The next can be an excerpt from Jeffery Hayzlett’s new book Think Big Act Bigger. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
Why is a company admit in the most public way possible that its namesake product sucks? This year 2010, Domino’s Pizza not merely said it in a significant marketing campaign but also showed actual social media posts and focus group footage of their customers saying the pizza tasted "boring," "flavorless," "the worst" and, mostly, "like cardboard." Employees at the business headquarters, from the chefs to the PR visitors to the senior management to CEO Patrick Doyle, read and taken care of immediately customers’ comments.
When I saw the Domino’s commercial for the very first time on TV, I was stunned. Who within their right mind would do that–spend huge amount of money on a national TV campaign to tell the world your product was awful? How risky was it to go and admit to your visitors that you suck? Domino’s was certainly successful enough. Brand recognition was high, and business have been by most measures successful and profitable. Why take these risks and change when things are good?
I visited Ann Arbor to get the answer for my Television show The C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and learned the answer was about awareness: Domino’s discovered it didn’t know very well what it didn’t know.
In a few ways, Domino’s is less one big business when compared to a unified band of small and medium-sized businesses with deep company ties: 95 percent of its stores are franchise-owned, and 90 percent of these franchisees began by working there. Together, they’d been united under one brand promise for a lot more than 50 years: to be the very best pizza-delivery company in the world–getting your order delivered in thirty minutes or less. Domino’s wasn’t about taste; it had been about convenience and speed.
The simple truth is, Domino’s knew its pizza wasn’t the best–it cared more about getting us the box than that which was in the box. Therefore did we. That could all change when Domino’s said its pizza sucked.
To put it simply, Domino’s listened beyond underneath line to the clients who were saying they wanted more. Research showed those customers’ palates were changing–what they valued was changing. They still wanted fast delivery however, not at the trouble of flavor. Domino’s saw this change as permanent and inevitable and started remaking everything, so when the business was ready, it made a decision to take action really radical: tell the reality. Domino’s owned what they’d been and communicated it openly, honestly, and transparently. In saying they sucked, in addition they said, "We paid attention to you, and we know. Our chefs are likely to satisfy your tastebuds and give you the very best quality product your money can buy."
What I learned at Domino’s underscores essential lessons in genuine leadership with regards to finding out everything you have no idea and thinking big and acting bigger. Check out those lessons:
For a long time, companies have hidden behind emails that go nowhere, online help that never appears to be online, and 800 numbers with endless options ("If you need to speak to a representative … all the best."). We’ve forced customers to adhere to our very own policies and procedures, but through social media, the voice of the client is becoming more critical and provided opportunities for genuine two-way dialogue. Pay attention to them, and you will probably find something you don’t understand that leads to radical change.
Once you have decided to pay attention to your customers, you should make certain you’re giving an answer to what they want and know just what they’re discussing. Domino’s had heard the complaints for a long time about its pizza, but after the company had focused on the change, it ensured it had been responding exactly from what the largest complaints were. Today, it replies regularly to complaints and compliments online. Do you?
Even though we’re hearing our customers, we’re too ready to make decisions without hearing, giving an answer to, and involving our best assets: our people. Inquire further, without consequences, to let you know what they think, offer suggestions to help solve the problem, and also have a stake in delivering the results. Domino’s showed how it did this in its commercial using real employees to tell the story of what sucked, how they felt about the criticism, and how they helped enact change.
If something has disrupted your business, you are not likely to win by striking back with small, measured steps–"Now with tastier sauce!" That’s about thinking small. Taking chances could be great if everyone (including you) who’s taking that risk knows where you intend to go and is genuinely completely committed top to bottom.
Whether it requires a crisis or just an instant of serious self-scrutiny, the most crucial thing is that people act honestly whenever we act radically.
That last point may be the key: Can you take part in real, honest communication? If you are claiming to be authentic, then you’ve got to actually be authentic, because someone will see you out.
Imagine if Domino’s staged the focus groups? Imagine if it used actors rather than employees in its commercials? Imagine if it wrote those customer complaints itself? How long do you consider it would took for that to leak and social media to spread it everywhere? Domino’s got real instead and used genuine radical transparency. Telling its customers the pizza sucked worked. Domino’s sales grew 14.5 percent. As I write this, its stock has doubled to an all-time high. Around the Super Bowl, they might have go out of pepperoni if its executives hadn’t gotten in trucks to provide more to the stores.
The main element for Domino’s, and for just about any company that partcipates in such a dramatic reboot, is never to fall back the same trap that first got it there. Domino’s knows the results of not maintaining the promises it’s made, relationships it’s forged, and knowing of what it generally does not know. It must: Everyone from microwave brands to chains like Papa John’s and Little Caesars to local pizza places and beyond are constantly competing for business. To remain ahead and keep maintaining brand loyalty, Domino’s will have to stay active on social media and continue steadily to adapt by listening and innovating using its menu and services. Compared to that end, Domino’s is concentrating on ordering and delivery again using its app replacing the landline phone and removing the middlemen between your customers and the pizza.