Seven months is a long time in the life of a brand. As Zomato must have discovered to its surprise. A pleasant one.
In December 2018, one of the Zomato delivery executives was captured on camera pulling out a food package from his bag, taking a couple of bites and resealing it before leaving for his delivery location. Digital mob lynching followed with the video going viral. Zomato investigated the case and found that the video was shot in Madurai in Tamil Nadu. It admitted there was a “human error in judgement and took him (the delivery executive) off the platform”.
While admittedly customer satisfaction is of paramount importance and what the delivery man did was certainly not right, did it warrant him losing his job? Wouldn’t a warning have sufficed?
Given the conditions the food delivery agents work in, always on the move, zipzapping through traffic, often recklessly at great risk to life and limb, it is quite possible the man must have missed his lunch that day, just to ensure the customers got their packets delivered on time.
We do not know where that man is today. Whether he got another job, we do not know. How he and his family took the public shaming, we don’t know and I don’t even know if we care. The social media has moved on, happy it taught Zomato a lesson. And the man too. Customer is important, his uncontrollable hunger wasn’t.
Cut to July 2019. When Pandit Amit Shukl tweeted that he had decided to cancel his order because Zomato had alloted a non-Hindu rider for his food.
“They said they can’t change rider and can’t refund on cancellation,” he tweeted.
Upon which, Zomato wrote : “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion”.
That was enough for many on social media to go “awww” with many calling it food for thought. It indeed is. Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal also tweeted saying “We are proud of the idea of India – and the diversity of our esteemed customers and partners. We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values.”
Praiseworthy that Zomato stood up to a bigot and did not change the rider. I only wish the Zomato management, despite the mistake its delivery man committed in December and the hurt it caused to the brand, had shown empathy. And a large heart. But you buckled under pressure from social media in December and overreacted by handing the Zomato man a pink slip. Your rider, like you have demonstrated now, is as important as your customer.