In Crisis Management, Public Relations

Closed signFirst Chipotle made their customers sick.  Now they’re making this crisis communicator sick.

Why, oh why, are they not communicating a more customer-centric reason for their planned shut-down on Feb. 8?  Why would they NOT position it as an aggressive act to demonstrate that they put their customers’ health first?  Why would they not want to use this dramatic act as a way to make it clear they’ve taken their customers’ concerns serious and are taking drastic action to fix the problem?

What little I’ve read (including their anemic Facebook post  – “We’re having a national employee meeting on Monday, February 8 to thank everybody for their hard work through this difficult time, discuss recent food safety changes, and talk about additional steps we’re taking for the future…) positions the store closings as something they are backing into.  It’s not even mentioned on their website.

Chipotle should be taking a clue from the infamous Starbucks system-wide closing in 2008. On that day 7,100 US locations closed down to re-energize the company’s 135,000 employees and to provide some barista re-education in the “art of espresso.” In a memo to employees and the public, Starbuck Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz, said the goal of the closure was to improve the so-called “Starbucks Experience”   He wrote: “We are passionate about our coffee. And we will revisit our standards of quality that are the foundation for the trust that our customers have in our coffee and in all of us.”

Now Chipotle, doesn’t that sound a whole lot more customer-centric than “oh, darn, guess we should close and talk about this’”?

Now, my stomach hurts.

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