A Pizza My Mind
During transitional times in my life I have worked as a customer service representative and delivery driver for two prominent American pizza chains.
Despite some of the downsides of the pizza delivery business that I write about in this booklet, I generally like that work. People connect pizza with good times and convenience. I like to be a part of making the lives of people a little easier and happier.
In my opinion, I think people like the pizza deliverers as much as they like cops or fireman though I do not mean to diminish the valuable work of either of those two professions. Many are the times where I have cruised through a neighborhood to or from a delivery and kids have shouted “Hey pizza man!” or I am asked about what it would take to get a free pizza from me.
As a delivery driver I see people as they really are. I love the pure humanity of it all. From the people in their pajamas (or less) to the marijuana enhanced poker games to the children’s birthday parties to the weary travelers lodging in a hotel room for a night.
For the most part I also enjoy the interface that I have with people either at the counter in the shop or at the front door of their homes. The exceptions, of course, are when something goes wrong somewhere in the processes from ordering to payment.
Those problems are what this little booklet is about.
There is a saying in business that “the customer is always right.”
And that is warm, steamy bullshit. The customer is NOT always right. Anyone who’s ever worked in the service or retail sectors knows that to be true. It should be no surprise that those who’ve worked in the retail or service sectors tend to be the best and most patient customers due to their own experiences in working with the public.
It is true that some pizza franchises deliver poor service and end product due to management issues and a lack of conscientious oversight, but there are many times where the customer is as much to blame for things going wrong, if not more, than the one taking the order, baking the pizza, or delivering it to the door.
If the ordering, preparing, delivery and payment processes of getting pizza is to go well, it takes cooperation between the customer and the provider. This article is written especially for those who have no idea what goes on in the pizza delivery process. I know that most people believe it to be a fairly simple and straightforward process. The process is designed to be that way but all too often things just don’t work out as well or as efficiently as they should and that breakdown occurs due to the customer as often as it does due to the provider.
I’ll keep doing my part to be the best customer service representative and delivery driver that I can be. I won’t accept the blame, however, when you’ve not done your part to help this transaction go well.
ORDERING BY PHONE
Today there are a number of different ways to order pizza. Those options are convenient. Some are almost foolproof. Nevertheless, I want to address the process of ordering pizza over the phone.
It is strange to me that most errors and misunderstandings related to ordering pizza do not occur from problems with technology but from the interaction of human Beings.
Those who choose to order their pizza by telephone need to be mindful of the confusion and many distractions which can be eliminated with just a little conscientiousness on the part of the customer.
Pizza shops are usually noisy and hectic places. Customer service representatives shouting to preparers, preparers shouting to drivers, drivers shouting to each other. Like an aircraft carrier flight deck, it can all be controlled chaos to provide the best product and service to the customer.
It doesn’t help the customer, then, when there are background distractions created from the point of the caller.
To improve the speed and accuracy of your order, determine what type of pizza and toppings that everyone would like before you pick up the phone. All too often customer service representatives are confused by conversations between the caller and others in close proximity to them. The moment of the call is NOT the time to work out what sort of pizza everyone would like to enjoy.
In the most recent pizza place that I worked, the ordering system was a reasonably efficient computer program where all of the elements of ordering and delivery could be manipulated with a few keystrokes. Yet even with this relative efficiency errors still occurred when the customer service representative could not clearly hear the caller for the background distractions coming from the point of the call.
When calling in a pizza order, have a good idea of what types of pizza that you want and then go to a quiet place to call; a space without distractions. You’re going to save yourself a lot of grief that way and it will actually contribute to a more efficient and accurate process.
Also, it is important for the customer to let the CSR (customer service representative) lead the conversation and dictate the pace of the ordering process. In my experience I’ve had customers begin ordering within moments after the initial greeting with such immediacy that one would think CSR’s were stenographers versed in shorthand.
There is a protocol of process unique to every pizza shop. That process works most efficiently when it is allowed to operate according to its intended design, timing and function. Rather than jumping right into placing your order, allow the CSR on the other end of the phone to lead you through the process.
As occasions demand, I deliberately let the caller go through their entire order and then take them back to step one of the protocol and proceed thoroughly from there. I slow them down. I sometimes detect frustration in their voices but it is a far less frustration than receiving an incorrect order at their door or at the counter of the shop.
For an order to have the best chance of being accurate it is also vital that the CSR can understand what you’re saying. Speech impediments aside, if you are so drunk or stoned to speak articulately or with lucidity then you should not be the one to order pizza.
So here’s the take away from this section:
Decide what types of pizza that you and everyone else wants BEFORE you call.
Eliminate background distractions.
Let the CSR set the pace in the ordering process.
Speak clearly and lucidly.
Delivering pizza is an inglorious job. True, most people are glad to see you stop and step up on their porch but the work really doesn’t offer any real occupational gratification. Delivering pizza is probably not the career that your driver has aspired to. Please bear in mind that most drivers are employed in this work because better jobs aren’t readily available to them, or they’re struggling to make ends meet by taking on this second job, or they’re kids in college making a sacrifice and trying to find a balance between living, studies and work.
By the time that your delivery driver has arrived at your home they have probably have experienced varying types and degrees of frustration and anxiety even before leaving the pizza shop. That frustration only increases when there are traffic issues which extend the delivery time.
In my view the most frustrating thing about delivering pizza is poorly marked address numbers. Even with the most sophisticated GPS (global positioning) navigational aids there are many nights, in particular, where it can take me longer than five minutes to accurately locate an address.
Hunting or guessing addresses increases the time that it takes a pizza to get from the oven to the table and it’s not because your driver is fooling around.
Many are the times where I have arrived at the wrong door with a large order only to apologize for an interruption, replace the order into my car and drive around a little more, or trudge across a lawn or two, just to get to the correct address.
Be sure that your address numbers are bold and can be seen from the curb at night. If your home is some distance from the road, ensure that your address is clearly seen on your mailbox. Even 2” inch numbers would help.
If the numbers on your home are difficult to see at night please give the delivery driver a better clue of where to locate you by turning on your porch light. Those lights get the attention of a driver and do lessen the search time.
Then, adding insult to injury, there have been occasions such as the one that I have just written about where, presumably because I arrived later than expected, the customer doesn’t even tip. It’s hard not to feel contempt or resentment toward the customer because of that.
Payments which are made by debit or credit cards are the best way to complete the transaction. There is little more to do at the door than to quickly sign the credit slip and receive the pizza. Credit or debit payments almost completely eliminate the chance of error or short changing.
However, if you choose to pay with cash, please do your best to have the correct, or near to correct, amount ready to be exchanged. Almost all drivers carry $20 or less and so their ability to make change is limited by that amount. It may well be that they have a combination of denominations, such as three fives and five ones, which make it difficult to return a precise amount of change.
Additionally, don’t be a damn cheapskate. If the total can be rounded up or down by a few pennies don’t demand or expect the driver to play tiddlywinks or tickle dink with the change in their pocket while you’re impatiently standing there waiting for 17 cents.
Let the small excess serve as a tip or as a portion of the tip. Given that you’ve probably saved dollars through a marketing special surrendering a few cents for the sake of speed and convenience isn’t going to plunge you into financial crisis or ruin.
Speaking of tipping, do it. Some pizza companies charge a delivery fee which some customers believe is paid to the delivery driver. Wrong. Those fees are not tips and they are not directly paid to the drivers. Most pizza companies receive a cut of that fee. Some pizza companies also have pay differentials whereby drivers earn a higher amount while in the shop than they do when they are on the road. That delivery fee helps to augment the lower pay while they’re on the road bringing pizza to you.
Delivery drivers are usually the interface between the customer and the company. Their job, while appearing simplistic, involves a great deal of restraint in dealing with dissatisfied customers as well as facing the stresses of traffic, in finding locations and the risk of being robbed. When they are not tipped they sense the clear message that you don’t appreciate their service. Think about it, they are bringing food to you which will feed you, your family or your guests. They deliver in cold, in the heat, in the rain and in the snow. Frankly, they are perpetually underpaid for doing that.
If you’re a non-tipping asshole, fuck you. Your delivery driver is the better person. We do remember your address and you may never get another pizza delivered in the time that you expect. Veteran drivers remember the locations of good deliveries and bad ones. They share that information with other drivers. If your delivery time always seems to be slow, consider whether or not you’ve treated your delivery driver well.
Remember, ordering pizza is a two way process with a number of different components. Without your cooperation as a customer it is altogether possible that the problems encountered in the process may well be problems that you have caused or contributed to.
Help your pizza shop help you.