Pizza with a Promise: Delivery Not Always Included

C. Laughren    June 10, 2015




Organization: Pizza Pizza

Industry: Food Services

Web references:, Facebook, Twitter,,

Loyalty lost

One March evening, Christine C., a resident of Kitchener, Ontario, decided to order pizza for her family. She chose Pizza Pizza, a favourite pizza place, during their free movie deal promotion. It was a win-win for her family with pizza that night and a movie plaPP_moviedealimage2nned for the next day. Plus, the restaurant’s convenient online tool meant she could order from the park and have the pizza arrive when she got home with her children. Easy, convenient, and reliable – or so she thought. The pizza was delivered in a folded-over mess and there was no movie pass in the bag. Rather than trust her issue with another online tool, Christine decided to call to speak with someone.

Here is what happened:


From Christine’s first point of contact to a resolution, she endured a 32 minute phone call, one post to Facebook, two emails, another 10 minute phone call, and finally a movie pass sent in the mail 14 days later. Pizza Pizza broke a lot of promises to Christine. The worst was their personal assurances to “drive over right away with the movie pass”. This repeat customer was let down in a big way, and with no attempt at a resolution or follow-up.

Not every upset customer will go to the lengths Christine did. Nor should they. Some customers simply go straight to Facebook to vent their frustration, like these recent Pizza Pizza customer posts:


This is becoming a more typical behaviour when a customer has a connection to the brand/company. It’s not a bad thing. It’s an opportunity to respond and strengthen that customer’s relationship to the company. Unfortunately, the responses are not happening as quickly as customers expect. According to a recent Hootsuite blog:

“Customers perceive social media to be a means of getting great customer service, and they have high expectations. However, the reality is starkly different. Only 36% of consumers that make customer service inquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.”

Looking at this more closely:

  • 52% of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes of their social media contact;
  • 24 hours was the average Facebook response time of the top 100 U.S. retailers, while 11 hours and 15 minutes was the average Twitter response time of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

Creating fast expectations

Fast food restaurants, in particular, can become their own worst enemy. Customers are conditioned for a “fast” experience. With so many options to choose from – burgers, pizza, chicken wings, coffee houses, etc. – a customer’s choice is often made based on their past experience. So when a customer chooses a restaurant like Pizza Pizza, that restaurant has to deliver on its promise of a quality product/service and overall experience. If not, customers are seven times more likely to post a negative experience on social media than a positive one (according to a recent survey by the Chief Marketing Officers Club).

Given that it’s almost 10 times more expensive to acquire new customers versus selling to existing customers, fast food restaurants, and other companies for that matter, need to look more closely at the opportunities social media provides for customer engagement. While 86 per cent of companies are comfortable marketing with social tools, only 41 per cent use social tools for communicating with customers. Many organizations use social media for marketing, but not for personalized communication. So how social is social media, really, if there is no dialogue with customers?

PizzaPizza is one of Canada’s top pizza restaurant chains with more than 30 million orders annually and a network of 600 locations. One look at their online presence (“Call, Click, Connect”) shows they’re doing many things right in marketing their products to the public: charity support; healthy food options; sports team sponsorship; community presence; a “fan zone”; and so on.


Facebook Album Photos

PizzaPizza is also reacting quickly to online contest trends (e.g. #ShareTheMoment) and technology changes like mobile apps, most recently for the Apple watch:


This exposure seems to be working. Their Facebook page has 215,698 likes and counting. And their Twitter shows 16,800 followers. All this social activity translates into a lot of opportunity for a popular fast food restaurant – BUT they are missing something, or someone, very important. What happened to”‘the customer is king”?Lecture slide_CMB FB&Twitter_snipped

There are ‘fast’ benefits to providing a positive engagement with customers – increased likelihood to buy from that company again; positive opinion of that company; and a much higher likelihood of recommending that company to others.

So, what’s taking companies so long to respond to customers?

Lessons for others

Transparency is key for companies using social media. It shows an open willingness to be accountable for their product and/or service. If a company has created colourful, catchy social media channels, then they must make the investment to provide mechanisms for two-way customer dialogue. Listen to what is being said – the good and the bad – then, respond in a timely, relevant way. This means:

  • Having resources dedicated to responding to social media channels, in addition to other communication channels, at all the times.
  • Ensuring a company’s internal processes are aligned to deliver on their brand promise with clear steps to resolution and follow-up.
  • Respecting one important law of social media marketing, the Law of Acknowledgement: “You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online”.

Being social with customers means knowing how to be a ‘social listener’, too. And that should be a promise any company can deliver.


Submitted by: C. Laughren, University of Waterloo

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