One Burrito and Two Observations

Blog /One Burrito and Two Observations
NTT DATA Services CX burrito

My wife and I live in Texas. We’ve been here for 22 and 27 years, respectively. So I think I can say that we both know Tex-Mex and Mexican food pretty well. Mexican food is to Dallas what Italian food is to New York City. You can’t walk more than one block in NYC without seeing an Italian restaurant.

To give you some idea about the Mexican food situation in Dallas, if you google “Mexican restaurants in DFW,” you get 3,020,000 hits. (I thought the 20,000 on the end was a bit of overkill.) My point is that there’s a LOT of competition for good Mexican food here.

Which brings me to Chipotle. I know Chipotle has its haters, but we really like the food. I’m not deluded enough to think it’s healthy. I’m not paranoid enough to think it’ll kill me. And for me, the flavor profile of the menu is very carnivore friendly, so I enjoy it. As many of us of the male persuasion love meaty dishes, I’ve even coined a term for the type of restaurant that has meat-heavy offerings. Up there on the wall. It’s a man-u. You’ll use the term later. You know you will.

Oh — right — back to Chipotle. Even though I really enjoy the food, there’s one thing that drives me absolutely nuts when I go there. This will only make sense to those of you that have dined therein. (And to be fair, in the last five times I’ve been in a Chipotle, they’ve used four different systems, but I’ll try to explain what I usually see.) After you enter the restaurant, you line up and slowly work yourself up to the front of the line at the counter. You say (as an example) “Chicken burrito – extra chicken.” Because that’s all they want to know at that point.

The tortilla-griller (not their official title), then throws a tortilla on the modified shirt-starching machine and heats one up. When it’s been there for about 15 or 20 seconds, they pull it out and place it on foil, put meat on it (two scoops in this case), and pass it to the employee on their left and pretend that you have instantly dematerialized.

The not-tortilla-griller then asks “What kind of rice?” You answer, and the process gets repeated again for beans. Then they pass the proto-burrito to the next person on their left.

Not-tortilla-griller-two then goes through an ingredient interrogation with you about salsa and sour cream, then passes it to the next person to their left, and etc. In general, between three and six people then assemble the burrito before it gets to the cashier, where you pay, collect your food and walk out.

Oh! And Lord help you if you are getting food for two or three other people, too. Because you’ll be simultaneously dealing with up to five employees. It’s like being the Good Humor Man on a hot day.

So what’s my issue? Well, because nothing gets written down during this process, I have to repeat myself several times (e.g. “No sour cream.” “No salsa.” “Can I get some sliced limes, please?”), as people move in and out, back and forth in the Not-Tortilla-Griller (NTG) positions. And when I get to the cashier, only by my personal values and my own honor code, has the cashier rung up my extra chicken on the burrito. Because that info was usually lost about three people back in the assembly line.

Okay — I know this is already too long. What’s my point and how is it relevant to digital today?

My point is simple: Too many handoffs in customer service experiences and processes make for annoyed customers that will look for an alternative. The best customer service experiences have NO handoffs, take far less time, require no repetitive questions and make for much happier customers.

That goes for customer service functions on the phone, in person and on digital apps.

With all that said, I must point out that I never get frustrated or annoyed or act out at Chipotle. I have been through the process enough times that I KNOW it’ll be bad. But I do charge a napkin tax based on how bad my visit was. If there weren’t many stumbles, I’ll get two or three napkins. If it was really bad, Chipotle is handling my napkin needs for the week. I don’t get mad. I get non-food items.

Post Date: 11/6/2017

Brad Rucker - NTT DATA Brad Rucker

About the author

In 1981, Mr. Rucker spent his entire monthly salary on a TRS-80 Color Computer, taught himself to code and never looked back. Since then he has been a programmer, DBA, system designer, project manager, CIO, CTO and COO. Currently he serves as SVP of the Digital Applications & Information Management Practices at NTT DATA Services.