A Brand’s @Foursquare Mishap

**Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a bash session on Chipotle. I am a total brand advocate and probably eat Chipotle a little more than I should… 🙂 **

As a social media professional I feel one the brand’s top priorities should be to surprise and delight their social media community. Normally Chipotle is great at doing this as evidenced through their Twitter handle and Facebook page. Unfortunately, this is a story of no such surprise and delight.

Sunday is Chipotle day at my house. Almost every Sunday I hit the local Chipotle for some Mexican food awesomeness. I usually get a burrito bol with chips and salsa. Per usual, on a recent Sunday I made my trek.

Source: chipotle.com

As I walked in the doors I checked in on Foursquare while being greeted by the sweet aroma of cilantro. Little did I know, this was going to be a Sunday to remember thanks for a Foursquare special. It was a simple check-in special for free chips and salsa with the purchase of an entree. BOOM! I was stoked for some free chips and salsa. Thanks to a simple Foursquare special (at minimal cost to the brand) they had surprised and delighted me. I was already thinking about what my tweet and Facebook status would be once I got my free chips and salsa.

Who doesn't love free chips and salsa?

As I walked through the line and added brown rice, green salsa, corn salsa, cheese and lettuce to my burrito bol I was actually excited to show the cashier my iPhone with the offer. When I got to the end of the line the cashier asked me if I needed anything else. With a big smile on my face, I told her I needed chips and green salsa because I checked-in on Foursquare and wanted to redeem the check-in special. Her response, “Huh? I don’t know what you’re talking about. What’s Foursquare?” No more surprise and delight…

I explained what Foursquare was and showed her my phone with the special’s description. She told me to hold on for a minute while she went to get her manager. Her manager returned and didn’t know anything about the special or what Foursquare was either. Surprise and delight further crushed…

The manager was nice enough to honor the coupon and she then instructed the cashier to input the sale as a “comped chips and salsa”, therefore not entering the data that the chips and salsa were given due to the Foursquare promotion.

My Takeaways

I’m really excited to see Chipotle using Foursquare to add real value for users. Many times Foursquare specials require multiple visits to redeem, which don’t end up driving return traffic because they are often forgotten. I was also happy to redeem the coupon so easily through Foursquare. An instant reward for an instant action.

Unfortunately, the execution was lacking internally. Having worked with franchisees I understand communication can be difficult, but it seemed to be non-existent. I was still able to redeem the coupon, but I felt like I was inconveniencing everyone else in line because I had to make the cashier leave her station to get the manager. Furthermore, due to the lack of internal comm the deal wasn’t correctly entered into their point of sale system, making it impossible to show the redeemed number coupons for the initiative.

Once again, I don’t want this to be a tirade on Chipotle. I definitely think they are a forward thinking brand, and are doing the right things in the social space. However, examples like this show us all the importance of thinking through the entire process from strategy to execution.

I hope Chipotle will continue to offer deals like this, because they definitely will get to me, and other consumers, to come back more often. Have you experienced similar Foursquare specials mishaps?

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About Andrew_ShipPR
I am a communications professional with a track record of proven success as a social media strategist and social media community manager. When I'm not working I love to play golf, run and go out to dinner.

6 Responses to A Brand’s @Foursquare Mishap

  1. Stephanie says:

    Something similar happened to me here in Alabama. I checked in on Yelp and got an offer for two free appetizers with purchase. The waiter didn’t know what Yelp was and said he’d have to get the manager. The manager then tried to tell me that he meant to take off the offer because he wanted to use foursquare exclusively. After a little light pushing I got him to honor the coupon anyway. Two months later the offer is still shows up with a check-in. I’ve been tempted to demand the free appetizers again but I’ve just let it go. I eat there too much.

  2. That’s frustrating, but I’m glad to hear they honored the coupon. Thanks for sharing Steph.

  3. Amanda says:

    Sadly, this has happened to me MANY MANY MANY times. In fact it happened yesterday to me at Macy’s. It was a foursquare checkin coupon for 10-15% off my purchase..showed the cashier she was clueless. Then again at Tumbleweed for a free desert…my waitress had to get the manager to come over and figure it out…Again and Topper’s Pizza…I don’t know if corporate headquarters are creating these and not communicating them effectively with their branches or what but it’s sad. I told the girl yesterday, “Don’t feel bad. Every time I’ve used a foursquare coupon they never knew about it or bring me the manager.”

  4. Thanks for the comment Amanda. I think there is an overall lack of internal communication. As I mentioned in the post this is especially true in restaurant chains that are franchise owned. Hopefully, these companies will start to empower internal champions to elevate the importance of social initiatives to help with these customer service issues.

  5. Hopefully, your experience will prompt the manager to seek out more information about what offers they’re supposed to honor and the proper protocol for each.

    You may want to reconsider abbreviating Point Of Sale above. There’s a much nastier use of that acronym for people who don’t like a certain system.

    • Good point Brent, I hope the manager does seek more info. I am also happy to report Chipotle’s twitter handle responded to me and said they were reaching out to the location.

      Good call on “POS” as well, I edited 🙂

      Thanks for reading and appreciate the comments. Have a great weekend.

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