Sorry, no carnitas

Due to a shortage of “responsibly raised” pork, many Chipotle restaurants have been out of carnitas for quite some time. In fact, at their location near me, they have a sign prominently displayed on the outside door that reads “sorry, no carnitas.”

Now in the scheme of world problems this is hardly a crisis. And because I wasn’t in fact coming for the carnitas (what can I say, I was in more of a barbacoa mood that day) this had no direct effect on me.

But I thought about all those times I’ve stood in long lines at various establishments, or waited interminably for a salesperson to free up, only to eventually learn that they didn’t have what I’d come for. Sorry, you’ll have to choose something else. Or maybe you just want to come back? We’re expecting a new shipment on Tuesday.

And we’ve all been to the restaurant that is out of the menu item you just ordered from the waiter. Yes, we ARE known for our short-ribs, but the quinoa salad IS excellent tonight.

How about those times we queue up at some government office and when we finally reach the clerk we’re told we were in the wrong line to begin with? I’m sorry sir, but the line YOU want is over there.

Or all those instances we navigate our way through multiple levels of automated customer service only to discover there is no selection for the problem we are trying to solve and it’s impossible to get to a live agent. Press 5 for just shoot me.

Customer experience leaders, the brands that matter and endure, anticipate problems and try to resolve issues upstream. They head off disappointment at the pass.

Of course, they could take the attitude of simply getting you through the door and in the queue and then try to sell you on a compromise once they’ve sucked you in. But the smart one’s build trust by treating you with respect, valuing your time, giving you options and enabling a better choice.

That doesn’t always result in making a sale today. But I’m willing to bet it results in more sales over the long haul.

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