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How digital has transformed Domino's Pizza's comms

How digital has transformed Domino's Pizza's comms

By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.

Every morning Domino's Pizza CEO, Patrick Doyle, wakes up and, instead of reaching for his daily paper, logs on to social media.

It’s not that’s simply desperate to catch up on the Facebook updates from his mates. Rather he wants to know what users have been saying about his brand.

“I look personally at social media on an ongoing basis.  I’ve got a Twitter feed on my computer,“ he said.

“Every morning I open that up and I look at comments that were made about the brand around the world, you know, on Twitter from the night before.  So it’s unfiltered, unvarnished, you know, feedback on what we need to do.”

Doyle is immersed in social media but there’s good reason. Back in April 2009, pizza chain was faced with a PR disaster after an employee was featured on a YouTube video doing unsanitary things to customer’s food.

The worker, referred to as Michael, was seen spitting in food, putting cheese in his nose before placing it on a sandwich and rubbing a dish washing sponge on his nether regions.

The video went viral and had the potential to ruin the business unless the correct steps were taken, and taken quickly. Regardless of the incident happening in the US, thanks to the digital platform the incident was viewed globally by Domino's sizeable consumer base.

That base supports around 9,000 outlets globally - around 5,000 in the USA and just over 4,000 in other territories.

Domino's answer was to fight fire with fire immediately making a response on YouTube themselves.

The thinking of VP of communications, Tim McIntyre, was if people were going to receive negative PR via the channel then this was the place where the  counteraction had to be received too.

“I was actually on holiday in Florida, and [McIntyre] called me and said, ‘You know what; we’ve got an issue’. And I got on a plane and came home,” Doyle explained.

“Literally by the time I landed it was starting to explode.  And, you know, the viewership of it had gone from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands and was turning into a big issue.  And his advice that, you know, and I look back on it and it was absolutely dead-on, was, ‘We need to address this where it happens‘.”

“If you’ve got an issue that is on television, then it’s logical to go back to television to address that issue.  But if you’ve got an issue that’s on the Internet, why would you go and do a television interview?  And so our view was if the source of the problem is the Internet, then that’s where we need to address it.”

Needing to address the issue speedily, the team quickly pulled out a camera and jotted down a few notes .

“I talked about what we were doing and why what had happened and what we were going to do to fix it, and made sure that people understood that we were very sorry that it had happened in the first place.” Doyle explained.

The fast thinking paid off. But acting quickly was key with the digital age meaning the spread of comms has been accelerated way and beyond what was previously possible.

“It’s a cliché now to talk about the speed of the Internet, but it’s absolutely true. You know, and if you make a mistake, you need to assume now that, you know, that it’s going to be out there and you’re going to need to explain,” said Doyle.

“Even if it’s not a mistake, if it’s something that you’ve done purposefully, you know, you need to explain to people honestly why you did it.  And frankly, some of the learning from YouTube probably played in a little bit to when we launched this new and inspired pizza, which is, you know what, tell ‘em the truth.  Look them in the eye and say, ‘We get it and we’re going to make a change‘.”

He added, “[Consumers are] used to a lot of very slick communication and they see through it.  But if you go to them and you look them in the eye and you tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, they’ll give you a lot of credit for it.

“And if you’re really lucky, you’ll start to build some trust and a relationship with that consumer, that they trust your brand, they trust the company that you’re going to do the right thing, and that’s a pretty powerful thing if you can build that relationship with consumers.”

For the Domino's boss, to be successful in the social media sphere, transparency is vital. It’s all the more important for the business in light of the fact that they are now the fourth-largest e-commerce company in the United States by transaction count.

Not only are consumers purchasing via the internet, but also through mobile phones and various mobile devices.

“You certainly can’t assume that you can keep things secret anymore.  Absolutely not.  And when you’ve got a problem, you know, you need to immediately assume that people are going to know about it and that you’re going to need to respond to it,” Doyle explained.

“You know, I’m looking at [Social Media] every morning myself, just to see what’s going on.  It’s a great, unvarnished voice of the consumer and when you first do it it’s pretty brash out there.”

He continued, “You’re going to see a lot of things, you start understanding the tone, you know, of what’s happening and the way people communicate on the Internet.  And so you need to understand the language and the tone of what’s happening out there.

“But it’s a wonderful source of information.  It’s a wonderful way to tell your story out there.”

Domino's has even gone so far as to have an employee who monitors full-time everything that’s said about the brand, whether it’s in Twitter or on Facebook or in blogs.

“If they mention Domino's Pizza he sees it and he may very well respond.  If it’s a complaint just about an individual experience, you’re going to hear from Phil. Phil’s going to shoot you a note and say, “I’m very sorry this happened.  Let me give you the number of somebody who can fix this for you.”  And it’s a powerful thing,” added Doyle.

To see this interview in full on click here

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