Overcommitting is bad business


I received an email from Pizza Hut on June 5 telling me about their anniversary special: a large 1-topping pizza available for carryout for only $5.55.  The special was good through June 15, eleven days!  It was hard to pass up such a deal.

pizzahutI first ordered the special on a Friday night.  Pizza Hut has a very cool internet ordering app that makes it very easy to customize your order, down to a 1/2 pizza.  You can even place a “future” order to schedule your order to be ready when you want it.  I placed my order and when I was done the app told me what time I could pick my pizza up.

I showed up at my local Pizza Hut at the time specified and stood in line just inside the door.  There was quite a line of people, all waiting to pick up their takeout orders.  It took almost ten minutes to work my way to the cash register and pay for my order. My pizza was lukewarm by the time I got it home.

The next time I ordered the special I scheduled it for a Thursday night figuring it wouldn’t be as busy.  Again I arrived at the time specified by the app: 6:28pm.  This time I was able to get inside the restaurant and saw that there were only a few people ahead of me in line.  The waitress was helping one woman who had some kind of problem with her order. From what I could tell, they had to remake the woman’s order.

In the meantime, no one was coming to the cash register to help the other people waiting or even to say something reassuring to those of us standing around. The phone was ringing constantly and no one was making an effort to pick it up.  It was obvious the few workers were doing the best they could to keep pumping out the pizzas and boxing them up, where they’d be placed on the rack ready for delivery or pickup.  Looking around at the few customers actually eating in the restaurant it appeared that some of them were waiting for their orders as well.

After waiting for almost 10 minutes, an employee with a “Management Team” tag finally appeared and started to deal with those of us waiting.  Customer #2 apparently was waiting for her order which she had already paid for.   The woman in front of me was actually waiting to place an order (I would never have waited that long to place an order).  In the meantime one of the restaurant customers, after waiting impatiently, pushed ahead of me to pay for his meal.  Finally it was my turn after about 15 minutes of waiting.  My two pizzas were pulled from the rack, right where they’d been since I’d arrived.

While I have no way to know for sure, it appeared the employees were way overwhelmed for the number of orders they were dealing with, to the point where they stopped answering the phones.  I sympathize with the employees to a point but it would have been nice if someone would at least have come over to say something. I did have an opportunity to fill out an online survey afterwards so I shared my observations about my experience.

I do think Pizza Hut put their reputation at risk with the promotion.  I’m sure the employees didn’t appreciate such a promotion since there wasn’t much in it for them by making it a takeout only deal.  In the end the customer service suffered for it.  I will think twice about ordering from Pizza Hut the next time they run a really good promotion.

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