Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Waiter! There’s a fly in my soup! Lessons on finding a steel-wire in a takeaway Pizza

We have all heard “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup” jokes many times, but hardly ever stopped to think: what would I do if I really had a fly in my soup? Well, I had to reflect on this since it wasn’t a fly, but a piece of steel wire in my takeaway Pizza that I was enjoying with my wife and five year old.

First things first, my experience is probably an exception to the norm. Finding a harmful/strange object in a takeaway food, especially from a large chain is certainly not the norm.
Here is a gist of my experience and interactions with Pizza Hut (PH): I ordered a large pizza online, and picked it up at the local PH on the way back from work. My wife, son and I begin enjoying an early dinner and midway through, I feel a strange, crunchy object in my mouth. I took it out and was surprised to find a steel wire, about 3/4th of an inch. With this, our dinner came to an abrupt end, and I begin wondering what I should do.
  1. Drive down to the PH location with the object, and confront the store manager?
  2. Call the customer service number? Or
  3. Take a picture on my smartphone and tweet a complaint?
I went for option C.) and tweeted a complaint with pictures to @PizzaHutCares @pizzahut along with  hashtags #complaint #UPSET! #Pizzahut (link to tweet)
@PizzaHutCares responded, directing me an online webpage (link) where I could send details to customer care, which I did.  The next day, I got a call and email from Billy, the local GM
“We do apologize for the recent incident you had at Pizza Hut, please call rgm. Billy Mcgill for a full refund on your product and if you keep the object bring to the location so we can see where it may have came from. Again we want to apologize for the trouble that this has caused you and will try to make it right with you,
Questions please call (xxx)yyy-2800 and speak with the general manager”
After talking to Billy, I stopped by PH location with the rest of un-eaten Pizza and steel wire, and refused a refund that the store manager offered. I explained that I wanted the metal object investigated. And if they would inform me how this issue would be prevented in future. The next day, Billy emailed me:
“Hello I have looked at the object you sent me and I've been with Pizza Hut for over 20 years and have never seen this type of material used in store or equipment, again we apologize for this issue and will double check all items before sent out to customers so this doesn't happen again. Again for your issue we have added a credit to your account to replace your order on your next visit if you choose to give us another chance.”
The interaction with Billy and PH’s customer service left me with a gnawing feeling. They acknowledged that there was an issue, but didn’t explain how it would be fixed. For instance, I continue to wonder if (and how) the Pizza Hut branch that I went to has cleaned their kitchen? Are there other consumers who might end up getting a steel wire and may accidentally ingest it? I also wonder if I should be calling the local city/county health inspector to have the location inspected.
Wearing my Enterprise Architect hat, I also began reflecting on Pizza Hut’s “customer complaint” process
  • There is a “process” in place for customers to complain, as most retailers do
  • The process includes “social media” tools like twitter, emails and websites
    • A tweet to @PizzaHutCares generally gets a response directing the customer to send details of complaint to an online webpage
    • After entering details on the complaint webpage, one receives an email with “Incident number”
    • The incident is forwarded to the manager at the branch/franchise location
    • The manager calls the customer
  • After this, the process seems to be broken:
    • After the initial “social media” response, the action or resolution is transparent to the customer.  
    • Feedback to the consumer is absent after the initial contact. For instance, I continue to wonder if (and how) the Pizza Hut branch that I went to has cleaned their kitchen?
 Before you jump up and suggest what every blue blooded American could/should do in this situation - sue them - here what I found googling on this topic, I found that I am not alone, and neither is Pizza Hut the only culprit in town. (link: What can I do if I found a metal object in my pizza that I had delivered from Papa Johns?)
In this instance, my family (and Pizza Hut) were probably lucky: I didn't ingest that metal wire. Therefore, it is probably not worth the time/effort to pursue this further! So, what is the consumer in me going to do:
  • Blog about my experience (here it is!)
  • Am I going to go back to that PizzaHut location anytime soon? Probably not (PH lost one customer. Big deal, you might argue)
  • Continue to wonder if there a large scale, systemic problem with PizzaHut? Probably not. Else, we would be seeing a large action in social media
Bottomline: Mark this as just another case of poor customer experience (caveat emptor). Life is too short. Move on.

(Reposted from LinkedIn Pulse)

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