Customer Experience Failure – Boston Pizza Style

I have always been a champion for the customer, which is why I look at the customer experience first when I help business leaders to transform their businesses to become more profitable.

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People can power profit — or they can destroy it. And sadly — more often than necessary — they make decisions to destroy it.

Tonight is a case in point.

I have taken my first day off in ages. It’s a glorious, hot, sunny Sunday here in Courtenay, BC. It’s also a long weekend. And here’s where Boston Pizza comes into the picture.

It’s 6pm and I’m well into the “relaxation mode” I had planned for, so I went online to place an order for delivery. I’d been building myself up to have my absolute favourite dish — the Chilpotle Chicken Salad — for a few hours. I ordered 2 of them for delivery.

2 Seconds after I ordered online I got a call – which is normal and appreciated. However, this time the message was “I see you chose debit at the door as your payment”. I said “No, it’s credit, which is what I chose. There was only an option for cash or credit payment at the door.”

I was then told that they could not deliver to me because the machines for accepting payments at the door were broken. If I have cash it’s fine.

Okay… think about this for a second as it’s a classic Customer Experience Fail.

#1. I was able to place my order online. Why can’t I pay online? (my guess is that it will require extra administration on behalf of Boston Pizza — guess what? I don’t care!) The customer experience is what matters across all touch points in the customer journey. So figure out the logistics behind the scene and don’t make any decision a burden for your customers.

#2. Why are the machines broken? Every single one of them? On a long weekend? On a hot and sunny long weekend?

and most importantly…

#3. Why didn’t the gal say “I’m really sorry but we’re experiencing problems with our machines for payment at the door. Can you give me your credit card number and I’ll punch it into my machine here? Then you can sign when we deliver your meal.”

or failing all of the above, as a back-up measure…

#4. Have one of those old fashioned machines with the “cha-ching, cha-ching” that takes an imprint of the credit card and you sign it? I travelled to Mexico a few months ago and they still use them there. My credit card was charged just fine too.

So, before I go off to spend 10 minutes making a salad — I’ll share these parting words:

The majority of customers will not return after a poor customer experience. Often it only takes one poor experience to lose a customer.

Many people (myself included) will happily share customer experience fails online via social media, review sites and blog posts.

Boston Pizza — and every other business — needs to start thinking about the customer experience as the only true differentiation between itself and the myriad of other choices in each market.

Customer Experience is in every decision.” ~ Carol Wain

3From the decisions at head office — those who made a website that allows you to order but not pay — to those in the field who don’t think about how they can make a work-around to ensure their customers have an awesome experience, it’s time to rethink what you are doing.

  1. Think about how your decisions impact your customers and ask before implementing.
  2. Have designated staff to be the Voice of the Customer and ensure those people have a seat at the Executive Table. Ideally, all employees should be encouraged to watch and listen for customer reaction and are invited to share what they learn.
  3. Train your employees to ensure your customers’ experience is as expected. Of course you have procedures and systems but there are times when employees should be permitted discretion to go outside of them.
  4. Have a back-up plan
  5. Ensure your customer journey is consistent across all touch points

 

Update:  August 11, 2014  — Here’s what has happened since my initial experience.

After I wrote this post and shared it on LinkedIn I went to Boston Pizza’s Facebook Page and posted there.

I applaud the community manager for responding and suggesting we take the conversation offline (which I teach!)

I wrote a very long email with suggestions and counter-arguments to some of the “policies”.

I was assured that someone would be in touch shortly.

I received a phone call from the restaurant owner, Gary, who was on vacation at the time.  He left his cell phone# for me to call.

I called back a day or two later and we had a conversation about the experience.

I explained my Customer Experience passion and that I can’t help but speak up when things are going badly.

He spoke for a while to explain the problem (again, as the customer, I really don’t care that TD Bank had screwed up so none of the machines were working).

I was sitting there ever so silently wondering if he was going to ever get to “me” rather than an explanation about why I experienced what I did.

I also wondered when he would accept ownership (or if anyone would).

I wondered what — if any — offer would be made to “make it up to me”.

I was waiting and waiting…

And then Gary said “I would like to offer you gift certificates to make it up to you”.

He also suggested I may be able to help them improve the customer experience (oh hell yes, I can!)

I was not angry — I came from a place of  “sharing and caring” while I also wanted a resolve.

I explained how most people wouldn’t give a second chance and how important customer experience was.  We chatted a bit about my services and we ended the call.

Fast forward to today — exactly one week to the day I attempted one more time.

What a nightmare!

Today, I placed my order online.

I received a call a few min later to confirm the order.

I corrected the delivery time — I didn’t want it in 50 min, I wanted delivery at 6:30.

So at 6:35 the delivery person arrived (oooh… he smelled badly… not good in the food service industry … although he was pleasant enough as a delivery person.)

This time the order was for one Chilpotle Chicken Salad and one personal cheese pizza….

…………Except the “chicken and bacon” part of the order was missing…………

You’ve got to be kidding me!  The Customer Experience is actually worse this time!

6:38   I called the restaurant and explained what happened.  I received an apology and a promise the chicken would be delivered soon.  I pressed to find out what “soon” meant.   I was told 15 – 20 min depending on traffic.

6:39  I emailed the email address Gary gave me when I spoke to him

7:15   I called the restaurant again and apparently the driver was there and he’d be leaving with my chicken right away.  I asked to speak to the owner.  Gary is still on vacation.  I asked to speak to the supervisor.  I explained today’s situation and last week’s situation and I had spoken to Gary.  She attempted to correct me that perhaps I spoke to “Steven”.  I said “no, I contacted Head Office and Gary gave me his cell phone #.”  She seemed surprised.

I’ll cut to the learning points:

  • I discovered during this call — this is a common occurrence — the onus is on the host/hostess to ensure the order is complete but they don’t.  Why is the problem common?  and…. Why on earth do they share this?
  • The supervisor does not have the authority to authorize a refund — this time I’m expecting one — tomorrow she’ll talk to the office manager to see what can be done.
  • The delivery guy showed up with my new salad and he said words to the effect that he only delivers what he’s given.
  • It is now 1 hour after I asked for my salad to be delivered… 45 min after I was promised the chicken would be delivered.
  • I’m actually surprised I haven’t “Lost it” by this point — maybe because I knew I’d be using this as an example in my teaching for years to come 😉

Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!

You’ve got to be kidding me…  Remember, the customer doesn’t give a sh*t about excuses and who isn’t doing what.  The customer expects to experience the brand promise and to receive what they bought in a timely manner with the quality promised.

Boston Pizza desperately needs a Customer Experience overhaul — I’m here and I’ll consult with corporate and franchisees.  I’ll also train staff.

Consistency is missing — as is a focus on the Customer Experience — instead, the culture appears to be one of “pass the buck”.

In the restaurant business, this combination is a death sentence… perhaps my first best-selling book Guerrilla Tourism Marketing might be useful as the first step!

What Suggestions Do You Have for Businesses That Have Challenges Like This?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

About the Author

Carol Wain is the founder and leader of many brands which help leaders to create more profitable businesses that transform lives and positively impact our planet. She is an author, speaker, trusted advisor and mentor who won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003.

Carol is passionate about reinventing business to become a force for good — positive businesses which respect, appreciate, encourage and support the right employees who voluntarily use their discretionary effort to bring the vision, purpose, platform, personality, passion and core values to life; businesses which create useful, meaningful and valuable products, services and experiences which improve the lives of people; and businesses which support communities, take a stand and have a higher purpose.

For more information visit CarolWain.com, EnlightenedCapitalist.org, and WorldIncentiveNetwork.com