Angry customer (have to read this to believe it)

A customer shows up quite angry at our shop complaining that his pizza was a complete mess, that all the ingredients where shuffled and that there was cheese smeared in the box.

We happen to know this is true. But we ignored him. Why ?

He ordered that pizza a couple of days ago. It was raining and he was walking. We offered him a plastic bag so he could cover his pizza box. Instead, he puts the box in the bag in a vertical position and starts walking. Our employees react to watching a pizza going vertical and tell the customer. He looks a little bit embarrased but proudly corrects his mistake by leveling the pizza… upside down! An employee tells him of his mistake and he just nods, walks away and then flips the pizza again, now to the correct position.

A couple of days later he shows up quite angry at our shop…

When I have an ‘angry’ customer in my store I remember these words:

Behind anger is hurt.

As funny and crazy as your story is I’d like you to think of the situation from his viewpoint. It’s raining out and this guy had just walked through it to get to your store. He orders a pizza. It’s probably a treat for him and his family. Since he’s walking in the rain I’d guess he doesn’t have a car or a ton of money. He gets his pizza and heads back out into the rain proudly with his pizza. Absent-mindedly he turns the pie vertical effectively ruining his pizza. Your employees tell him what he’s done and is embarrased. Then he turns it upsidedown providing the death-blow to his pizza.

I can’t imagine his level of frustration, embarrasment, anger and hurt as he walked down the road with his(or his familys) special night out treat in ruines.

As crazy as you might think this sounds, I’d laugh it off (say something like, “Yeah, I saw that you had turn the box over. Believe me, I’ve done that so many times myself.”) Then I’d make him a new pie and not charge him. Then as I give him the pizza I’d remind him to keep that pizza nice and level. What you’ve done here is three things.

  1. Made him feel better about his mistake.
  2. Made yourself seem like you’re a good guy.
  3. Ensured he wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
  4. Created a customer for life.

See, I feel you on this one. It makes zero sense.

THIS is what separates the cream from the whey, guys. If this is the first time you have had an issue with him, and you think he has ANY chance of being appreciative, you can score bazillions of hero points. He will talk about you for months if you give him a pizza replacement. Tell him that you remember that rainy day, how flustered he was and how you really hated for him to miss out on a good pizza.

It costs you maybe $3 or $4 investment in doing something that NO OTHER place in your area may do. Sure, it could be a rip-off deal that never comes to anything, but if he really was flustered and having a lousy day . . . and you give him a replacement, you could have made a friend and loyal customer for life . . . and he tells to friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on . . .

This is what we talk about in our shop as a defining moment where we have to decide between exceptional customer service commitment and “being right”. We miss a lot of these, and pass intentionally on more than we should for fear of being scammed. When we hit one, though, we get a huge benefit in the smile and warm feeling . . . then the friends and family calling us to order.

td,

thanks for your answer.

I agree with your take on those situations. We try to act in a similar way, but just couldn’t turn it around. It seems he just needed to vent off his anger and then he just left. (Remember, this happened days after he ordered the pizza and even then he was so embarrassed that he left before we could act.

We have “won” some clients by paying for their “mistakes” as if they were our own or going the extra mile. But sadly we could not do that in this case.

One of my drivers who I inherited when I took over the shop tells about his first night when it was raining very heavily.

He rolls up at the house and the rain is torrential so he thinks he will help the customer out by holding the bag (with pizza in box inside) vertical under his arm and out of the rain.

Customer tips him $5. Gets back to the store to hear the customer has gone balistic about allthe toppings sliding off the pizza to the corner of the box.

Takes replacement one back and explains to customer who then laughs at it and tips the driver another $5.

Dave

I too agree that we go the extra mile I would have said please wit we will make a you a free one and my driver will drive you home…

Yah I’ve had a few like him. Though the situation could have been avoided altogether if your employees had been trained to respond at the time they saw it happening, they could have jumped in and fixed the pizza with a new one. Training a staff ot be proactive is hard and time consuming but pays off in aces down the road.

B

Hello Eduardo,I agree w/ these folks up to a point.Always try to fix a small problem like that w/ a quick re-make and a sorry.But when a customer becomes an idiot and down talks your employees or yourself then its time to throw the bastard out.Speaking for myself here I definitely don’t need customers like that!I thank God every day that we have excellent pizza and business because I have no patience for customers that think everyone owes them something.I guess its my Italian bloodline. :twisted:
Niccademo

Don’t sometimes feel like being the “soup nazi” from Seinfield.

Order nicely and stay in a single file or “NO PIZZA FOR YOU !!!” :twisted:

Dave

Re: Soup Nazi…

I was bundling a free pack of brownies w/a 18" pie…

We baked the brownies in 1/2 sheet pans, cooled & cut them and put them in an 8" box…

For the first week or so, we were cutting the brownies & putting 12 in each 8" box, filling up the box…

The 2nd week, we began cutting the brownies a bit bigger & putting 9 brownies in the same 8" box, filling it up just as much as the 12 did…

Some people commented, we said same box, just bigger brownies…

One lady called - er, screamed she got shorted brownies - last week she got 12, this week she got only 9 (remember, these are Free brownies)…

We explained the difference over the phone, but she came up 2 the store, dragging 2 crying/screaming toddlers (Friday 7 p.m.) & dumped the free brownies outside on the sidewalk (after being aske 2 step outside)…

Needless 2 say, she never ordered again…

Funny, I often would like to say that to some on the customers that come in. Like the guy who said “you should change your name to Arm and a Leg Pizza” a ha ben back 4 times. He still complains about the price.

Tell him if you did charge an arm and a leg, he’d have never been able to order a third time :).