This CEO Sucks Less: John Pepper of Boloco

Lest we leave you unable to eat food at all, we present this letter from John Pepper, the CEO of Boston’s Boloco restaurants (formerly ‘The Wrap’), which is the very model of how to handle a customer complaint, even when a company isn’t going to be able to address the specific complaint. It was sent to us by the pleased recipient.

The tone of the email is so foreign. It’s almost like Mr. Pepper is speaking to… a human.

Read it all after the jump.

—–Original Message—–
From: John Pepper []
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 8:31 PM
To: Ben
Subject: RE: customer response


First of all, thanks for your note. We always appreciate hearing from customers… even if we’ve done something that doesn’t make them happy, it helps us a great deal.

We worried a lot about Roasted Veggies and what the reaction would be. The reason they disappeared in the first place is because so few people actually ordered them, and the amount of prep time and waste (because they’d sit too long and we’d have to throw them out) stopped justifying keeping them on the menu years ago… but because of the few, and outspoken, customers who lived on them, we kept them in place. You are now the 7th person that has written about this loss since we took them off three months ago (not including a handful of our employees who are also quite upset).

From a purely business standpoint, it didn’t make any sense to keep the Roasted Veggies. From a customer loyalty standpoint, however, your note (and the others like it) makes me want to get them back on the menu tomorrow! The challenge we always have is balancing the two… you would be amazed at the number of requests we get on a weekly basis from our customers
– obviously, we can’t accommodate everyone, but we do listen to everyone, and consider what they say carefully.

I don’t know how this will turn out in the months to come. I know I can’t promise they will return unless we start hearing overwhelming feedback that they must. We’ve taken items off in the past and had no choice but to bring them back (ie. Buffalo chicken is best example where it felt like a riot was about to take place)… so far, this hasn’t been one of those items.

I hate to even suggest trying the tofu, if you are in fact a vegetarian. My wife is, and that’s what she gets religiously. It’s not your standard tofu, it has spice, flavor, and people love it!

Other vegetarians will get the fajitas, though I agree with you are far different than the Roasted Veggies.

And finally, others will just get any of the items we sell “as is”, which is to say without chicken or steak. Most of our menu items start vegetarian, and only when you add chicken or steak do they become otherwise.

I am sorry I don’t have the answer you are looking for. To try and make up for this, and to give you a few visits on us to possibly find something else that gets you excited, send me the 16 digit code on the back of your Boloco card (you can pick one up if you don’t have one, and send it to me then) and I’ll add some Burrito Bucks on there for you to use. It’s the least we can do, and maybe you’ll find something that works. If not, we will hope that something we do in the future brings you back to our restaurants – we have sincerely appreciated your business and hope we’ll find a way to earn it back soon.




Edit Your Comment

  1. Danilo says:

    My goodness.

    I just want to reach through my screen and give that guy a hug.

    That’s how you talk to customers. Right there. There’s genuine concern and empathy and that gesture will easily get the customer talking about the situation with his friends.

    CEO John needs to get out of the burrito business and into the “How to Not Be a Company Douchebag” consulting business. I’d kill to work with people like that on a day-to-day basis.

  2. ValkRaider says:

    Yeah, but they need to dump their Flash only website.

  3. Paul D says:

    Do that!
    More of that!

  4. Building says:

    I’m going eat there when I see one!

  5. salimfadhley says:

    What has the world come to when we react with marvel and astonishment at any corporate response that required more than stuffing a pro-forma response into a branded envelope.

  6. Josh says:

    The world has become one where customers don’t matter because the bulk of them don’t care enough to take thier business elsewhere or to actually voice an opinion to someone who matters.

    I almost shed tears of joy reading this. I secodn the consulting for other CEOs.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I can only hope he has someone else writing these, since it’s not the kind of thing a CEO should be spending his time on, and I hope it’s not actually him who sent me this one, in response to my noting that there was a “type” (aka typo) on the website, the “Boston Commons” location is actually near the Boston Common. (Just because you call it the Boston Commons, doesn’t mean it is the Boston Commons. And pointing out typos in someone’s email seems kind of weak under the circumstances.)


    Thanks for your note. Technically, you are right (and frankly, “technically” is all that really matters). If you google and such you’ll find that a common term used to refer to the Common is in fact the Commons, but it also points out that its technically incorrect. I’ve requested the change be made – it should have been done so when we first came across it (we were guilty of using it in the plural ourselves, even though our “world headquarters” are a few short blocks away – we should have known better)

    Please send me your Boloco card # and I’ll load a freebie on there… we really do appreciate the feedback and heads up. If you don’t have one, please ask for one next time you visit and send it to me then!



    PS. I can’t help myself, and all in fun of course, but you actually had a typo in your note as well… ironically the word “typo” you have as “type”… no worries, we’ll still get you that free burrito! :)