- By Jesse Linklater
How does California Pizza Kitchen use social media and online reviews to connect with customers as customer service? How could they improve what they are doing? Restaurant chain California Pizza Kitchen, also known as CPK, has locations in 13 countries with a significant proportion of its restaurants located in the brand’s home country; 30 states in the US have at least one CPK restaurant. You can also find CPK products in supermarkets and down-sized versions of CPK restaurants in airports and stadiums. With customers not only reviewing and asking for information on the regular-sized locations but making queries concerning the supermarket-bought products and catering service, CPK should be super-organized when it comes to using social media if it wants a good, overall standard of customer service.
Should You Split Your Trades?
CPK has two websites. One is dedicated to its products in grocery stores whilst the other focuses on the restaurants and catering service. Both feature links to the same Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube accounts rather than having separate social media channels that deal solely with each website’s different purposes.
California Pizza Kitchen’s Reviews
Many branches, especially those in the US, are reviewed on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. For the few locations that use either site to respond to customer feedback, Yelp appears to be the most popular. The branches on Third Street, San Francisco, Bay Street, Emeryville and Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara are examples of this.
Not one location uses TripAdvisor but all respond to positive and negative feedback via Yelp on occasion. All branches appear to share the same business manager who deals with tending to customer service on Yelp. Perhaps this explains why customers tend to favour Yelp over TripAdvisor when leaving reviews for CPK (even though many restaurant chains use TripAdvisor over Yelp). At time of writing, the aforementioned Santa Clara branch had over 400 reviews on Yelp and under 30 on TripAdvisor.
California Pizza Kitchen’s Pinterest Presence
CPK has a very active Pinterest account that various other restaurant chains should take a look to see how it is done. The subjects of its boards range from food bloggers’ recipes aiming to replicate CPK’s own dishes to “cute sayings” to fashion. Yes – even though CPK is hardly linked to fashion, it has a board recommending clothes for women. The account has over 1000 pins and almost 50 boards besides having a following of over 3000.
There is a tendency for CPK to include posts, tweets, boards etc that have a humanitarian bent for every couple of the more commercial or quirky updates the company posts.
CPK has an entire section on its Tumblr account dedicated to inspiring acts made by the company itself and CPK employees. The page documents the restaurant chain’s donations to a selection of charities, fundraising activities ran by employees and details of ways the company tries to thank its customers.
You can see one of them below. During the month of June 2013, CPK handed out “Thank You Cards” to visiting guests which entitled the customer to claim a surprise gift the next time they made a purchase at CPK’s. One of these surprise gifts was a $1000 voucher to spend at Tiffany’s.
California Pizza Kitchen’s Facebook
This philanthropic theme is continued in the company’s Facebook posts although they are, as you would expect, outweighed by the purely promotional, predictable posts that have the sole purpose of informing customers of limited edition flavours and what not. Interestingly, the posts that receive a significant amount of likes are the posts that detail when a new flavour is due out or are related to CPK dishes.
These posts often just fall short of getting 200 likes whereas posts that focus on more serious, emotional topics usually receive under 100. However, a post asking customers to spot the difference between two images of pizza amassed over 1000 likes. CPK’s Twitter account has almost identical content as its Facebook account. The biggest difference is that CPK can communicate to more customers in real-time when using Twitter which, as you can see below, comes in handy when customers need help when applying to competitions.
CPK never fails to mention its other social media channels whether a customer is browsing through its website, Facebook or one of the many other social channels the restaurant chain is on. CPK is on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Tumblr and YouTube and keeps pretty active on all of them. The least active are its Tumblr and YouTube accounts which document the company’s good deeds such as donations it has made to charity or its employees’ accomplishments.