Don’t Leave Customers Hungry or Ruin Their App-etite

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The iPhone and Android now have over 700,000 apps available for download, and with Google’s 120,000, mobile apps total more than 1.5 million. Companies today need to see apps as an absolute must to keep users connected to their brands on the go, with the right functionality. Chipotle Mexican Grill committed a huge mobility faux pas by not updating their app in four years, which left customers with empty stomachs. Checking the box by having a branded app won’t cut it anymore; users need a reason to keep coming back for more.

Stale Food

Apps are important to a company’s mobility strategy, but they should just be the front-end of a deeper system. Chipotle’s app sat on home screens collecting virtual dust, and shows how a bad mobile strategy can make a company appear “out of touch.” Before its recent update, Chipotle’s mobile app did not work on most new devices, was not updated to feature new locations, and did not even have appropriate menu options.

The app was not integrated with anything, much less the company’s back-end. Chipotle’s app became a customer-facing demonstration of checking the app box, but actually provided a bad user experience that detracted from the brand. With an app that works, is frequently updated, tailored to the customer and integrated with the company, customers can access real-time information anywhere, receive promotions and discounts before walking out the door, as well as stay engaged with a company at will.

Connecting Mobile and Social

Today, with Chipotle’s app, customers can order customized food from their mobile phone at a nearby location and pay through the app.  The app saves recent orders, favorite orders, and billing information through a log-in shared across their website and app.

This is a good start, but imagine what Chipotle could do if they started integrating all their back-end systems with the app. What if Chipotle also integrated social media as Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare so customers could find friends to share their meal, and easily profess their love for Chipotle’s food at the moment they are happiest with the brand.

Now with social media usernames linked to customer profiles, Chipotle could actually act on criticism from social media to improve stores or make personal offers to loyal customers who are currently unhappy. This definitely would have been helpful in the past four years. With loyalty integrated with the app, Chipotle could track and reward customer engagement across all touch points, mobile, social, web, and purchases. Personal interaction and integration with social tools is how brands turn occasional customers into loyal fans, and fans into brand advocates.

Your Order is Ready

Nobody likes to get the last scrapings of cold meat when cooks are in the back making a fresh batch. What if Chipotle gave customers real-time updates, by store, for what is being cooked fresh right now? Also, if a store knew they were looking at wasted perishable inventory (let’s say no one bought chicken today), the back-end could send offers for 50% off to the customers who frequently buy chicken burritos from that store.

Updating the app to work again on the new generation of devices is great, but going a step further and integrating back-end systems so the business can transform their customer experience will keep bellies full and customers coming back for more.

By the way, I just downloaded the Chipotle app, and in the time it took to read the last few sentences, I just ordered my lunch. Integrating systems can be just as seamless.

Read more on how to avoid common integration pitfalls with this white paper.

*This story was co-authored by Kenan Frager.