This blog series is brought to you by FohBoh Inc., a cutting-edge social Web technology company for the $1.7 trillion foodservice industry. This series will focus on the social media side of Franchise Appreciation Day, featuring thought leaders from Domino’s, KFC and California Tortilla.

Spontaneous and quirky California Tortilla is known for giving out free tacos if customers use the secret password, celebrating National Pop Tart Day with free Pop Tarts and other promotions that engage customers to keep the conversation going. With nearly 40 locations, the taco chain has its ear to the ground and takes monitoring customer feedback a step further than crawling Twitter and other social sites. The chain addresses each individual piece of feedback at the corporate level.

Each week, California Tortilla fields about 100 comments through e-mail, says Stacey Kane, director of marketing. In addition, about 30 comments are responded to online, mostly coming through Twitter.

If the feedback comes through e-mail via the website, all corporate team members — including the CEO — sees what customers have written. The field team sends it to the franchisee and addresses the content of the e-mail, then Kane follows up with the customer.

When the feedback comes through Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or the blog, Kane addresses it online by saying “Please e-mail [Kane's e-mail address] so we can make it up to you.” The customer usually responds, and Kane replies and then forwards it to the corporate team.

With the social sites, sometimes people aren’t aware that they are giving feedback to the company, Kane says.

“The biggest thing with social media is that a lot of companies just push out their message, and some of the valuable part of social media is listening. Having the ability to make it a true conversation — more than one-sided marketing, which a lot of companies do,” Kane says.

Read more about California Tortilla’s social media activities on SmartBlog on Social Media.

According to the International Franchise Association, 2011 will be a growth year for franchises, with a 2.5% increase in franchise locations after losses in 2009 and minimal growth last year. Sept. 3 was Franchise Appreciation Day, a day in which franchises showed their customers how much they mean to them through discounts, deals and giveaways. The special day aims to create an awareness to increase customers knowledge of the importance of using social media networks and location-based services to connect with and continue to support local franchises.

Photo credit: California Tortilla

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6 Responses to “Franchise Spotlight: How California Tortilla handles comments in an online world”

  1. Chief Alien says:

    What I find interesting is they are funneling comments to their website email vs using social media to respond. I actually approve of this very much. I also am surprised, but need to check out their pages how few comments they get for a 40 restaurant chain. But then people don't use social networks as much as Mashable, the VCs the networks and social media marketing agencies and bloggers and bullshitters want us to believe. Facebook had 150m unique visitors last month per compete. But each visitor visited less than once per day. Since Compete measures a visit as ending if inactivity lasts 30 mins and we all know how many high volume users log in again and again I have estimated only about 22 million active Facebook users on the network in the US each day. That is no social juggernaut. And with time spent per person per day down 40% since April 2010 Cali Tortilla is smart to funnel to their website which will be there even after Facebook and Twitter dies.

  2. [...] Franchise Spotlight: How California Tortilla handles comments in an online world [...]

  3. Allergy customer says:

    I posted a comment on their website in customer feedback but never got a response. How ironic!

  4. Hi just thought i would certainly tell you something.. This is twice today i have landed on your blog inside the last 2 weeks looking for totally unrelated things. Odd or what?

  5. geosocial says:

    People don't realize that the social sites are great places to give feedback to companies
    My recent post STOP PATCH IN ITS TRACKS—BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

  6. [...] “The biggest thing with social media is that a lot of companies just push out their message, and s… Share this [...]