For years, we have patronized the same pizza place here in Newport. From the first time we vacationed here, to the time when we became regular weekend visitors, to last summer, when we moved here full time, everytime we wanted a pizza, we called Pizza Hollywood. It is decent pizza, priced fairly, and it was typically delivered hot within half an hour, by a friendly delivery person.
But recently, a customer service experience, or anti-service experience, has caused us to cross Pizza Hollywood off of our list. We had been out of town all day. We got home, and we were tired and hungry. We didn’t feel like cooking, and we didn’t feel like going out to a restaurant. It was 8:30 at night, and we just wanted some quick food, maybe watch a movie on TV, and go to bed. So we called our friends at Pizza Hollywood. Pretty decent order, too. Couple of small pizzas with multiple toppings, a 2 liter Coke, and even a pint of ice cream. (OK, so it wasn’t a health food meal – we’ll discuss that in another entry, all right?)
We figured that by 9:00, we’d be eating dinner.
We were wrong.
9:00 came and went. At 9:15, we made the first call, and were told that our order had left the shop and should be arriving “soon.” At 10:00, we made the second call. This is when we were told that they only had one driver going into Newport that night (it was a Saturday night!), that he had to stop at a function at a local restaurant (what, the restaurant had to outsource food?), and another function at Fort Adams Park. We were told that IF the delivery guy got to us, he would “probably be a little late.”
Oh, perfect. By this time, it was a little late to be calling another pizza delivery shop. The experience had sort of robbed us of our appetite, anyway. But now we were cranky, tired, and still hungry. And the pizza guy never came. And we never got a call back from Pizza Hollywood.
OK, so the Dennises did not get their pizza. Not the end of the world, right? Right. But, from a business standpoint, what was the effect of this gaffe for Pizza Hollywood? Let’s get out the calculator. We health-conscious Dennises order pizza on average about once per week – maybe that’s a high estimate, so let’s be conservative and say once every other week. Between food and tip, let’s say we spent $15.00 per call. Let’s say we called them 25 times per year. So that comes to $375.00 per year. We’ve lived here for eight years, so let’s say we’ve already spent $3000.00 with them. If we continued living here another 10 years, that would be another $3750.00… with price increases, let’s call it another four grand.
So, had Pizza Hollywood decided that one deliveryman delivering pizzas to a restaurant and a function at a national park may not have time to drop off a couple of pies to the Dennis household, then it would have been big of them to say, “I’m terribly sorry, but we can’t handle your order in the normal timeframe that you are accustomed to, and we would recommed that you seek other options for your pizza this evening, and hope that in the future, you will try us again. In fact, we would like to give you a free pizza when you call us again.”
Or, knowing that one delivery guy had his hands full with his other deliveries, maybe another driver could have been recruited to make some deliveries. Maybe one of the cooks wouldn’t have minded making an extra few bucks by making a delivery. Or, heaven forbid, maybe the manager himself could have made the trip himself – now there’s a concept! I mean, Newport is not that big a town. You can get from one end to the other within 10-15 minutes. What would it have taken, in terms of extra effort, to fill our order? And to hang onto $4000 worth of business? A ten minute drive.
It boggles our minds that service-oriented businesses that depend on repeat customers for their well-being could be so cavalier about ignoring the wishes of their regular customers. Think about your business. Think about situations where you haven’t been able to service your customers in the manner that they have come to expect. Chances are good that they are not going to call you and give you a second chance. If you are very fortunate, and take the initiative to call and apologize, and provide them with the product or service they desired, at no cost, then maybe, just maybe, you can salvage the relationship. But don’t bet on it. Better to provide the service right the first time. It’s worth the ten minute drive.
— Chuck Dennis