Last week after an arduous and lengthy journey back from Boston after Thanksgiving, I ordered a pizza online from Domino's. Don't make fun of me.
On the website, they had this awesome interactive ordering mechanism, and also a "real time" tracking mechanism for your pizza's journey home! I thought it was really cool.
So via this interactive pizza tracker thingy, I watched my pizza being made, then being put in the oven, then being boxed, then heading out on it's way to be delivered.
Then I watched the tracker tell me that I already had my pizza, and that it hoped I was enjoying it.
Which was confusing, because I didn't have the pizza.
And also troublesome because now I just knew this whole, rad interactive pizza tracker didn't really work. My pizza would up coming about 25 minutes after the tracker told me I had it, which was pretty annoying, but if they hadn't built this cool interactive tracker to tell me exactly where my pizza was (or wasn't), then I probably wouldn't have noticed or cared.
Now I know Domino's is a huge operation, and the people that must have to put the information into this tool are like, high school kids that work there. Which begs the question: why would Domino's build a robust tool like this when it would take an incredible degree of attention on the part of each employee to ensure that the pizza tracker worked? (unless it was all fake, and no one was updating it, which would be idiotic).
There are two general branding, or even business, rules that come into play here:
1) you're only as good as your worst employee
2) always set your self up to over-deliver, not under-deliver
It seems like Domino's, by building this feature that, in order to work right, needs constant updating from store-level staff, set themselves up to under-deliver (no pun intended). It's just like the "under 30 minutes thing" , which still seems to have a presence on their site, but in your confirmation email, it says 30-45 minutes. If you can't do it in 30 minutes, simply stop telling people that you can.
It seems obvious that if you set the bar too high without being completely sure you can deliver, you are ensuring inevitable disappointment on the part of the customer. Which is bad, and could be avoided by letting them set their own expectations. Because, really? I don't expect too much from Domino's. If anything resembling a pizza had arrived within an hour of when I ordered it, I would have been cool with it.
But instead they had to go and make me think they were, like, the Gattaca of pizza chains with their probably very expensive web tool that in reality, their employees will probably only use right about 1% of the time. Too bad.