Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's more than a Pizza

I read this and was AMAZED at how it all turned out... From Art Sobczak:

A Mishandled $8000 Pizza Order Call

I'm a self-taught cook, and probably own as many
cookbooks as sales books. I watch the Food
Network every chance I get. For a few years my
barbecue cooking team traveled all over to competitions,
and we even won a few championships. It's tough
to order at many restaurants, since I sometimes
struggle to find something I couldn't make better

However, there's still nothing better for my palate
than a great slice of pizza. I particularly like
thin crust, New York style. Could eat it every
day. Normally I don't go more than a few days
without a pizza-fix.

When I'm in Omaha I'm a bit limited in my choices
of places to get exceptional pizza. Last Sunday I
was lusting for a slice and wanted to try something
different, so I went online and was reminded of a
place just a few blocks from my suburban neighborhood.
I had tried it a couple of years ago, was not
impressed, so they fell off my radar.

However, I read some of the recent favorable reviews
and thought I'd give them another shot. After all, right
down the street...if they've improved, this could
become a spot I'd be dropping lots of cash in the

So I called, intending to order a pie. After about
eight rings, the out-of-breath voice answered--
with chaos in the background--and greeted me with,
"Can you hold?"

(I'm intentionally leaving out the name of the
place--she did say it when she answered.)

Reluctantly, I agreed.

She did NOT put me on hold.
She just put the phone down.

So now I'm hearing the banter of the kitchen
staff, and occasionally her voice. One minute

I'm getting restless.

Two minutes, I'm annoyed.

Watching the clock on the computer screen tick
away, three minutes. Now I'm pissed. The kitchen
staff continues whooping it up.

Trying to put it all in perspective and remind
myself that in the whole scheme of things this
is not worth getting upset about, I decide to
give them one more minute. Sure, I could have
hung up and called back, but the devilish side
of me wanted to see just how long this customer
service train wreck would continue. Plus, I thought
I had the makings of a weekly tip.

And I really didn't feel like driving any
further than a few blocks to get pizza.

At the five-minute mark, I FINALLY hear someone
pick up the phone, and...hang it up. "Call Ended"
flashes on my cell phone.

At that moment I decide to provide the owner
with some unsolicited phone sales training.

While I was simmering, waiting, I was online,
reading about the history of the joint, and
about the owner who had come here from
Chicago a few years ago. I remembered seeing
him the last time I was there, working the counter
and the kitchen. Chances are he was there and
I was going to tell him about my experience.

Certainly as an astute business owner he would
welcome feedback and offer to make things right.

I called back.

Busy signal. Hit redial. Busy signal again.
Undoubtedly someone else was told to
hold, but then forgotten about.

THREE more times I tried back, hearing the busy
signal each time.

Finally I heard a ringing sound. A male answered,
and said "This is____," giving his name. It was
the owner.

I said, "Yes, I called there about 10 minutes ago.
I was going to get a pizza from you. I was asked
to hold, was forgotten about for exactly FIVE minutes,
and then was hung up on. I wanted you to know this
personally since you might be losing customers
because of how calls are handled."

"Sorry about that," he said in a tone that
contradicted his words.

That was it. No attempt to recover. Nothing like,
"Wow, that certainly is not the way we do things,
let me make it up to you..."

"Sorry?", I repeated, after he was silent for a few
seconds, giving him a chance to say more.

"Yeah, sorry, he repeated with an attitude that I
read as, "Look, I'm busy here."

I remained silent--and a bit stunned--for a few seconds,
thinking he might come to his senses as a business
owner and do the right thing.


I was not an a-hole about this by any means, but I
finally matter-of-factly said, "Well, you just lost a sale
and more importantly, a customer."

That, I thought, might cause him to realize he could
still fix this. Instead, I heard, "Sorry to hear that."

He was one of the sorriest guys I've ever heard.

So I found another place, a few miles from my house,
that answered on the first ring, did not put me on
hold, repeated back my order, made an upsell suggestion
for a salad, which I took advantage of, and told me
precisely when my order would be ready. THEY will
be getting a lot more of my money in the future.

Now, you might be thinking that from the first pizza
joint's perspective, so what, big deal, they lost a
sale, under $20 in revenue.


A number of years ago a marketing exec with Dominos
spoke right before me at a national sales meeting. He
talked about the value of a customer, something
many people do not keep at the forefront of their
mind. He said their research indicated that a
customer would spend--I don't remember the exact
number, but this is close--in the neighborhood of
$8000 with Dominos in their lifetime.

They would emphasize that to their employees who
answered the phone, and anyone who had contact with
customers. It wasn't a one-pizza transaction, you
were talking to an $8,000 customer.

One of my business mentors, Dan Kennedy, stresses
the importance of "future bank" vs. "present bank."
Future bank is what your customer means to you over
their lifetime, and yours. That's why smart
marketers often take a loss in acquiring a customer,
knowing that the real profit is in keeping them
over time.

Let's try to stitch this back together to some
relevance for you: What do YOU do to ensure that
you make it easy for people to become customers?

Are there any deterrents that make it difficult
for people to become saying,
"Can you hold?", when someone WANTS to buy
from you, now?

Do you know your own "future bank" number?
If not, figure it out, and be sure EVERYONE
who has customer contact knows it.

What are you doing so that when your competition
calls your customers--and you know they will--
your customers say, "I'm happy with who I'm
buying from."

By the way, I didn't reveal this pizza place's
name, since perhaps it was an isolated incident,
and I don't want to trash them. And I might just
give them another shot at some point. I guess I
like pizza too much and almost kind of expect
bad, or even rude service from pizza places.


"Adversity is an experience, not a final act."
Michael LeBoeuf

"Like" Art on Facebook and get a Free Ebook!
So Facebook has changed their Fan terminology to "Like."
I don't "like" it, but it's their playground and we're part of it.
Anyway, go to my Page, hit the "Like" button at the top
and I will even bribe you to do so. On the left at that page
you'll see the link to get your free ebook of 501 Sales Tips
You Can Use Right now.

Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

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