Domino’s Pizza – where time stands still

I was at the Twenty Twenty cricket in the week. I went last year and enjoyed it so much I decided to return again. Partly due the complimentary ticket courtesy of a good mate.


It was even more confusing than last time. We didn’t play Jack Duckworth – but Twenty Twenty became Niner Niner – which doesn’t have the same ring. The match was delayed until 8.30pm – so the period from 6pm was literally ‘watching grass grow’.

I got hungry watching.

I had observed a number of people sporting Domino’s Pizza boxes – which set the taste buds off. So a trip to Domino’s ensued.

The forst part was pretty good – we ordered two pizza’s – gave our name and was told that it would be about 10 minutes or so. Then on a computer screen my name popped up with ’8 minutes wait’. I was impressed. Not so impressed with the girl who had an odd name on her badge “Charlotte 1245″. I told her I thought it was ‘unusual’. She smirked. In between talking at the telephones which were constantly ringing. She glowered at the handset (it was on the hook) and told it that ‘she was in no mood…’.

But all of this customer service banter soon lost its shine as we realised that the 8 minutes didn’t actually change. In fact if didn’t change for 40 minutes.


We have several chats. Culminating in her explanation as to what had gone wrong. In essence they don’t decide whose food gets cooked – the computer does. And if people phone in they get priority. As if that isn’t bad enough they can’t actually tell you where your food is. So you just have to wait. It was not possible to tell me if my food was in the oven (even when the computer suggested it was) – we would only know that when it came out.

Domino’s Pizza – your staff in West Bridgford were surly to the point of rudeness. Your computer system resembles a broken toilet and the suggestion that you are perfectionists is one of the most ridiculous suggestions I have ever heard.

The best photo shop in the world? Probably.

It’s a long way to go, but near to Madison Square Garden in New York is probably the biggest and best photo shop in the world! It is known as B&H.


This is boy-heaven.

Every time I have been to New York I have been to the shop – it really is a mecca for photographers and film makers. They literally sell everything to do with photography and film.

The staff are clearly all enthusiasts and are extremely knowledgeable. I had a half hour conversation with one – a Canon expert on where my hard earned cash should go! He was objective and helped me make a tough choice! It is fair to say he knew his stuff!

I then traded my old camera in and they gave me a higher price than I anticipated. We haggled a bit as I didn’t have the battery charger! But the whole episode was done with good grace and humour.

I left a happy chappy – with a new toy – which is completely awesome.

But the real part of this story is that I had a survey arrive as I got back to the hotel. I don’t normally bother as I suspect no one reads them (I filled one in when I bought a car recently telling the dealership how appallingly we had been treated and have never heard anything!). But B&H are different. Last night I had an email. From the Store Operations Manager – thanking me for my feedback about the location of the trade in counter (which was outside!) – he explained why – and that they were hoping to resolve this. He then thanked me for my positive feedback – of which there was plenty!

Blimey – someone actually reads the surveys.

Well done B&H. Highly recommended. And I will go again. Soon?

If Costa jobs are sought after how come miserable staff keep their jobs?

I converted to Costa Coffee nearly two years ago after years of Starbuck-addiction. This was partly due to the fact that the new Costa coffee had free wi-fi but also that I didn’t get my car doors dinged in Sainsbury’s car park (where my local Starbucks lives).


One of my clients has built a new Costa Coffee unit on the outskirts of Nottingham – and it has just opened. My firm were the letting agents.

Costa made the national newspaper headlines two weeks ago when they announced that they had received 1.700 applications for just 8 jobs – five of which were part time. These are not highly paid jobs – rates are between £6.10 and £10 per hour.

Most mornings I need a wi-fi fix (and a splash of caffeine) so trek to my local Costa. Most of the staff know what I need want. But there are a couple who treat me as a stranger – sometimes as if I am something of an irritant to their morning routine. They couldn’t be more miserable if they tried.

I wouldn’t want to work in Costa – but clearly 1,700 people do. Two in Castle Marina branch don’t. Can I suggest you step aside guys? You know who you are – you turn the milk sour…

It could have been a disaster…

As you will have gathered from my last post – I’m away skiing. And for the first time I have come to USA – rather than Europe.


We arrived on Friday after a short transatlantic flight and collected a car. We then set off on the 200 mile journey up into Vermont – and five hours later we arrived! That was around 4.30am UK time. The Hotel looked ok, but seemed to be all locked up for the night. In fact it was. They weren’t expecting us. Fortunately the bar was still open (small mercies?).

What happened next was likely to be the difference between a really good experience and a holiday nightmare!

As it turned out the staff were brilliant – they managed to find us two rooms – gave us free drinks and promised to sort it all out in the morning. In fact there were two locals in the bar – who also joined in on the assistance front! One even suggested that if we weren’t able to sort a room we could borrow his house!

The following morning we were given a complimentary breakfast – the staff couldn’t apologise enough – although I’m not sure it was their fault.

We have since been moved to a suite – and told that we can remain.

So it does go to show that great service is still out there. Sadly I don’t come across it all that often.

If you find yourself in Vermont I can’t recommend Ye Old England Inne highly enough. customer service at its best.

How will shops survive? Customer service would be a good start!

I saw some data in the week about our shopping habits notably that every minute we spend £175,015 on-line. On-line is estimated to account for around 17% of our purchases now.

Curry’s customer service – hot it’s not

I think you have to balance the convenience and price matching on-line against the inability to go and touch what you want to buy in the shops. The internet doesn’t offer coffee shops to give you a breather either!

We are also seeing the emergence of ‘clicks and bricks’ where you order on-line and collect in a store. I guess that is a clever mix.

There is no doubt that shops are going to need to compete. In the case of the smaller shops we can see survival by them adopting a niche place. They can offer something that you can’t get on-line – or that needs you to go an touch / feel. The bigger shops tend to rely on pricing to entice us.

At the weekend I had to pick up a sat-nav unit. John Lewis were out of stock so I found myself in Curry’s at Castle Marina. On the face of it this was easy – they had the stock and some of the TomTom units were on offer. Then I tried to buy the damned thing. I asked a customer services representative (aka shop assistant) who pointed me back to the area and told me he’d get a colleague. I waited and waited until I saw him again. It seems he had forgotten. Since it was nearly closing time and I needed a unit I had little alternative than to wait. Ordinarily I would have left.

My point is that shops can’t just compete on price and stock levels (and thus the touchy feely stuff). They need to make sure that the customer experience is first class too. If they don’t – they won’t survive.

Treat all guests as Angels – you just never know

I was away at the weekend – staying in the Lake District with friends. It was a great Hotel – located on the banks of the Lake Windermere. The Hotel has clearly been refurbished in recent years and it didn’t smack of one of those nearly-a-four-star establishment that we are used to in the UK.

But it shouldn’t have done either – it was more than I pay for a night in London. Tourist rates prevail here. But I am not complaining…

I do, though, have an observation. Many of the staff are Eastern European. A couple of the girl waitresses were Czechoslovakian. They work incredibly hard – we saw them clearing up after the evening meals and back again for breakfast the following morning. They told us that they usually get two days off, but since they were busy – that was just down to one day. There was not a hint of complaint. They were pleasant and courteous – despite what are clearly quite tough working conditions! They seemed to enjoy the work – or if they didn’t they put on a brave face!

There was one slight fly in the ointment though. The Bar manager seemed to have a bit of a sense of humour by-pass. In fact he was decidedly grumpy. On Sunday morning he had completely forgotten the charm rules. He didn’t quite muster ‘Good Morning’ – unless it was mime. He scuttled away at every opportunity.

Guess his Nationality? A clue – his real name – “Steve”. Yep, English.

It is embarrassing that we can’t get this simple thing right. It also makes you wonder how he managed to motivate his young staff when he clearly couldn’t motivate himself.

As I was once wisely told, “Treat all guests as Angels, you just never know”…

The Branson Pickle

As you might have gathered I have been having fun in trying to re-connect with my luggage in New York. Finally the bag I entrusted to a nice girl at Heathrow has been delivered to my hotel in New York, it took 36 hours. It arrived in the middle of last night.

The Blind Man sent the bag back to the airport and Virgin then had it shipped to the Hotel. It was the least they could do. I did note Mr Branson that you had it delivered by the ‘regular’ service as opposed to the ‘rush’ option the delivery company offer.

Virgin Atlantic are an organisation who pride themselves on excellent customer service. Well, on their performance over the first 36 hours of my holiday were woeful. A few issues:

1. A member of their staff picking my bag up for the blind man in the first place – a good idea to check? He was blind after all.
2. My having to suggest that there had been a swap as the blind mans bag was similar and still on the carousel?
3. Giving me a USA number to call to get an update which didn’t work. It was unobtainable.
4. A warning that I should keep my spending to a minimum for emergency stuff only. $50 doesn’t go far when you need 2 x sets of basic clothes and toiletries.
5. That I had to call Virgin three times in the UK to get an update – despite the fact that they promised to keep me posted – they had my mobile and email addresses – but didn’t use either. Ever.
6. They use a delivery company in the USA who they can’t talk to (!) – so although they knew that my bag was with the delivery company they couldn’t tell me where it was / make contact with the company – other than by emailing them!
7. When they did dispatch the bag from JFK they used a ‘regular’ delivery service – within 12 hours when there was a ‘rush’ option.
8. Being unable to find my details on two occasions – despite me having a reference number. Hardly confidence inspiring.

This is one of this occasions when you are completely powerless to do anything. The staff say the right things but didn’t do anything pro-active.This is a very short break, spending the first 36 hours wondering what to – especially if the case didn’t turn up? At what point do you go out and start replacing some of the things in there…

One very unimpressed Virgin customer. Back to BA next time I think.

Customer Service and some dead easy rules

Sometimes I wonder why people don’t get this customer service thing? It’s not rocket science – or is it?

In the last week, I have witnessed some quite astonishing complacency. I was always told that it was 7 times harder to win a new client than keep an existing one. I think the statistic is made up, but the sentiment is surely right? All too often I see people chasing new clients at the expense of the exiting client. It’s silly.

I went to a meeting where I raised a number of issues – I am a client in this case, but I shall spare the organisation their blushes. As I reeled off a number of examples explaining why they were losing existing clients I was repeatedly told ‘that shouldn’t happen’. But the point is that it does. The point is that most of the instances were ones where the existing customer base is being put second to trying to win new customers.

It reminded me of that famous Charles Handy quote -”if you put a frog in a jug of boiling water it will jump out. If, however, you put the same frog in a jug of cold water and slowly bring it to the boil it will sit there and eventually die from the boiling.” Sometimes organisations sit their in warm water, which gets hotter – and before they realise – it’s too late to jump out.

All too often we can be focused on winning new business – the real trick is to not lose sight of your existing clients.

The upshot of my experience is that I have started to contemplate taking my business elsewhere. People have choices – and I want to know that the people I give money to actually care about me.

Swiss service?

I have always thought Switzerland was a pretty cool place. Their knives are pretty good and I like their railway clocks. They have a ruthless efficiency which I admire.

Geneva - and the Jet d'eau

At the weekend I had to book a Hotel late to crash out for the night after the motor show. The deal was ok, Swiss expensive for the 3* standard, but this was Geneva. The Hotel Montana was quite well located close to the main train station and a five-minute walk from Lake Geneva.

The room was pretty basic and I could tolerate the noise outside for a few hours. My son, Jak and I just needed somewhere to crash.

I also needed to print my boarding cards for my BMI flight home (I could only check-in on-line 24 hours before the flight). If you don’t do this you get stung for £11 each at the airport for the pleasure of printing the Boarding Card.

So I managed to get the cards in PDF format and went to the receptionist at the hotel to ask if she could print them. I was really polite. I even waited whilst she finished drooling over her boyfriend on her mobile. The answer was a very firm ‘non’. I asked why (politely) and was told that it was ‘illegal’. I think she meant it was against the rules.

She then became somewhat agitated telling me that her boss would sack her if she did such a thing – it was ‘illegal’. I told her I would sack her too – but the customer being always right was lost here. Customer service was never here I suspect.

To make matters worse, her boss only works weekdays…

I emailed the manager and the following morning tried again with the new man on reception – he said ‘of course he could’… He proceeded to print them from my email. Wasn’t difficult – and probably cost him a few swiss francs?

Why do some people make life so very difficult? I feel a manifesto pledge coming on!

My broken Amazon Kindle… and great customer service

For some reason my Kindle has parted company with this life. The screen has frozen – the only visible image is half of the face of Enid Blyton with vertical and horizontal lines across the rest of the screen. It’s not easy to read my Steve Job’s biography!

What my Kindle used to look like...

I have no idea what has happened, I don’t think it has been dropped or otherwise abused – it lives permanently in the case it came with.

So, I thought I would see what Amazon thought. They have a web-page with some self-help remedies. None worked for me. Then you can email them, which I did. I got a fairly quick response (less than 12 hours) asking me to call them via a link on their website. You basically enter your phone number and asks them to call – your two options are ‘now’ or ‘in 5 minutes’. i opted for ‘now’. The phone instantly rang!

I went through a few details with the lady – she obvious knew who I was. She decided that it was definitely broken and said they would post me a new one. I need to send the other one back. She emailed me a confirmation and a return label to print. I have to use the ‘new’ box – and someone is going to collect it from my work…

When my new Kindle arrives, I simply have to register it and all of my books will automatically download!

To put it mildly, I am impressed. There was no fuss, no drama and the whole thing couldn’t have been easier. After my last dealing with Sky, this was a refreshing change. And, I’m looking forward to getting back to the life and times of the late Steve Jobs.

Well done Amazon – this is exceptional customer service…