. @Dominos: A Technology Company Transformed because of its Customers

By Elliott Atkins in Customer Insight, Quick Service

When this article was posted a few days ago, HOW DOMINO’S BECAME A TECH COMPANY, it revealed a company that had completely transformed its mindset and its culture to put its customers at the centre of its strategy.

It brought back memories of a very different type of company that had existed not too long ago.

Flashback 2009: Dominos faces a few harsh realities

Remember the Pizza Turnaround Program? This was a direct result of listening to the brutal honesty from their customers saying

Your pizza crust tastes like cardboard…..microwave pizza tastes even better

How did Dominos respond?

We can use comments to either bring us down or we can use it to energize us and excite us to do better things!  ….. We are not worried about a “darker side” of our business, because we don’t have one. We’re not hiding anything. We have embraced social media as a means to connect more directly with those consumers who choose to utilize these channels. It’s all about building a solid culture in your organization.

Dominos chose to take the feedback to develop a better product. Post-it notes on the kitchen walls served with incessant reminders of the “cardboard pizza crust” or the “ketchup-tasting sauce”, amongst many other customer criticisms. Even Stephen Colbert gave Dominos kudos!

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Shortly after the Pizza Turnaround video launched, Dominos faced another set back: In the spring of 2009, another not-so-reputable video appeared in Youtube: revealing a Dominos’ employee in an NC franchise assembling sandwiches and inappropriately handling ingredients before putting these same ingredients on the bread. It didn’t take long for that video to go VIRAL, encroaching on one million plus views.

According to Chris Brandon of Dominos:

We were aware of the video within 45 minutes of its being posted. Our immediate reaction was to distribute still shots of the video nationwide in an attempt to identify the culprits. We found them before the day was over. We closed the store, contacted the franchise owner, the police and the health department… We communicated internally and we communicated to YouTube and to other sites which had reposted it.  The following day, we posted a note on our company site explaining that we had found them, had their employment terminated and that they were facing arrest. On Wednesday, when the video views hit 500,000, we decided to post our own YouTube response.

Following two harrowing events, it’s unlikely a company, who was unwilling to listen…. and learn from its customers, would have survived the fallout. But Dominos did. In 2009, Dominos experienced positive results:

  • Domino’s had positive same store sales growth in 2009 and led that category, beating Papa John’s (flat) and Pizza Hut (negative).
  • Domino’s was ranked #1 in Customer Satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (for the first time ever), right in the midst of this incident.
  • Dominos’ share price continued to rise.

Fastforward to 2014: Dominos – the technology company

Today that share price is at $72 from a low of $2.83 from November 2008. What this company experienced 5 years ago has completely transformed the way they operate. From the Pizza Hero Game App to the iPad Pizza Ordering App, Dominos continues to tap the digital experience to enable and engage its customers.

The basis of the pizza turnaround campaign was transparency. While the brand had the overall goal of transparency when it came to its product, the marketing team also recognized that the best way to communicate that transparency was via digital products

The Think Oven: The Ultimate transparency

Continuing to listen to the customer is the cornerstone of Dominos. The Think Oven launched within their Facebook Page, allows Dominos to crowdsource ideas from its customers: from menu items to sustainability to current projects like Dominos’ staff uniforms. All ideas are unfiltered, welcomed and the best ones are happily rewarded. Managers and employees from the franchises are also lending their opinion. Tony, Calcao, of CP&B, Agency for Dominos states:

At the end of the day, you’re asking someone to help your business. This isn’t just [a contest] for a funny picture–this is give me an idea to make our company better

That mandate has not changed from 2010. The harsh lessons this company has learned has allowed it to iterate along the way and prosper in the process. As Chris Brandon stated in 2010,

Social media it gives us an avenue to continue to have open and honest interaction with consumers and Domino’s fans. When you listen to the consumer, work to improve on what they tell you can be improved, respect that customers today want honesty and transparency… good things are bound to happen.

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