Improve your social customer service, by all means, but improve your operations first

First Things First
Just before Christmas a friend of mine tweeted me the following:

One for your blog @adrianswinscoe how not to manage a facebot page https://t.co/2bE3MYpIeO

On investigating the link, I found that a person by the name of Tamlin Magee had sent Domino’s Pizza the following message:

hello domino’s pizza. i was thinking about eating your pizza the other day and felt immensely ill, i think it must have been something i thought of at domino’s, because i hadn’t thought about any other food all day.

please ensure high psychic cleanliness levels of all staff & ensure all signs in domino’s bathrooms, toilets, and thought purification zones remind staff to wash their brains upon thinking

Domino’s then replied:

Hi Tamlin, please send an email to comments@dominos.co.uk and a member of head office can take a look into this for you.

You can check out the actual post here.

This is a classic example of a ‘cut and paste’ or automated response, when it comes to social customer service, and one that could, potentially, do more harm than good.

I mean, according to Domino’s Pizza’s facebook page they have ‘913,468 likes · 4,009 talking about this · 32,133 were here’, so imagine what Domino’s Pizza’s customers made of this response if they saw it?

Doesn’t set a good impression, right?

Now, the post was obviously made by some ‘wag’ and there will always be people that will try and make fun of you whatever what you do. But, in the social age that we live in, the most important thing is how we respond to queries, questions and complaints, and how consistent we are in our style and approach, that matters.

On further investigation, I found out that Domino’s uses humour in their facebook posts but, generally, only on their marketing based posts.

So, what happened with this response? Did they just have a temporary ‘sense of humour failure’? Or, is it that the team that handles customer service has a different ‘rule book’, policy manual and set of guidelines than the team that handles the marketing posts?

Either way, this type of inconsistency could project a confusing picture to the customer.

However, the problems for Domino’s doesn’t end there.

Many of their customers are posting complaints onto their facebook page (visible only when viewing via a laptop or desktop computer) and, many, are supporting their claims with pictures of poorly prepared food or errors with deliveries.

The fact of the matter is that images have a bigger and longer lasting impact than anything text based and could damage Domino’s reputation with it’s fans and customers.

So, what should they do?

Well, I could suggest closer collaboration between the marketing and customer service teams or for them to re-look at their social customer service policy guidelines. But, Domino’s situation is further complicated by the fact that it is a distributed retail operation. This means that quality can vary from branch to branch.

That means that a specific complaint about a particular branch could have an impact on the overall brand as well as the local brands of each branch, regardless of how good they are.

Therefore, my advice to Domino’s Pizza, if you want to improve your brand and customer service, whether on social media or not, I’d suggest working on improving the consistency of food quality, operations and delivery first. After that, everything else will take care of itself.

What would you suggest they do?
Photo Credit: romeroleo via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Adrian,

    Too many times, companies try to boil the ocean when they should just start with a simple pot of water. I ended a recent blog post (about omnichannel experiences) with a similar message: get the basics right, then focus on the big stuff.

    Annette :-)

    • adrianswinscoe says:

      Hi Annette,
      I agree and disagree with your comment. I completely agree that getting the basics right is fundamental but I think that we also need to pay attention to the little things too. After all, ten, twenty, thirty little things after a while start to add up. But, having read your post, I’m pretty sure you’d agree with the above. Right?

      Adrian

  2. Hi Adrian,
    Good piece of sleuthing. I would draw a different conclusion from Annette. Product quality across a franchise is ‘big stuff’. It a tougher to control and in an age of social media and dumb response tactics, the story spreads very fast. Could even affect earnings if its endemic.
    My take has always been. Social customer service and effective continuous improvement must be joined at the hip and owned at leadership level. Listen and learn. Or more dramatically, adapt or die!

    • adrianswinscoe says:

      Cheers Martin,
      Whilst Domino’s is a franchise operation, I would suggest that directly owned and operated businesses in the same space face similar challenges. However, that said, your point about social customer service and continuous improvement being joined at the hip and owned at leadership level is a good one and one, I hope, watching businesses take to heart.

      Adrian

  3. Adrian, I don’t think there is anything new here. Companies should always make sure that they do what they said they were going to do and that has always been the case.

    I simply think that social media simply magnifies the bad and the good

    • adrianswinscoe says:

      Hi James,
      Thanks for that. You are right that there is nothing new here. I guess what I was trying to show was that it’s better to treat the cause and not just the symptom. Not new, I know. But, nevertheless, a message worth repeating.

      Adrian

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