Chipotle Reinvention: Rebuilding Customer Trust after Crisis

Jan 9, 2018engagement

Espey has been integral to the brand since nearly the beginning, so naturally, we had some questions. At the top of our list: what is the best course of action to repair the brand damage caused by a serious negative event? During the luncheon, Espey will discuss how Chipotle has worked to rebuild consumer trust and why that should never be overlooked.

“It’s all a part of this process in looking into what we have and where we are,” Espey told AMA Houston. “We need to focus on the customer’s experience in the restaurant now.”

Chipotle is working to rebuild customer trust, which is something Espey said was waning even before the outbreak with variable customer experiences that reflected in sales. To do this, the company is working to revolutionize the way they serve wholesome ingredients at a large scale and reaffirm their mission. So the halt in business, according to Espey, may have been a good thing.

“We were growing at an incredible pace we couldn’t keep up with,” Espey said. “The foundational part of creating an outstanding experience in the restaurant is gaining the customer trust. 90 percent of a brand personality is the customer experience. When you don’t have that, as marketers your job then is to figure out how to reconnect with your customers.”

How does the company plan to do that? Espey compares the Chipotle-customer experience to a marriage: How would you fix your relationship with your significant other if you had done something devastating? According to Espey, you don’t throw free burritos at them, which is what the restaurant initially did to get customers back through their doors. When that failed, pressure from investors increased.

“We tried too quickly to get people back into restaurants, but then we were just driving them to a marginal restaurant experience at best, and this was desperation,” Espey said. “When investors want marketers to focus on short-term results, as marketers, you need to assuage their desire by showing them that good marketing drives sales.“

In a crisis, Espey encourages marketers to focus on the more tangible parts of the brand, infuse everything with that brand dialogue and make sure at the end of the day it is doing its part to drive sales. But above all, make things right before they go wrong.

Join AMA Houston Wednesday, January 10, when William Espey will give you a more detailed look at what went wrong, and more importantly, how he plans to rebuild customer trust after crisis.

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