Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chinese Delivery as the Canary in the Coal Mine

Working from a home office today, heard those footsteps up the walk and the inevitable clank of the mailbox mid-afternoon. The mail delivery had already happened, so resigned myself to another armload of crap junk mail flyers.

A single flyer, indeed it was. But it was the 1 in a 1000 flyer I actually wanted to read. It was a new Chinese take/out delivery place just a few blocks from my house. And I was actually seeking recommendations not long ago for a decent, reliable delivery place. So that particular mass marketing outreach actually hit the target and found a responsive prospect.

So tonight I phoned, less than 6 hours after the flyer campaign hit the streets. After studying the menu, the prices, the spiciness scale, I circled my choices and phoned. General Tso's Chicken, Singapore Vermicelli, BBQ pork. Looking forward to having it fuel a bit more work this evening and the wonderful prospect of reheated leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

So I phoned. And gave my name. Twice.

And gave my phone number. (Had to explain the area code was a business cell number...)

And then my street number. That one worked the first time.

But the deal fell apart when the person taking the order could not comprehend my 6-letter, single syllable street name. I spelled it out about a half dozen times. If this person works at the take-out shop, it's almost impossible they didn't drive by my street on the way to work.

And then I gave up. And said, never mind. And hung up. Felt terrible for being rude, but frustrated that they got my attention, sold me on the product, and were utterly unable to deal with the most basic transaction. Was there a language barrier? Perhaps, but couldn't possibly be the only issue, I'd worry if it wasn't an authentic Chinese (or Vietnamese, or Indian) culinary experience awaiting me. That was the whole point.

But the simplest question and response part of the transaction fell apart within a minute, didn't even get to the part about what food I wanted. Rookie? lack of training? bad communication equipment on their end? I have no idea. But the deal was lost. In fact I tore up the menu and chucked it in the recycling bin.

And then as a marketer I sat back, and wondered how the flyer success metrics would be evaluated at the end of the month, or quarter. And how mostly likely, it would be considered a marketing #fail.

And how that conclusion would be so very very wrong, but they'd never know it.

1 comment:

  1. Your experiences emphasizes the importance of a company's front line workers, and how customers perceive a company by the quality of the customer service. Sometimes the most effective marketing plan can be DOA because sales / customer service cannot deliver.