Friday, 2 May 2008

Domino's Pizza in Texas to Route Orders Thru Call Center to Ease Effects of Staff Shortages

To prevent customers from spending Friday nights on hold, local Domino's stores in West Texas will divert orders to a call center starting Monday May 5th so Midlanders can order dinner without waiting to connect with an employee.

With the consistently low unemployment rates in Midland, Jim Gerety, area franchisee, said they've struggled to maintain the staff needed to personally take orders while also running the store.

So starting Monday, callers will be directed to an automated answering service based in Lubbock that will use a voice recognition system to prompt customers through their pizza order, he said. Customers also will have the option of talking to a live person at any point, he said.

"This is a challenging time to be a business owner and a customer in Midland," Gerety said. "But we are determined to seek solutions to improve the customer's experience at Domino's Pizza."

Ideally, Gerety said, stores should have eight to ten people working in the store on a busy night. But in past months local Domino's locations have usually had just four to five employees, he said.

Jason Rodriguez, a Midland College student who's worked at the Domino's on Big Spring for nearly a year, said when the phone lights up on a busy night he often has to stop filling the about 40 pizza orders listed on the store's screen to take additional orders.

"We really don't have enough people," he said, adding the job requires hours that are best for students who prefer nights and weekends, which makes it difficult to keep other employees.

Gerety said they've offered incentives programs, cash bonuses and health benefits to try to maintain employees, but still have come up short-handed.

If they could hire enough employees to handle orders, Gerety said, it would be cheaper than utilizing the automated call center, but at this point that's not an option.

"It's not real cost effective to do this," he said. "This is not a cost driven decision, this is a customer driven decision."

Gerety and co-owner Cassie Nettles said they got the idea after going through the drive through at Jack in the Box, where they said a friendly automated voice took orders and was fairly effective at moving people through the line quickly.

Nettles said in addition to the automated service, customers are encouraged to order online where they can visually walk through the process of selecting coupons and order preferences.

"There's just too few people and too much work out there," Gerety said.

Kathleen Thurber - Midland Reporter/Telegram

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