Want pizza delivery? Get frustrated instead..

We decided to treat the kids the other night for tea and given we’d recently received  a flyer through the letter box for 50% off online orders from Dominoes, the deal was done for pizza. Given I was just having a glass of wine we thought we’d opt to get the pizzas delivered. Dominos_pizza_logo.svg

When you go on their website, the first thing you do is enter your postcode and the site then locates your nearest outlet. There’s 4 steps to the order process which is what you would typically expect;

  1. Place your order
  2. Checkout
  3. Your details
  4. Payment

So the kids chose their pizzas including some bespoke creations and we added some garlic bread. I got all the way to step 3 when I noticed something at the bottom of the screen – no delivery option available to select and a message saying ‘Ahh you live too far away for us to deliver. So pop in to collect.’ What?? ‘But I can’t collect’ I shouted at my laptop along with a number of other expletives. Well that was it then. Pizza from Dominos was cancelled. I was frustrated and the kids disappointed and it could have been such a different outcome.

If I hadn’t had a glass of wine, chances are I might have collected the food but the outlet is about a 15 minute drive into the center of town so they would have been fairly cold by the time I’d got them back. Ok the order wasn’t huge – just under £30 but it’s now very unlikely that I’ll use Dominos again especially as they don’t deliver. In a beautiful twist of irony, it was Dominos that many years ago came up with the ‘customer lifetime value’ approach!

The biggest frustration was seeming to encounter a step of the process that was in the wrong place. At the time I thought ‘why not check delivery availability right at the front end when I put my postcode in?’

In fact, in fairness to Dominos website they did as I’ve checked it again since.

On the second page it does actually say ‘collection only’ in the top right hand corner in red and I’d missed it. In part due to the fact that I looked at the left hand side where the opening hours are and a piece of text that says ‘The Store or delivery driver may call the number you provide to confirm your address’ which only added to the confusion. In the rational cold light of day, I can see that now and maybe the glass of wine I had at the time was larger than I realised! pizza_delivery

The story had a happy ending anyway, for the kids at least who got their pizza, just not from Dominos.

And the lessons?

  1. Make things absolutely crystal clear for customers who might not see what you want them too.
  2. Get someone to have a glass of wine when they beta test your website. You might get a different perspective on things!



Ignore social media at your peril..

There’s a local hotel not far from where I live which is a favourite venue for business meetings given it’s only about 60 seconds from a motorway junction. It’s a fairly large hotel which is part of a group of 5. This hotel also has a gym and a pool, conference facilities etc. as you would expect. I’ve used it a number of times and the lounge/bar service has always been ok – nothing great but not poor. Average you could say.

After a recent meeting at the hotel and following a conversation with a business colleague, I thought out of interest (and for the basis of a potential conversation with the General Manager) I’d see what the reviews were like on Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor logo

As a social media site, I’ve only had a fleeting relationship with Trip Advisor. I’ve never used it to plan a trip but I know friends who have and who also link it to their Facebook pages to post trips and reviews of hotels, restaurants or places in general. There’s even a Facebook ‘Friends’ tab on the site which for me showed 199 friends that have visited 6 continents, 80 countries and 1179 cities!

I found the hotel in question and initially, the stats looked ok. 306 ratings in total distributed below;

Trip advisor graph








However when you group the percentages as a subset of the total, the data is much less flattering;

Excellent 88 29%
Very good 88 29%
Average 67 22%
Poor 37 12%
Terrible 26 8%
306 100%


58% of ratings were positive – very good or excellent.  42% though were not positive – average or below.

That’s nearly 1 out of every two guests that leave less than satisfied probably never to return. In addition, the hotel ranked 10th out of 12 local hotels and overall had a rating of 61%. The first place hotel has an overall rating of 97% based on 277 reviews.

The reviews themselves made for interesting reading. Two recent reviews had the titles ‘Like the gunfight at the OK Corral’ and ‘Never again’ and another was titled “If Ryanair had hotels than it would be the XXXX” In fairness there were also positive comments around the hotel as a wedding venue and “Very good and very helpful and friendly staff” by a number of reviewers. However by human nature we’re negatively biased and you can’t but help being drawn to some of the less than ‘rave’ reviews.

There were also another couple of observations I made. Firstly the General Manager had replied to some of the reviews, both negative and positive but only some.

Secondly, reviewers had indicated that they had complained in person whilst at the hotel and had either little or no response. One reviewer had even waited two weeks before posting their review to give the hotel a chance to respond. For whatever reason the hotel hadn’t and so the review was posted which as you can imagine wasn’t great.

Some of the hotel’s responses included actions taken to remedy issues including refunds to guests that were over charged but most were along the lines of “I would like to apologise for any mis-understanding. Rest assured this matter will be looked into and relevant training put into place to ensure this does not happen again.”

A sincere apology should always be standard in response to a complaint and an action already taken is always more credible than the promise of something in the future. Call me a cynic but reading between the lines this says, ‘we don’t know or understand what went wrong, and so we won’t fix anything or do anything different!’

Apart from the obvious customer experience clangers here about inconsistent service delivery, not addressing all customer feedback good or otherwise and not responding to customer complaints there are wider and more serious implications for the hotel through customers’ use of social media and the hotel’s lack of brand management.

Clearly the hotel is engaging with social media. They monitor Trip Advisor and have a Facebook page which is fairly active with over 1600 ‘likes and over 8000 page visits. They also have an active twitter account with over 4,300 followers. They’re definitely socially active, but from Trip Advisor alone, it could be argued that they’re not proactively managing social media very well. That inevitably leads to brand and reputational damage unless corrected and that brings financial loss with it.

Let’s revisit the earlier stat of ‘nearly 1 in 2 customers leaves less than satisfied’ and let’s project some more numbers;

Average hotel room £70

Half of 306 reviewers don’t return = 153

Lost room revenue = £10,710

153 people tell at least 3 others (a very conservative figure) =459

Potential additional lost revenue = £32,130

Running total £42,840

Loss of bar and food sales – say £20 per head per person

(153×20) + (459x£20) = £12,240

Running total £55,080

That’s another 786 room bookings needed at £70 per room to make back all the above losses which I’m assuming could have been avoided in the first place or at least managed better either at the hotel or on Trip Advisor. This doesn’t take into account guests who stayed at the hotel who didn’t leave a review or complain.

So as a takeaway for the 153 guests who were less than satisfied and who we’ve assumed won’t return and have told at least 3 others not to stay at the hotel, those 153 guests have cost the hotel £360 each in lost revenue! That’s probably around 5 times greater than the revenue they actually generate in the first place.

This hotel has a massive opportunity both in correcting its customer experience and managing its online presence smarter. It’s estimated that it takes 10 positive experiences to redress 1 negative experience and if it was me, I’d be over that 1 negative experience or review like a rash immediately.

So if you’re a business and your deciding whether to ‘dabble’ with social media or not, then my advice would be to jump in with both feet. You might not ‘get it’ or ‘understand it’ immediately but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening and to avoid damage to your brand, your reputation and all your hard work, you need to be a part of it. Chances are customers are already talking about you somewhere online right now. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of that?