Voices of the Engagement Economy: Jonathan Muhtar, SVP and CMO, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews

Customer Marketing


Jonathan Muhtar HeadshotJonathan is responsible for marketing communications, including on and offline advertising, product innovation and menu development, business analytics, and consumer insights. He also oversees the on-demand team responsible for the development of off-premise offerings including catering, online ordering, and delivery.

In this discussion, Jonathan talks about how the Engagement Economy has changed his business, how to get ahead, and about Red Robin’s core values.

Q: How does the Engagement Economy align with what you’re doing at Red Robin?

The concept of Engagement Economy absolutely rings true for us, and we’re putting more resources and attention into this every day. We live in a world that is rapidly evolving, so we need transparent communication in order to engage directly with our guests. Red Robin used to outsource all of our social media efforts to third-party agencies who would do all the listening and engagement on our behalf. Social media has become a core competency for our brand and we have since brought our social media community management efforts in-house to control the constant two-way communication with our guests. We listen to and engage with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and are investing in technology like Sprinklr for proactive social listening.

Q: How can CMOs get ahead when it comes to ever-changing technology?

There are challenges any time you’re rolling out a new technology. It takes time for the technology and teams to settle in and figure out how it works best for the brand and our guests. There is an urgency around the need to be on at all times and at all touchpoints with our guests. We are proactive, but no matter how proactive we are we need to keep getting better.

Q: How has engagement spread beyond your customers?

Our company culture is comprised of what we call our core B.U.R.G.E.R. Values, an acronym for Bottomless Fun, Unwavering Integrity, Relentless Focus on Improvement, Genuine Spirit of Service, Extraordinary People, and Recognized Burger Authority. These values are applied across the board in our engagement with employees,guests, and partners to ensure that they are better for being here. Ultimately the guest engagement starts with a face-to-face interaction in the restaurant, but we want the conversation to start before they even come in and continue after they leave.

Q: What is your favorite customer story?

B.U.R.G.E.R. Stories are the core of what makes Red Robin’s culture and brand so special and we start every meeting by giving attendees an opportunity to share the latest stories to give them the recognition they deserve. At our Grove City, OH location, we had a guest come in with a visual impairment and our Team Member offered her a braille menu. In the moment it was nothing out of the ordinary. However, the guest’s sister tweeted a picture of her sister reading the menu and mentioned that her sister is 18 years old and this was the first time she had ever been offered a braille menu at the restaurant. The tweet was shared more than 100,000 times and served as a powerful reminder to all of us that a simple gesture can mean something special.

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