Can A Robot Help Make You A Better Burrito? Nicole West of Chipotle Has The Answer

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“We want to meet our customers where they are without losing sight of exactly what what we want to be.”


When you think about quick-service restaurants like Chipotle, you might not always think they are on the cutting edge of innovation. But Nicole West, the VP of Digital Strategy & Product at Chipotle, says that’s not the case. In fact, Chipotle is making investments in robotics and AI in incredible ways to create the best possible experience in-store, online, and at all digital touchpoints. How? Find out on this episode.

Key Insights


Customers want self-service but does that mean bots are okay?

The answer is yes, but with caveats. The north star of your digital and in-person experiences should be creating a frictionless transaction. But in order to level up the customer experience, you have to have a personal touch so that your customers are feeling valued at every turn. Bots can help with that.

“Access and convenience is critically important, and a space where we’re always looking for new opportunities. We want to meet our customers where they are without losing sight of exactly what we want to be: a brand that promises that we’re made of real food exactly the way you want it, fast.”

Is this the dawn of collaborative robotics? (15:00)

When humans and technology work together, more is possible and you can reach a level of efficiency that was previously out of reach. Technology and robotics have reached a point where it is possible to task them with jobs that humans either don’t want to do or are not able to do with enough speed or efficiency. 

“We’ ‘re really focused on driving efficiencies in our restaurants that will enhance our employee experience and enable them to spend more time on culinary tasks and on the tasks that they really love doing in our restaurants. They love cooking and preparing the food. They love engaging and interacting with customers. Who loves standing over a fryer in making chips for hours a day or washing dishes, right? So we’re trying to enhance that experience with technology.”


About the Guest:

Nicole West is the Vice President of Digital Strategy and Product at Chipotle Mexican Grill. As a proven leader with close to 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Nicole oversees the development and execution of Chipotle’s integrated ‘customer-first’ digital roadmap. In addition, Nicole is responsible for the products that bring Chipotle’s digital ecosystem to life including Chipotle.com, award-winning Chipotle App and 2,600 Delivery Kitchens located inside Chipotle restaurants.

Under Nicole’s leadership, Chipotle’s digital business has achieved significant growth reaching the $1 billion-dollar revenue milestone in 2019. During this time of rapid innovation, Nicole ensures Chipotle’s digital products connect consumers with the Chipotle brand driving exceptional user experiences, sales, convenience and access. In March 2020, Nicole received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Hospitality Technology who recognized her dedication to the industry as an influential female executive at their ‘Top Women in Restaurant Technology’ awards.

Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science degree in geography and environmental studies and a Master of Public Administration and Environmental Policy degree from University of Colorado, Denver.”

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Episode 207