For many years, Chipotle was soaring — adding 200 restaurants a year at one point — with a bright future ahead. The problem? Food integrity and customer service were taking a hit.
Niccol recognized this as soon as he took the reins. His solutions, while in some ways specific to Chipotle, lean on methods that any business should be leveraging. As a result, growing lines and wait times were cut, customers better understood the company’s approach to food integrity, and brand loyalty grew.
Here’s what Niccol did, in a nutshell:
- Trained staff to be customer-centric, regardless of the work they did. Managers were encouraged to ask customers for feedback — but so were frontline employees. They asked specific questions about the quality of the food, the service, the experience. And they took the feedback to heart, making changes that had ripple effects across the company.
- Leaned heavily on product integrity — and education. This was a two-pronged approach for Niccol. First, he encouraged culinary excellence, training his team to actually taste the food they made and make adjustments instead of going through the motions. Then, he educated customers on ingredients sourcing, explaining that seasonality affects flavor — and supply. The number one goal? Quality.
Niccol’s efforts redounded to the company’s benefit, boosting revenue by $2 billion over four years — a testament to the importance of these two simple techniques. And they’re not unique to Chipotle; these methods work for any company in any industry.
So what are the benefits?
- You create service-oriented business that inspires loyalty. According to Microsoft, 90% of Americans consider customer service as a factor in decided whether or not to do business with a company. If you know how to treat a customer — and give them the opportunity to share their thoughts, opinions, and preferences — you win repeat business.
- You make your product(s) the best on the market instead of spreading yourself too thin on new product development. Offering quality says you care about giving your customers the very best; offering quantity (to the detriment of quality) says you want to make more money.
None of this is rocket science, but in this day and age, it’s easy to get caught up in advertising campaigns, side projects, shiny new tech, and internal reorgs. Successful business –and growing profits — really just come down to two questions: Are you putting the customer first in everything you do, and are you making the best possible product you can?