When you think of fast food companies and customer service what comes to mind? Waiting on hold, trying to get a refund, or perhaps a disgruntled employee?
Well, for Kirk Alexander from Salem, Oregon, he will always think of customer service as the thing that saved his life.
Alexander lives happily in Salem, Oregon. For many years, he has been a loyal Domino's Pizza customer.
At least a few times a week he gets a pizza delivered. Always from the same location, always delivered to his same home address.
So, when the employees at the local Domino's that Alexander frequents noticed it had been awhile since he ordered, they began to get nervous. Alexander had been a regular customer since 2009, and building customer loyalty was important to this particular store.
After 11 days without a pizza order, the general manager had a feeling that something wasn't right about the pause in pizza orders. She sent out one of her delivery drivers to Alexander's home to check on him. And when the delivery driver arrived, they discovered that their long-time loyal customer was in trouble.
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When the driver knocked on the door, she immediately heard Alexander inside yelling for help. He was in bad shape and in need of urgent medical care. So, she called 911, and the paramedics came immediately.
Alexander is currently recovering at Salem hospital and is in fair condition. But there is a larger lesson to be learned here. Providing fantastic customer service is more important than you think it is. It sounds corny, but in this case, it's true. Your customers often trust you with much more than you think.
In this case, it was not just a pizza order. Alexander regularly spoke with delivery drivers at his home, and always tipped well. Alexander was trusting Domino's with his regular routine and his life.
You may not be able to save a life. But here are four key lessons you can learn from Domino's:
1. Provide Incredible Experiences
Every customer has an experience when they interact with your company. Some call this "customer experience" but I call it good business. If you value each of these interactions they can pay big dividends over time.
Rackspace, a cloud hosting website, has won numerous awards at every level for their fanatical customer service practices. Even though the company is now approaching 6,000 employees, they still value each and every time they get the chance to speak with a customer.
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2. Treat Customers Like Family
If you treat your customers like family they usually will treat you like family too. What would you do if a family member called you and asked you for help? You would probably drop everything to give them a hand. That's certainly not the case when you call most customer support numbers today. In fact, a recent study of Millennials showed that most young adults would rather go to the dentist than wait on hold for hours for telephone support.
Big companies like Amazon have got this one right. For the 9th consecutive year, customers have rated them #1 in consumer satisfaction. They provide quick service, make it easy to contact them online, and go above and beyond to ensure you are happy with each purpose. If you want to return something, you can do so without a lot of red tape or hassle.
3. Value Repeat Business
It is far cheaper to retain a current customer than it is to go out and get a new one. That's a fact. What seems to be up for debate is where employees should spend most of their time each day. While most companies pay customer retention lip service, they still devote the majority of their time to sales.
Instead, focus on reducing the number of customers that cancel. Do everything you can to monitor metrics like churn and build customer loyalty programs. In 2015, Domino's pizza launched a brand new customer loyalty program. Customers who buy enough pizza end up getting more of what they love. After just a few purchases you are eligible for big discounts and even free pizza.
4. Go the Extra Mile
In today's instant results world customers are expecting you to go above and beyond. And they are expecting it yesterday. That's why companies like Zappos have offered same day shipping for years and in some cases even same day returns on products you do not like.
While companies like Domino's are doubled down and going the extra mile, other chains like Pizza Hut are struggling with increased employee complaints and higher turnover rates.
Ultimately, Domino's did the right thing by prioritizing customer service and treating their customers like family. They were not obligated in any way to care for one of their customers like Kirk Alexander. But that did not stop them from looking out for his best interest. These are lessons we should all take away for our own businesses.
I think it's time we all made delightful experiences a part of your corporate culture. It might just make the difference between life and death.