Nicholas Ortolani arrived at Pagliacci in 2014 looking for a part-time evening job. He’d taken some time off from a stressful management job, and the evening hours fit his schedule. His customer service background made him a natural for Pagliacci’s Phone Center, and customers took to him right away. When the GM position opened up three years later, he threw his name into the hat and after several rounds of interviews was hired for the job.
“I enjoy helping customers with problems, concerns, or dilemmas,” Nicholas says. “I look at it as a puzzle to solve. The ability to fit the pieces together to create success for the customer is something I enjoy every day.”
Everyone at Pagliacci knew Nicholas excelled at customer service. Still, few anticipated the degree of transformation he would bring to the Phone Center--so much that we renamed his department the Customer Service Center.
“Nicholas brings a wonderful positive vibe to Pagliacci,” says Pagliacci co-owner Matt Galvin. “He enthusiastically embraces opportunities to expand the influence and capacity of his department. His team now manages screening interviews for all locations, provides IT support, handles employee anniversary and birthday gifts, plus the traditional role of taking calls and supporting the locations.”
In short, Pagliacci’s Customer Service Center has become a vibrant hub of support for the company’s locations. Their goal is the same as it always was: to provide the best customer service in the city. But the scope of how they make that happen has expanded vastly.
“The result of all the changes is an improved customer experience across the board,” Nicholas says. “Our behind-the-scenes support ranges across every aspect of operations, from ensuring each store has enough drivers on hand to handle orders, to making sure printers in the stores are working. We help the stores operate more efficiently, all of which benefits the customer.”
Pagliacci’s Phone Center started 28 years ago as a one-person operation, . armed with a Rolodex and three phones in an itty-bitty room. As the company grew due in large part to the quality of its pizza and the strength of its customer service, the Phone Center grew to more than 40 customer service representatives answering phones on a Friday night. Over the last decade, changing technology—online ordering and, more recently, the Pagliacci App—has changed the way people order. With fewer phone calls coming in, Nicholas worked ambitiously to transform what his team could do. “As things arise that need support, I just kept saying yes,” Nicholas says. “So now we are involved in many aspects of Pagliacci, providing support in whatever fashion that is. We’re triage and support for all things Pagliacci.”
When Covid-19 hit in March, no one knew what to expect. As people turned to ordering food, Pagliacci was well-positioned to serve that desire. The Pagliacci App and online orders increased, but so did the phone orders . “Not everyone wants to deal with a digital app or an online page,” Nicholas says. “I think that’s something that makes us special, particularly right now. Many delivery companies are only using email to communicate with customers. With DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats, you can eventually talk to a person, but you have to jump through many hoops to get there. Our phone number is front and center. With Covid concerns, and customers not sure what to do when they show up for a pick-up order, or how non-contact delivery works, there is some comfort, especially right now, in being able to pick up the phone and connect with someone who is going to help them out.”
While Nicholas has been busy dealing with all the changes, he still finds time to play soccer, a sport he played in college. And somehow, he is also making time to help solve homelessness by working with the Third Door Coalition. “When I moved to Seattle in 2011, the company I was supposed to work for and my housing fell through, and I wound up homeless living in my car for about six months,” Nicholas says. “What Seattle has done for me is sensational. I was able to get affordable housing, I was able to get free electricity for a while, and other benefits like fees waived, credit issues removed—all types of support. It’s why I’ve stayed. And I want to give back to the city that supported me when I needed it. Since Matt Galvin is involved with the Third Door Coalition, it was the perfect formula for me to use my skill set to help fix something and ultimately help someone going through what I went through. One of Pagliacci’s core values is to do the right thing. For me personally, working to help cure homelessness in Seattle is an extension of that value.”
Michelle Galvin, CSO of Pagliacci, says, “Nicholas has a very caring nature—he advocates for his employees passionately and always does right by them. He also applies this to our customers. No matter how minor the issue, he puts taking care of the customer front and center.”