Will Texting Kill the Pizza Hut Phone Answerer?

pizzaLast week, Pizza Hut announced that it was joining Papa Johns and Dominos in the “text us your order from your mobile device” delivery service war. After digesting the concept for a few days, it’s made me as gassy as the last time I downed a Supreme pie and some cheese-injected breadsticks.Allow me a few moments to outline my beef and then please feel free to voice your opinion on this newish form of online communications.

TIME: Texting is great when you want to communicate quickly and cut human interaction out of the equation. But I don’t see how texting my order will really save me time. By the time I track down the pizza joint’s #, verify it’s the right one, take my friend’s orders and correct the “intuitive” text that my phone thinks I want, I could have called. Probably twice.

SPECIALTY ORDERS: Between picky people and those with food allergies, it’s never as simple as “One large pie and a 2-liter Coke.” Who wants to be bothered with “1/2 MSHRM, 1/2 PPRONI. XTRA CRSPY. SIDE SAUCE. etc.” We’re lucky if the worker gets it right when we repeat it verbally four times.

IN-STORE PICKUP: Maybe it’s just me the lousy experiences, but I’ve found many major retailers’ “order online, pick up in-store” systems simply suck (I’m talking to you, SEARS!). Whether it’s a messy stockroom or a database issue, I don’t know. What I do know is NEVER trust a stores’ product availability message until it is in your hands. While it’s unlikely that Pizza Hut will run out of “onions” or “bacon,” it’s always a possibility – and a text will not tell you that.

THE PEOPLE FACTOR: At the end of the day, the customer service experience will be determined by people – not machines. Regardless of how I get my order in, the question becomes, what will the “cook” actually do?

In summary, I’m not saying it is an absolutely horrendous idea. I think a small fraction of society will embrace it. However, Pizza Hut is aiming to receive 50% of its orders via mobile phone over the next five years. If 49% of that includes mobile voice calls, they’re in good shape.