I have been a “raving fan” of Chipotle for years. I started following them several years before they opened a restaurant in my hometown. In fact, they opened two. One was two miles from my office and one is two miles from my home.
I was disappointed they didn’t let me know they were coming, after I had signed up on their website to be notified, but I forgave them. Unfortunately, that was a leading indicator of their weakness in customer relationship management.
Due to food allergies, and my love of Mexican food, I ate at Chipotle an average of five times a week for four years. The manager of the restaurant and I became good friends. I brought them at least 100 new customers during that time and would frequently hold lunch meetings at the restaurant. The manager nominated me for a Master Burrito Ambassadorship. When I received the call from the regional marketing manager, I urged her to let me know what I could do to help the company.
I bought stock in the company. I lost 30 pounds just eating burrito bowls. Chipotle was an integral part of my day.
Unfortunately, I never heard from the regional marketing manager. The manager with whom I became friends left. The manager of the restaurant near my home knows I’m a frequent customer but makes no attempt to establish a relationship.
I lost my job and FedExed my e-book on Consumer Insights, my resume and an insight interview from a “heavy user” to Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle. I told him my “dream job” would be doing consumer insight work for Chipotle. I never heard anything back from him, his admin, with whom I left several voicemail messages, or HR.
I now eat at the restaurant near my home once or twice a week. While I could still eat at Chipotle every day, I don’t feel like my business is appreciated and I’m not as committed to the restaurant as I once was. It’s sad. My brand loyalty is eroding and it’s not because I’m tired of the food.
Chipotle is hot. Their stock is doing great. However, I don’t care how successful you become, you shouldn’t forget about, or ignore, the raving fans that helped get you there.
If you having raving fans of your business, do everything you can to let them know you value their business, their loyalty, their insights and suggestions. If you implement an expensive CRM program, make sure it has some legs and is not just a one-time event.
Don’t let your loyal customers’ fire for you die. Most likely, those people are the 20% of your customers that are responsible for 80% of your revenue and 90% of your profit.
Hey Steve, if you’re not hiring for consumer insights, how about customer relationship management?