For Chipotle Employees, Pay Will Now Be Tied to Customer Service

Back in December, Chipotle CEO Steve Ells admitted the company was underperforming in customer service and vowed to improve in the coming year. Now the CEO is making good on his promise by implementing a new compensation system for its employees. Moving forward, employees will be paid based on how effectively they deliver customer service, Ells said during an earnings conference call last Thursday.

In the past, employees were evaluated and considered for rewards based on their performance against 27 criteria, which were not directly tied to customer service. Now, most of the criteria has been whittled down to only five key elements, three of which are directly related to customer service.

Chipotle isn’t the first company to connect customer service to compensation—similar structures are in place in the retail environment, and even companies like Microsoft reward employees when great customer service is delivered. However, the move is somewhat controversial in this case because fast food workers typically do not earn very high wages, and quick-service restaurants experiences a significant amount of employee turnover. Still, Ells is adamant about giving it a shot.

“We’re focused on delivering a safe and extraordinary guest experience in every restaurant, restoring trust and building sales, restoring our economic model, and enhancing the guest experience through innovation,” Ells said in a statement. Chipotle also plans to add $2 million worth of labor to its stores to ensure that employees are not overwhelmed, CNBC reported.

Chipotle plans to make other changes as well, including making improvements to its digital ordering system and updating the way digital orders are fulfilled in stores, Ellis said in a statement:

“Nearly all of our restaurants have a second make-line in the back of the restaurant where we fulfill digital, fax, and catering orders. By optimizing the use and design of these second make-lines, we envision a time when digital ordering could account for a much larger percentage of sales than the 6 percent it represents today. Maximizing our digital sales requires changes both to the second make-line itself and to the ways by which our customers place digital orders. The new line incorporates an advanced queuing system that takes advantage of a heads-up digital display, which allows our crews to assemble orders without distraction.”

Additionally, Chipotle plans to make some changes to its menu, adding new items such as dessert, to entice customers back. The company is also toying around with the idea of raising prices to make up for growing food and labor costs. If this does occur, the increase wouldn’t be very high, according to Ells.

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