The Greatest Fast Food Experience Ever

I LOVE Chipotle.  Fresh food, always tastes great, local ingredients, friendly people, controlled chaos behind the counter.  I eat there 2-4 times/week, and have literally never had anything close to a bad experience.  Many have just been "to expectations".  It's tough to serve that many people, in a "fast food" restaurant, and deliver a consistently great experience, right?  However, today's was, truly, an Experience.  My best ever at a "fast food" restaurant.  Why the quotation marks?  Read on.
My schedule was packed today, and it looked like the only time to get my Chipotle on was going to be around 12:15-12:30pm; I knew they would be absolutely slammed at that time.  My mind flashed to the special parking space right in front of the door for customers who order via fax or online; I also remembered the special window inside where you can bypass the ordering line.  So, I decided to order online with them for the first time.  
Cool website!  My eye immediately went to "Look Out!  There's a Burrito in your iPhone!"  Fun.  Quick-click instructions on how to order if it's "your first time flying with Chipotle".  Interesting stories.  I feel cool.  Part of the tribe as Seth Godin would say.  Easy registration, very easy to order.  In and out of the site in less than 5 minutes.  Spectacular.  I'm hooked.  You had me at Click.  Gotta try the iPhone app next time.
Drove to pick it up, and, Yes!, my space was available.  Arrived about 12:35pm, ridiculously long line.  No worries, I get to go right to the window, where there's no line!  I feel special.  Superior.  Just a little guilty.  A friendly associate asks with a smile and a really sincere tone if she can help me.  I tell her I have an order to pickup.  "Are you Ron?"  Wow!  Well, yes, I am, and now I feel wanted! You care about me.  Where am I again?  She pulls my order, already prepared and in the bag, from something that looks like a dorm fridge, but is obviously used to keep it warm.  Another friendly, smiling, sincere person verifies my credit card payment (originally given when I ordered online), gives me a receipt and a smile, wishes me well, and tells me that she hopes I enjoy it and that she sees me again this weekend.  Though I'm very happily married, I can't resist, and promise to see her again this weekend.
Back at my desk, the order was still really warm and perfectly prepared with my custom requests.  Yummy.  I'm satisfied.  Truly.  After a couple meetings away from my desk, I check my cell phone and see a voice mail from an unknown number, left at 2:38pm.  I listen to a message from Jessica from Chipotle, who sounds very nice, like she actually cares whether my order turned out OK, and asks if I would please call her back to give some feedback.  How can I resist?
When I phone the store, Tori answers on the first ring, and actually sounds disappointed that Jessica isn't there to help me immediately.  She asks very politely if I can hold for just a minute, and then goes to find Jessica.  Less than a minute later, Jessica asks how everything was.  I'm gushing at this point; I can't possibly do this experience justice in the short time we'll have together on this call.  But I try.  She replies with an enthusiastic "awesome", and makes me feel like I've made her day.  She thanks me, and says how much she too hopes to see me again this weekend.  While I hate the thought of dividing my attention this weekend between these ladies, again, I can't resist, and promise to see Jessica again as well.  
"Fast food"?  Hardly.

A Great Quote

I read a great quote today from Seth Godin: "The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win."

Consumers Less Willing To Put Up With Poor Customer Service

American consumers are an ever-changing breed, and a smart businessman knows to stay ahead of them – or at least to keep up.  This year, according to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, consumer changes include being less willing to deal with customer service that they view as becoming worse.

This recently released report includes several undeniable trends and unsettling statistics regarding American consumers:

  • 60% believe businesses haven’t increased their focus on providing good customer service
  • 78% have ended a transaction or not made an intended purchase due to poor service
  • 70% are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service

Business News Daily analyzes the report in an article here (, pointing out that 56% of consumers admit to having lost their temper with a customer service professional. More than half of those surveyed have encountered customer service so frustrating that they asked for a supervisor or simply gave up. Giving up should not have to be an option for consumers or those dedicated to improving their customer service.

IntelliShop Study Finds San Diego Padres Have the Best Ticket Agents in Baseball

The San Diego Padres earned the title of having the best season ticket agents in baseball according to IntelliShop’s 2011 Major League Baseball Ticket Agent Study (MLBTS).  In this first-of-its-kind study, mystery shoppers made more than 500 season ticket inquiries around the league, and results show that the Padres’ agents consistently knocked it out of the park by providing top-notch customer handling and sales skills.

“The Padres agents did everything you want a great salesperson to do,” says Chris Denove, Senior Vice President of IntelliShop.  “They not only made the effort to tell fans about all the advantages of season ticket ownership, they did so in an engaging way that showed great personality and enthusiasm.”  

The Padres consistently scored near the top in over two dozen performance categories, including three important areas where they ranked higher than any other team:

  • Inviting callers to the stadium to view available seat locations
  • Explaining how season seats are discounted off face value
  • Building rapport through casual conversation not directly related to the sale

The study found that agents across the league were consistently polite and well prepared to answer questions.  There were, however, large differences in the amount of effort agents gave to proactively “sell” ticket packages.

“Whereas agents at top-rated teams make it a point to talk about the benefits of owning season tickets, many teams take a much more laidback sales approach,” said Denove.  “It’s not that these teams provided a bad telephone experience; it’s just that they served more as ‘order-takers’ rather than proactive salespeople.”

Ron Welty, President of IntelliShop, says, “As fans of the great game of baseball, with teams and fans still coming out of a deep recession, and with league-wide attendance down again this season, we hope that the results of this study will be beneficial to all teams.”

Denove expects that management at some teams will be disappointed that their salespeople aren’t being more aggressive.  He points out that if a fan lives in an apartment and drives a used car, a pair of season tickets may be the most expensive purchase they ever make.  

The following provides a few examples of traditional selling steps that agents failed to perform consistently:

  • Less than half (46%) of all agents collected the callers’ telephone number for follow up purposes
  • Less than one-fourth (22%) invited callers to come to the stadium to view available seat locations
  • Only one-third (32%) actually asked for the sale or deposit

IntelliShop will host a free webinar on June 2nd at 1:30 p.m. (EST) for all MLB teams to view the detailed study results.  For information about the study, or to contact Chris Denove directly, email, or call 877-894-6349.

ABOUT INTELLISHOP: IntelliShop is a national mystery shopping and customer experience measurement firm dedicated to helping clients understand and improve what happens at the moment-of-truth with their customers. IntelliShop offers mystery shopping evaluations, video mystery shopping, customer satisfaction research, analytics, brand audits, and employee incentive programs. IntelliShop selects from a panel of more than 410,000 evaluators to help companies measure and improve their customer experiences onsite, on the phone, and on the web.  For more information, call 877-894-6349 or visit

American Express Survey Reinforces Value of Mystery Shopping

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) May 11, 2011

The results of a survey released on May 3 by American Express clearly bode well for companies that conduct mystery shopping programs and act on them. The American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer quantifies the business benefits of good service and the penalties for poor service, providing more evidence in support of the value of implementing mystery shopping programs.

Good service is not just something Americans expect; it is something they are willing to pay for. American Express says seventy percent (70%) indicate they are willing to spend up to 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service, the survey showed.

According to the American Express study, Americans are placing more and more importance on the value of good customer service while, at the same time, they believe the quality of service is slipping. Moreover, says Jim Bush, Executive Vice President of American Express World Service, "Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it's a must do. American consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide outstanding service, and they will also tell, on average, twice as many people about bad service than they will about good service. Ultimately, great service can drive sales and customer loyalty."

A key finding from the American Express study reveals that 78% of customers have opted to cancel a transaction or did not complete an intended purchase because of a poor customer experience. Conversely, three in five Americans would try a new brand or company for a better services experience.

Members of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) are enthusiastic about the release of the American Express study because it demonstrates the requirement that businesses pay close attention to the level of service they deliver to their customers if they are to be successful. "We see the study as providing further support for the value of mystery shopping," says MSPA President Lynn Saladini of ath Power Consulting Corporation. "Mystery shopping enables businesses to measure the extent to which they are delivering on their brand promises through the customer experience and to identify and correct deficiencies. Using the statistics from the study, you can calculate that two otherwise identical businesses would have very different revenue pictures if one had excellent customer service and one did not. If the one lacking in excellent service was a $10 million dollar business, its identical competitor could have revenues of $10.93 million. That $930,000 revenue differential is a compelling argument for using mystery shopping to improve customer service."

About Mystery Shopping and the MSPA 
Mystery shopping is a process in which pre-recruited and qualified consumers measure the extent to which a customer's interactions with a business mirror the experiences the business intends. The purposes of this customer experience measurement include evaluating customer service and the degree to which a company's brand promises are being executed in the customer environment.

With more than 300 member companies worldwide, the MSPA has a diverse membership, including marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations, and other companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services. Its goals are to establish professional standards and ethics for the industry, educate providers, clients and shoppers to improve quality of service, improve the image of the industry and promote the membership to other industry associations and prospective clients.

About the Subject Study 
Details about the American Express study may be found at: