Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Customer Service
Letter to the Editor

Old-fashioned customer service


March 6, 2008
By Canadian Pizza

Topics

As we always enjoy reading the Canadian Pizza magazine, the article regarding security in the pizzeria caught our attention.

Old-fashioned customer service

As we always enjoy reading the Canadian Pizza magazine, the article regarding security in the pizzeria caught our attention.

We couldn’t agree more with the things said about the cameras installed. We currently have a digital security camera installed at our pizzeria for the same reasons the article was explaining: to observe the staff and our customers as well.

Advertisment

However, at Ital Pizza, we are not only old-fashioned in preparing our food – because we want the best taste – but we are also still using hand-written invoices rather than computer systems.

Since customers move in and out every two to three years and change phone numbers, we find the computer system sometimes to be useless, especially when the majority of customers like to change their orders on certain days and not necessary repeat the same order every week. Invoices have worked efficiently and accurately for us for the past 10 years.

We believe that business relations should be based on old-fashioned customer service, by knowing your
customers and their taste, especially when they are regular. Customer service has become very high tech and we feel that we are losing the touch of first contact basics, i.e. calling the customer by his/her first name, asking how they’re doing and what-not … to maintain and keep that customer’s relationship and trust with us.

Yes, once in a while you will have those who like to prank call or complain illegitimately about their pizza. That’s why we have established a policy since we took over: if a customer calls and complains about not having: the right pizza, a burnt pizza, wrong toppings, or whatever the nature of call is, we: analyze the complaint immediately, investigate where the problems lies, call the customer back immediately and tell them they were right about the order and we will send them another one right away.

But if we find discrepancies in the order based on the customer’s complaint, by investigating with our staff right there and then, we then call the customer and tell them that we do not think we made a mistake.

However, we will still make them a pizza as they wanted it to be and we will take the food they were complaining about back.

Throughout our experience, we have found out the honest customer would gladly return the wrong pizza and take the new one. Some would complain and want a new pizza, but want to keep the one they complained about.

Now that’s where we draw the line, and explain to the customer that we do not operate that way because we don’t get our food and supplies delivered to our pizzeria for free; after all, they are calling about a pizza they do not like to have, and yet they want to keep it?

Then what’s the complaint about? You either love or hate the pizza, so what do you want to keep.

We take the pizza back and match it with the invoice. If our staff made a mistake, then we document that and every month we keep track of who makes mistakes. We take the pizza that was wrong and throw it away. We do not make our staff pay for their mistakes, but they get three warnings and they’re out.

This policy has been very efficient and less expensive. We have not lost customers because of our policy, because we fix the problem right there and then. We’ve eliminated customer complaints, because we train and keep our staff for many years. They don’t come and go every month, and therefore the staff we have are well aware of what they’re doing and know our customers well.

We treat our staff with respect and fairness, so our business does not suffer and they don’t suffer.

In January, we had a customer complain the pizza she received was not what she had asked for.

Well, luckily, I took the order and remembered exactly what she asked for and I wrote it on the invoice. I’ve done this over 10 years and I know what I was doing.

I took her complaint seriously and said I would call back immediately after I checked the invoice and asked my staff. It turned out that not only were the toppings correct, but I remembered clearly what she wanted without reading the invoice. I called her to say that we would take the pizza back and send her the one she wanted. The customer explained that her kid ate the pizza and it was too late to take it back, but she still demanded another pizza for free.

I explained our policy and asked why would they eat the pizza – when she already has informed that the toppings were only wrong and they “hated” them.

That’s when I thought to myself, there are some discrepancies in the story.

I boldly told the customer that since they ate the pizza, there is no complaint. She was shocked, especially since she was obviously used to grabbing free pizza from other places when she complained.

In return she asked for her money back in full. I told her she would get a refund when the pizza and the rest of the food was all returned, just like when you go to Wal-Mart and return an item. We sent our driver to her house and gave her the refund. Upon inspecting the pizzas, we found that both pizzas were made exactly the way she wanted them, and not even a slice was taken. Yet, she claimed her daughter already ate it.

You scratch your head and wonder why would some customers like to falsely complain.

Customers like this are not worth keeping if they bring loss to your business instead of profit.

Why should we go out of our way to buy sophisticated computers and voice recorders? By using a policy of old fashioned customer service and human contact not only have we kept our good customers, but we hardly get complaints because of the way we stand by our food and staff.
 
Tony and Monti Hannona
Owners and operators