What It Means to Be Out of Harmony with Customers. A Lesson From Carl’s Jr.

 

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No, this is not a Carl’s Jr. veggie burger. Not even close. This is what a Veggie Burger Should Look Like.

My family decided on Carl’s Jr. for lunch. Fast food was the last thing I wanted, but I wanted to go with the flow with my kids. I quickly pulled up the Carl’s Jr menu on my iPhone and to my surprise and delight they have a veggie burger (I’m a vegetarian who eats vegan 99% of the time).

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On the website the Carl’s Jr. veggie burger looks delicious and they describe it this way:

Veg It.® – Guacamole Thickburger®

Feast on guacamole, Pepper Jack cheese and fresh fixings, all on a toasted sesame seed bun. The meat goes, but the flavor stays.

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This is perfect for me. I’ll simply hold the cheese and enjoy this flavorful veggie burger.

I’m the first to order. I order the Veg It, and please hold the cheese. The lady behind the counter says, “We don’t have any veggie burgers of any kind.” I tell her about the Veg It burger from the website. Again, she says they don’t have veggie burgers.

Ok, so I ask if they can make a veggie burger based on what I read on the website. I explain that the Carl’s Jr. Veg It has guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion and comes on a sesame seed bun. She sighs, looks like I am personally putting her out and takes my order. I’m delighted that I could at least request what I wanted and after my kids order, we take a seat and wait for our food.

To my chagrin, this is what I got. I open a burger container to see two large leaves of iceberg lettuce, a single tomato slice, and red onions that are less than fresh. On the side there is a plastic cup with guacamole. No bun is included, mind you.

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This is what they are calling the veggie burger. Wow. Um, wow. My neighbor’s rabbit would be disappointed in this meal. I was speechless. Actually, curse words ran through my mind. Were they really serious? I should have taken a picture of this thrown together mess. Instead, I closed up the carton and pushed it away.

I deliver a keynote I call “The Way of Harmony.” It’s about aligning an organization’s processes, people and products (or service) with the needs of customers.  When an organization is in harmony, the customer gets a delightful and memorable experience. When it’s out of harmony, customers are left disappointed and are at risk for defection and spreading negative word-of-mouth advertising.

Carl’s Jr. was out of harmony. The website listed a veggie burger, described it in a way that pleased my palate and even showed an image of a lush guacamole burger on the website. Yet, the store in Italy, Texas either had no idea that the company advertised the Veg It burger or didn’t care to make the burger.

Being out of harmony creates a frustrating negative experience for customers. It gets customers talking to their friends and family about the let down. It motivates people to tweet rants. It reduces the chances of customers coming back. Certainly, I’ll never return, not even for my kids.

Here’s a tip for any business that has a website, and that should be EVERY business. Make sure your actual product and service offerings are in harmony with what you advertise. When your advertisement is out of alignment with your actual offerings and experience, you confuse customers and send them running….to the competition.

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