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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

dominos pizza tracker3 weeks ago we had all of our belongings boxes and shipped from Boston to Florida. The movers still haven’t arrived and we don’t know where our items are and we don’t know when they will arrive.

I find this incomprehensible.

Domino’s Pizza can tell me where my pizza is in the cooking process, who is cooking it, and when it will arrive. The pizza tracker is awesome. Aside from being informative it is fun to watch.

Every companies should have a “pizza” tracker. I want to see exactly where my belongings are in their transit from Boston to Florida. I want to see where the truck is. And I want to know the estimated delivery date and time. Hey, I even want to know the truck driver’s name.

Pure Insurance, a concierge-style home owners and automotive insurance company has their own version of the tracker. When you place a claim you can see how the claim is progressing through the system. This claims tracker helps you see exactly where everything stands.

My parents had their house flooded after a burst pipe this winter. They had no clue when their claim would be processed. Their claims adjustor changed several times. It was a big black hole…until the check eventually showed up. Clearly my parents did not have Pure Insurance!

The best ideas typically come from other industries.

Just because your insurance or moving company competitors don’t offer a tracker doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Back in 1991 I did a project with UPS where we launched what was called “Groundtrack.” Up until that time only air packages were tracked; about 700,000 a day. Then, UPS decided to offer tracking on ground packages; over 10 million packages a day (I hope I have my numbers right; this was a long time ago). It was a complicated procedural effort. And back then the technology was not as sophisticated as it is today, so it was a huge investment on their part. But here’s the interesting thing: ground package tracking was not developed to improve delivery or help UPS do its job. They were already wildly efficient and knew where packages were. Ground tracking was offered because it gave customers peace of mind through greater transparency. Back then this was a radical move.

But today this should be an expectation of every company.

This morning we had another example of where this would be helpful. We just started a water service in our house. The cooler and 5 gallon bottles were supposed to be delivered between 8am and 10am. 10am rolls around and no word. So we called and found out that there was a delay, but they would definitely be there by 10:45am. Predictably they they did not show up until 11:15. If we had the tracker we would know that. And if you can’t do a real-time tracker, at least have the courtesy of calling or sending an email/text message letting us know of the delay.

The applications are limitless. It can be used for many processes.

I would love it if the Accounts Payable department of my clients had a pizza tracker to tell me when I will get paid.

So please…steal the pizza tracker idea. Your customers will thank you. Or at least I will.

And now I need to go track down our belongings…

  1. What too few companies understand is that, increasingly, expectations are set across industries, not merely within the industry. So many companies are raising the bar for service that the cost of entry becomes more based on the customer’s overall experience, not just experience among a tightly defined set of competitors.

  2. I remember traveling from Boston to Caracas in 2005 with my brother and friend, and Continental lost our luggage for 4 days. It was maddening (but to your point in this blog, comforting) to know that on Day 3 they were tracking our bags “on their way from Pittsburgh to Hartford”, two places that had nothing to do with our itinerary. I remember thinking “well, they’re inept, but at least they can track how inept they are”.

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