The Decade's Most Innovative Experience Company...Sells Pizzas?

"We're not in the coffee business serving people, we're in the people business serving coffee."

That line comes from Howard Schultz, former CEO and Chairman of Starbucks. He references that philosophy in describing how Starbucks understood their offering was considerably more than a caffeinated beverage. It's a fascinating take, that comes from his recent episode of the Masters of Scale podcast (it lands at the 23:20 mark, but give the whole episode a listen if you can).

I think the same could be said for perhaps the most innovative customer experience brand of the last decade.

The usual suspects would certainly be in play, names like Apple, Amazon, The Standard Hotels, Delta, Rent the Runway, Nordstrom's, Netflix and many more. But what's the fun in choosing a brand everyone's already heralded? There's one that I think can make an argument to be atop the customer experience heap, and they've been criminally underrated in my opinion.

That company? None other than Domino's Pizza.

June marked the end of J. Patrick Doyle's tenure as the CEO of Domino's, and I can hardly think of a company that's been as consistently progressive at innovating around the customer (and employee) experience. Doyle's leadership is known for "going for first downs", and with his retirement after nearly a decade, it's fascinating to look at how he did.

If we look at market cap, the Domino's stock price (DPZ), from Doyle's start to the time of writing, has gone from roughly $13.00 to nearly $300.00 a share. A 23X growth plan, that, in some ways, takes a page from the Starbucks story.

Domino's is no longer a pizza company that delivers great experiences, they're an experience company, that just so happens to deliver pizzas.

Which begs not so much the question of how they've done, but rather, how have they done it?

The answer, in my opinion, is an innovative spirit that's fixated on improving and personalizing customer experiences. To refresh your memory, in recent years Domino's has:

  1. Overhauled their recipes
  2. Launched an inventive pizza tracker
  3. Migrated billions in sales to digital platforms
  4. Built their "Pizza Mogul" program for social influencers
  5. Revamped their physical distribution locations
  6. Digitized offerings to channels like wearables, IoT-enabled devices, Slack, and Twitter
  7. Built personalized profiles for individual consumers
  8. Launched a carry-out insurance program (not a joke)
  9. Enabled delivery to non-addressed locations

My goodness - I know some of you thought I was writing this in jest but look at that list! And I could keep going! Did you know that they have no-click ordering? Did you know they built voice integrations to work with your Alexa or Google Home? Did you know they're working with Ford on self-driving delivery vehicles?

Truthfully, of that entire list, only one of their innovations is really product-focused, and that one was about making sure their crust didn't taste like cardboard anymore. The rest are focused on minimizing friction and providing personalization across the customer journey. Making engagement easy and individualized is a recipe for increasing the propensity for consumers to buy (see again, no-click ordering).

Everyone's welcome to debate taste preferences. But in the world of customer experiences, game recognize game. Irrespective of whether you're a fan of their pies, these guys have been unrivaled in terms of hospitality innovation. They've taken chances, reshaped expectations, and proven what a customer-centric mentality can mean to the bottom line.

I came up through business programs that talked about the four keys of marketing as being product, price, place, and promotion. Today, Domino's has managed to epitomize the next generation of businesses, where the new imperative "P" is personalization.

Domino's meets customers on their terms, with a bevy of mechanisms for engagement that maximize individualization, localization, real-time feedback, physical and digital support, and more. They're a shining example of how the new "P" of personalization can reshape experiences and drive incredible growth.

Although, you'd be forgiven for thinking that new "P" stands for pizza.