My husband and I recently visited Chipotle to pick up a quick dinner on our way home. When we reached the counter to order — chicken burrito for him, chicken burrito bowl for her — they let us know that they were waiting on the chicken to finish cooking. We stepped to the side and waited to rejoin the line once it was ready.
Well, five minutes turned into 20. After some back and forth, we were finally invited back into the line about a half hour later. When we approached the cash register, food in hand, the employee thanked us for our patience and let us know that the meal was on them.
This situation was atypical on a few fronts, all of which support Chipotle’s goal of creating an exceptional customer experience:
Employees were empowered to make decisions. There was no call to a manager or corporate process to follow (at least not that we saw).
There were no stipulations. Our choices weren’t limited, and we weren’t asked to change our order.
They didn’t make excuses. Maybe there was a new employee manning the grill or maybe a piece of equipment was down, but employees didn’t try to explain away the situation. They simply admitted fault and took responsibility to make it right.
Walking away pleasantly surprised, I started thinking about the impact this situation had on my perception of the Chipotle brand. Brand is not a one-way communication — it’s a two-way dialogue that hinges on how customers and potential customers experience your product or service. Things won’t always go perfectly, but how you react and adapt to challenges can communicate your company’s true brand.
This interaction with Chipotle has turned me into a promoter, rather than just a passive consumer. And here I am blogging about the positive outcome rather than complaining or cataloging it a just another typical restaurant experience.
Is your interaction with your customers supporting your brand? Do things change when there’s a challenge? Maybe it’s time to revisit these questions — your brand could benefit from it.