Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hey, Laaaaady!

Image courtesy of eda.c
What is a touchpoint? And why am I asking that now?

Well, you know by now that I tend to have a story or a situation almost every week that inspires me to write a blog post. Today is no different.

So, back to my question: What is a touchpoint? There are many different ways that people define it, but in a nutshell, it is a place or point that a customer touches, or interacts, with your brand; those interactions can be in-your-face obvious or they can be those little things that may be less obvious or not as visible. And that is what brings me to today's inspiration. I'll start with the story.

Friday night is pizza night with my boys. Last Friday, after their taekwondo class, the boys wanted to go to the Domino's store next to the dojang to order a pizza. We walked in and placed our order. The cashier handed me the receipt, let me know the pizza would be ready in 12 minutes, and went back into the kitchen. The boys asked if they would call my name when the pizza was ready, and I said, "No. He didn't ask for my name." I brushed it off because we were the only ones in the store, but the thought didn't escape me that he did have the opportunity to ask me my name (or, at the very least, see it on my credit card).

When the pizza was ready, another employee walked out and handed us the pizza, and we were on our way. I didn't think about that interaction again until later that evening. I don't know why, but it occurred to me that I should look at the receipt to see what he put on it in place of my name, if anything at all. I pulled the receipt out of my purse, and here's what it said:

"Lady." I had visions of Jerry Lewis saying, “Laaaaady!” running through my head.

Well, I guess it could've been worse. (Remember CVS, Radio Shack, Papa John's, and others?) But, guess what? This simple piece of paper is also a touchpoint. They had an opportunity - a moment in time, a brief second, one question - to personalize the experience a bit. To make a connection, if you will, through this touchpoint. Actually, I don't even want to call it a personalization. I want to call it a human touch.

Contrast that with another experience.

Sunday is bagel morning with my boys. Yea, I love our traditions. And so do the boys! Bagel mornings are always at Einstein Bros. Bagels. I'll have to write in detail about Einstein Bros. another time, but it was a totally different interaction. The experience there is consistently great. After they take my order, rather than giving me an order number, they ask for my name. (I'm not a number! I'm a person!) And when my order is ready, they call my name for pick-up - and many times, like they did this past Sunday, they bring the order to my table for me. They don't have to do that. They just do. Here's what the their receipt looks like:

No doubt in my mind whose order this is! Or about who cares about their customers.

Domino's has a lot to learn. But the good news is that there's a simple fix here, really. That one simple fix can make all the difference in this situation. Train your employees to ask their customers for their names - and then address them by their names. I would call this common sense, but I'm reminded daily that common sense is not so common. So this particular piece of the process needs to be trained.

Isn't the human touch much better than being a number or a "Hey Laaaady!"

It starts with respect. If you respect the customer as a human being, and truly honor their right to be treated fairly and honestly, everything else is much easier. -Doug Smith

One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising. -Jim Rohn


  1. WOW...I'm thinking about the number of times I've been in similar situations and listed on a receipt as 101, 43, 16, or 3, and I somehow think I must be special if I get a low number. This can't be that hard to accomplish, but it amazes me that so many businesses just don't care make a touchpoint personal. We have customer numbers in our organization and everyone gets one. Can you imagine what the first question the call-center agent asks when a customer calls for service? You guessed it, "May I have your customer number please?" Hmmm...I'm thinking there just might be a valuable takeaway from this post today.

    1. Thanks, Karl. I agree with your takeaway.

      It reminded me of another situation I hate, one that is so impersonal. When I call to make an appointment with the doctor, usually a new doctor, the first question I'm asked is, "What insurance do you have?" I'm going to liken that to getting to second base without asking my name!

      Annette :-)

  2. Great article! But the entry on the receipt makes me suspect that Domino's _did_ create a process to collect your name and create a personalized process. It's likely that your cashier was trained to collect your name - and just failed to do so.

    Instead of a design issue, I suspect it's management. This is often one of the biggest challenge in chains - are you able to implement the designed experience at the local level?

    Contrast this experience to Chick-fil-A, which does a great job at local implementation. They focus on hiring the right managers, so the experience comes out as designed.

    A funny experience, to be certain. It would be fun to investigate to determine where it broke down. I'll bet a nickel it's with the store manager.


    1. Jim,

      Yes, to your point, I believe that the process is there. It is a simple fix. Train your employees. Or perhaps, let's start with the manager, someone who cares enough about the business to ensure that the staff is well trained not only on process like this but also to execute on them consistently. Really, for a process like this, there is no reason to deviate. For some processes, yes, you might need flexibility to adapt to a situation. But this one really is pretty straightforward.

      Annette :-)

    2. Annette,

      I can't but help agree with Jim, Dominoes will have the process, but I don't think the problem is lack of training or necessarily the store manager.

      I'd love to know what it is in the Dominoes "system" that means that the employees can't be bothered and nor can the manager?

      That may well be the root cause of the problem.

      By the way, we do Fish and Chips in the UK on Friday nights, it is a far healthier option.


  3. If only my name were $9.64. Then the lady at my local taqueria would call me by name.

    By the way, I think Jim Tincher may be on to something. Many restaurants just assign a number automatically. It's not personal, but it's okay. Without an automatic identifier, it does make sense that there may be a failure at a local level.

    1. LOL, Jeff. I take it you go there a lot. :-)

      Yup, I assume they do. But wouldn't it be great if they just asked for your name instead, like Einstein Bros. It doesn't really add anything more than a couple seconds to the process. I get it though... most places are "get 'em in, get 'em out." But then again, it works for Einstein Bros.

      Annette :-)

  4. Excellent post, Annnette - and too often, companies just don't realize the importance of all of their touchpoints. You inspired my post today - here's the link. http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2013/06/its-all-about-touchpoints.html

    1. Thanks, Debbie. And thanks for sharing the link to your post. It's a great example of how personalization was actually removed, likely because of inside-out thinking: it's easier for employees not to ask for customer names, but it is more confusing for the customer.

      Not good. Such a simple thing can create a better experience.

      Annette :-)

  5. Now if Domino's were really on the ball they would be checking where their name came up in blogs. Identify you as an opportunity, make contact, make you an offer (free pizza for next two pizza nights say), make sure to train that store again and use your blog as a cautionary tale across the business!

  6. Hi Annette,
    I think you have highlighted a great opportunity for many firms. I also notice that is something that Starbucks has started to do as they aim to 'personalise' the experience. However, one of the things that bugs me about the Starbucks experience is when they spell my name wrong, which makes me wish they didn't ask for my name! So, I guess, for me, the lesson is: if you are going to do it, get it right.