- Log onto Otlob.com and choose your country: Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, or Bahrain.
- Register for a free account and enter your e-mail, phone, and delivery addresses (home, office, etc.)
- Choose the area of the city you are in.
- Choose from among the list of restaurants or food types.
- Click the menu items you want added to your shopping cart. Order from one restaurant or several different places at the same time.
- Choose your delivery location.
- Select your delivery time (order now or several hours from now).
- Click "place order".
It's that easy. The guys at Otlob take it from there. Once they receive your order, they phone it in to the restaurant and then send you a confirmation e-mail. Immediately after you receive the confirmation e-mail, a countdown timer begins on the Otlob order screen telling you to expect your delivery in 45 minutes (sometimes less).
I have to admit I was slightly skeptical at first, after all this is Egypt - everything takes notoriuosly long. Twice as long where food is concerned. The first time I ordered something, Chilis to be exact, I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived with 4 minutes to spare. Surely I won't be that lucky next time I told myself. But the next time the food also arrived with several minutes to spare on the countdown timer. Thinking that this, once again, must be a fluke I busied myself over the next several months trying to beat Otlob at their own game. I ordered large quanities, well done steaks, complicated the orders (no butter, no seasoning, dressing on the side) - all to no avail. Otlob deliveries arrived on time each and every time. Even more surprising was the fact that I could order a hot fudge sundae from McDonalds and it would arrive completely intact and unmelted. Amazing.
So what is so great about Otlob. Two words: CUSTOMER SERVICE. When you think of customer service in Egypt it is easy to get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, the one that is usually followed by the words "insha'allah bokra ma'alish". Or getting told to go to yet another window and speak to someone who will be three times more annoyed to see you than the guys at the first 17 windows were. Or placed on hold for the umpteenth time then transferred to someone else who has absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Or going to the bank only to find out that you have to come back in one hour because everyone goes to their lunch break at the same time. But seriously, Otlob customer service rocks.
A few weeks ago my husband was travelling out of the country. I placed an order on Otlob and waited for the countdown timer to begin. After about 7 minutes it still had not started. Our Otlob account is set up with my husband's email and mobile number. I knew if there was any problem with the order and Otlob was trying to call, they would be unable to get through on my husband's phone since it was out of the country code. I was also having trouble accessing my husband's email account. So now I was kind of screwed. I went back to the Otlob page and clicked on the Online Support. Instantly a chat box popped up. "Hi this is Ahmed from Otlob customer service. How can I help you?"
I explained my situation and gave him my 8 digit order number. "Oh yes," he replied instantly, "we've been trying to call you - the restaurant is out of spaghetti bolognese."
"Ok well cancel that order then," I told him. "I will order from somewhere else."
He immediately confirmed it was cancelled. I went back to the menu page and decided to go with one of my usual favorites from Euro Deli. I placed the order and then went back to the chat box to see if Ahmed was still online. Surprisingly he was. I informed him I had placed the new order. "Please stay on the line with me while we call this into the restaurant," he told me. About 30 seconds later he came back online. "Euro Deli is out of chocolate cheesecake but they have blueberry," he informed me. "OK then," I replied, "make it blueberry."
After another minute he reappeared and informed me my order was placed and confirmed. "Enjoy your meal," he told me signing off.
Now that's what I call customer service! Seriously, why can't these guys running Otlob all go work at the Mugamma Building or the post office. Wouldn't that be too good to be true?
EDIT May 6, 2009: It has come to my attention through tracking statistics on my website that this article is possibly getting considerable attention by OTLOB employees. I recently noticed a link back to this blog post appearing on an OTLOB employees intranet page. I just wanted to go on record and say that the name "Ahmed" I used in the article was not the real name of the actual OTLOB employee who assisted me during my recent contact with customer service. However, that does by no means, change the positive experience I had. At the time of writing the article, I just decided to change the name of the employee for artistic reasons and to protect the employee's privacy. But now in light of this recent information, I don't want the wrong employee to get credit for the call. In my opinion, OTLOB still has the best customer service - no matter which employee takes the call.