ten minutes later, he hadn’t. By now, I had the store’s phone number, so I called the store manager. The “reaching soon” answer isn’t going to cut it anymore. I told him, very clearly, I wanted to know precisely where the driver is. Please, call the driver, get his exact location, and to call me back right away. I have a party waiting. I need to know.

Another ten minutes, no call. Again, I called back. Again, I got a “reaching soon” answer. Had the store manager called the driver? No. So he didn’t have any better information than “reaching soon”, which is exactly what I already heard since 11:45am. It was about 12:30pm by then! That’s 45 minutes late! Clearly the store manager just couldn’t be bothered. It’s just a simple task. Find out where his driver is. Isn’t that something that all store managers needed to do? Keep track of their delivery people? It seems this fellow just completely incapable, or this is a reflection of Domino’s complete disinterest in customer satisfaction.

I must stress that, by then, I had spoken with someone or other at Domino’s some 6 times already. After 6 calls, I could not get a status better than “reaching soon”, the same as I got from the first call.

Sensing my anger, the store manager this time volunteered to call the driver and get back to me “now”. This time the “now” emphasis is spoken from his mouth, not mine. Sure, go ahead do that.

Meanwhile, I was preparing to announce the cancellation of the lunch, with great regret and embarrassment. I decided that, if I don’t get a call back by the time I finished composing my email announcing the cancelation, then it shall be canceled.

What do think happened? No call by the time I finished composing the email. I clicked the “send” button, and the party was cancelled. I called Domino’s hotline at 12:34am, to inform that my order be cancelled. I think the customer representative was shocked and didn’t know what to say. Done. Very upset. But done.

Oh no, it wasn’t quite done. Finally, at 12:45pm, the delivery driver called to say he had arrived. It was Christmas-eve, half-day at work, and everyone was eager to have lunch and go off. By 12:45pm, most people had already left.

I told the delivery guy, that I had already cancelled the order ten minutes earlier. Obviously, even this message could not be passed along.

Less than a minute later, he called me again, and said that my pizza order would be free, compliments of Domino’s because of the lateness, could I come get it. Huh? Should I be appeased with free pizzas? What am I supposed to do with the pizzas? There weren’t many people left in office. People were hungry and had left for their own lunch.

I felt insulted. Domino’s, you should know that the lunch was ruined. Free pizzas isn’t going to cut it. It’s more insulting left with $200 worth of pizzas that the couple of people left can’t finish.

I’m a reasonable person. I can appreciate that things screw up from time to time. Furthermore, this is Christmas-eve, and understandably the order volume must be tremendous. If you cannot handle the volume, then decline some of them. Some customers are going to be disappointed not being able to put in an order, but this is a whole lot better than sending the pizzas one hour late.

Yes, I know Domino’s already has an order volume cap. Perhaps they were too ambitious. That number must need to be tuned downward somewhat

In the F&B catering business, timeliness is very important. Food needs to be delivered on time. It is very embarrassing for the host if food arrives late, or not at all (i.e. so late that one has to cancel the party). Domino’s is in the fast food delivery business, which is not the same as a caterer. But given their apparent commitment to 30 minute guaranteed deliveries, surely timeliness must be of the essence too. Clearly Domino’s has demonstrated that they don’t really care at all.

The crux of the matter is really about customer management. Customers need and want an honest update on their order. Please, don’t give canned responses. Stalling tactics may work in some industries, but this is not one of them. Put yourself in the host’s shoes. You have a room full of hungry guests. Do you tell them, please wait, we will be starting very soon, and repeat that every few minutes for one hour?

Despite failing to meet their scheduled delivery time by a huge margin, no one at Domino’s had the good sense to escalate the matter and treat it with an appropriate level of urgency. No one seems interested to actually take positive action to resolve the matter. The least they could do was to call me back with an accurate and honest status update.

Instead, I get excuses and canned answers. At my final call to the hotline to cancel my order, they could still ask if I’ve not received my pizza. At some point, the store manager gave some excuse about them having many orders to handle that day. I ordered the prior day. Given that mine’s a big order too, surely they should have given some priority to ensure that order was delivered on time.

After a totally failed service delivery, no one at Domino’s has the good sense to follow-up with an appropriate course of action. Surely the customer representative at the hotline, the store manager, and the delivery driver, must have known this was totally disastrous. No one cares to escalate the matter?

One of the key service proposition of Domino’s is their 30 minute guaranteed delivery. This is what makes them different from other pizza companies. It is disappointing that they could not keep this promise. What makes Domino’s better than other pizza companies then?

It’s one thing to fail the timeliness commitment, but totally and utterly a failure to screwup customer management.

I hope Domino’s doesn’t screw up other Christmas parties today. Merry Xmas!

3 Responses to A Party Ruined by Domino’s

  1. Exact experience. 45mins late for delivery despite ordering on advance notice (2days before) for department event. Moreover deliveryman don bother to check out venue via GPS. Jus keep saying he doesnt know how to get to my venue.

  2. Pingback: Customer Service Saga | Zit Seng's Superwall

  3. Pingback: Domino’s Pizza’s Punctuality | Zit Seng's Blog

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