An Exasperating Experience With A Pizza

On a recent trip to breakfast with my family, I was reminded of a particularly frustrating experience I had at the pizza place next door.  Allow me to rewind a bit.  A new pizza place opened up in our area and to drum up business they were littering our mailbox with 50% off coupons.  Seeing a great deal, I called and ordered a pizza.  When I placed my order, I told the person on the phone that I had a coupon and she gave me a total price based on that coupon.

When it came time to pick up the pizza, I took my 2-year-old son with me but left the coupon sitting on the kitchen counter.  I told the cashier I had forgotten the coupon and she took a hardline stance with me, saying I would have to pay full price.  No amount of pleading or arguing changed her mind.

I went home angry and frustrated that evening, swearing to never eat there again and talking about how this was the worst pizza ever.  It’s rare that I ask to speak with a manager but later that evening, I called and told the manager what I had experienced.  He was very apologetic and told me they would give me a free pizza on my next visit.

There is a simple lesson here that I have written about many times.  Your frontline staff needs to be thoroughly empowered to prevent situations like this in the first place.  I’m sure you have experienced on many occasions shopping at a store and the cashier had a stack of their current coupons sitting at their register.  Whether you were aware of them or not, they scanned them to make sure you didn’t miss out on a good deal.  I have always appreciated stores like Costco and my local VONS for doing that.

While I appreciated the gesture of receiving a free pizza, I’ll bet you can guess the last time I visited that pizza place.  You got it.  The last time was three years ago to cash in on my free pizza.

I am reading the book “Outside In” by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine and in the opening chapters they talk about how we are in the “Age of the customer.”  The point is that in this current business climate, we can ill afford to exasperate our customers.  Creating customer-friendly policies and empowering front-line employees is a must.  If companies exasperate their customers over something like a silly pizza coupon, there are millions of other pizza places in their area that will gladly take their business.

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