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Social Media Done Right: Qdoba Mexican Grill

My name is Erica Finley, and I’m addicted to Qdoba.

I’m not going to lie, I was afraid to try it at first. But ever since our first blind date in college, it’s been a love affair of epic proportions. I’d probably ask for their nachos as my last meal on my deathbed, and I have converted many non-believers into die-hard fans of the Colorado-based restaurant.

And then one day everything changed.

On a seemingly ordinary visit to the Royal Oak location, I ordered my chicken 3-Cheese Nachos, just as I have during my past trips to the famous Mexican grill. But instead of ladling the queso goodness into the bowl as they always have, the staff member put it in a tiny cup typically reserved for guacamole, put the tortilla chips in the bowl, and proceeded to pile the chicken and shredded cheese on top of the chips.

My deer-in-headlights reaction was reflexive and impossible to hide. I felt betrayed. How could my beloved Qdoba so callously change one of their signature dishes, the very reason I became so loyal in the first place?

For those without the inside scoop, there have always been two ways to order your nachos: chips on the side, with all of your ingredients in a separate bowl (i.e. the right way), or the all-in-one approach, with the queso, salsa, meat and other toppings poured over the top. I had always rejected this option, as it is more difficult to eat and results in soggy chips.

But this new set-up was a violation of both options. I easily got less than half of the queso that I typically did, and it required me to dip a chip covered in chicken and shredded cheese into a tiny cup of melted cheese. It was a mess.

I immediately but politely questioned the new method. The manager apologized profusely and said he had already experienced a backlash from other customers. He said it was a corporate decision to construct them differently, and his hands were tied.

And so I did what any social media enthusiast would do – I turned to Twitter for help.

I was already following @QdobaMexGrill and knew the staff member who manages the account was Doug. So I tweeted my plea, complete with a Twitpic of my meal for evidence:

Doug responded less than two hours later, at almost 10 p.m.

To which I responded:

Doug responded to my tweet with a direct message. Note the time: 11:49 p.m.

My response:

I had also taken to the Qdoba corporate Facebook page to express my frustrations in a tongue-in-cheek, but to-the-point “letter” to Qdoba.

It was there that Doug kept me updated on the progress of the issue. On December 4, I was told that he had forwarded my issue to the Operations Team, who would determine how to address the problem. Then on December 9, I was informed that a communication was sent to all of the Michigan restaurants the week prior, instructing stores to continue honoring “chips on the side,” at the request of its guests.

On December 12, I decided to test the Royal Oak location. I was skeptical. What if they hadn’t gotten the memo?

Lo and behold, it was back to business as usual, and the glorious meal I had grown to know and love was mine once more. I tweeted to Doug about my enthusiasm:

Just a few short hours later, a response.

It was definitely in the company’s best interests to resolve my issue. Losing me as a brand ambassador would mean lost revenue, not to mention the damage that might be done by word-of-mouth both online and off if I shared my story.

But they didn’t have to help me. And they did. Which means they get it. They understand the tremendous customer service power that Twitter houses, and how providing value to followers on the site helps build the Qdoba brand. Just one of many shining examples of a company using social media to get things done.

Follow Qdoba Mexican Grill on Twitter @QdobaMexGrill.

10 responses to "Social Media Done Right: Qdoba Mexican Grill"

  1. Nikki Stephan Jan 12, 2010 at 13:10

    Wow, this is an awesome example of how a company is using social media for customer service purposes! AND, it’s a company other than the usual ones we hear about – Zappos, Dell, Southwest Airlines, Comcast, etc. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. Erica Finley Jan 12, 2010 at 14:35

    Thanks for the feedback, Nikki! It’s funny, because I was almost afraid to engage with Qdoba via social media with my complaint – I knew I’d be heartbroken if one of my favorite restaurants failed to take me seriously in that space.

    Thank goodness I was pleasantly surprised :)

  3. Tim Jan 12, 2010 at 16:56

    I have been 100% skeptical in setting up a Twitter account…. Now, just because of this blog, I think I just may. This is amazing customer support! Thanks for the knowledge!! =)

  4. Erica Finley Jan 12, 2010 at 17:10

    Tim, I am so happy to hear you say that! I think you’ll find Twitter useful beyond your wildest imagination — keep me posted :)

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  6. Ashley Jan 14, 2010 at 14:16

    I think that social media is the best way for corporations to gauge whether or not they can get away with downsizing the customer, in a cynical way?. Queso getting expensive? Well, half it and see if anyone complains on Twitter, Facebook, or blogs. If more companies did this, and then publicized their interactions with clients like yourself, I think it’d be genius.

    Great post, Erica.

  7. Erica Finley Jan 15, 2010 at 11:29

    Ashley, that was actually the first theory that was tossed around when this first went down — well, they must be doing this to save money. And maybe that wasn’t their intent, I’m not sure, but the point is I had no idea what had happened, and I wanted an answer — and fast.

    I encouraged Qdoba’s Doug to share my story with his co-workers to really illustrate the idea that social media isn’t about dinking around on the computer all day. It’s about real results that turn fans of your product or service into die-hards.

    Thanks for the comment!

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