Taco Bell Spices Up Training and Empowers Team Members with Inkling

Adoption of Inkling’s smart content system boosts customer satisfaction levels while saving Taco Bell $2 million a year in printing and shipping costs.


  • No direct access to training and job reference materials
  • Inability to search within critical standard operating procedure (SOP) documents
  • Lack of reporting


  • Searchable library of content with online and offline access
  • Easy content creation and one-click publishing
  • In-depth analytics

Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., is a leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant (QSR) brand. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations serve more than 42 million customers each week through 7,000 restaurants across the nation, as well as through mobile, desktop, and delivery ordering services. Overseas, Taco Bell has more than 250 restaurants, with plans to add 2,000 more restaurants internationally within the next decade. To keep up this rapid pace of growth, Taco Bell partnered with Inkling to provide better training and on-the-job enablement for their team members.

Train Más, Learn Más

Taco Bell knows how to entice customers: launching multiple limited-time offers a year, it creates craveable, affordable—and sometimes outrageous—menu items. This rapid and unparalleled rate of change in the QSR world is one of the many reasons fans buy into Taco Bell’s brand. This company is doing things differently, which includes an unwavering commitment to employee experiences over everything else.

“We really believe that if there’s a strong culture in our restaurants, if our team members are happy and having a great time, and if there’s strong leadership, then these factors will translate to happy customers and, ultimately, great business results,” explains Michelle Kay, senior manager of Learning and Organizational Development at Taco Bell.

Over the years, Taco Bell realized it could further improve in these three areas when sharing training and on-the-job materials with its franchises and team members:

  • Build Cards (job aids) for training on new menu items. Posted to the intranet for managers to download and distribute to team members.
  • Hard copy workbooks with day-to-day operational knowledge, tasks, and checklists. Ordered from headquarters by each franchise.
  • Answer System (SOPs) including all internal policies and procedures. Provided on the intranet as unsearchable PDF documents, accessible only from back office computers.

Since Taco Bell releases a new menu item every six weeks, the company sometimes saw customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores go down the first week of each new experience. It realized that these resources were conflicting with efficiently coordinating 7,000 locations and training 210,000 team members across the system. The root of the problem was that team members didn’t have an easy way to retrieve their training materials (like Build Cards) without waiting for management to go into the system and pull them.

As Kay explains, “our entire curricula is designed around a blended learning approach, and the majority of our restaurants were missing a really big component. We knew that was a challenge we were looking to solve.”

Inkling Cravings

Due to this training approach, the execution of employee training was inconsistent. For a company focused on its team members’ success, Taco Bell recognized that it was time for a more modern approach to training and content distribution.

Kay discovered Inkling as the answer to both employee enablement and training challenges, especially for the six-week new menu launches. With Inkling’s smart content system, Taco Bell now can:

  • Deliver operational knowledge directly to team members and managers on multiple  device
  • Provide team members with training for new menu items as soon as it’s released
  • Empower team members to search for mission-critical content in an efficient manner

After an initial (and successful) market launch at the beginning of June 2017 to 90 stores with 96 percent adoption, Taco Bell launched to all 7,500 U.S. restaurants in September. With plans to create 100,000 new U.S. jobs across the system over the next five years, it views Inkling as playing a huge role in empowering these new hires by ensuring training and development opportunities are easy to access and use.

Single Source of Knowledge

Taco Bell now provides a single digital version of all operational content, accessible on any device. When new menu item training is released, team members have direct access, which ensures higher utilization rates, more effective training, and happier customers who are better served. Every team member also can access and annotate a digital version of his or her day-to-day tasks, as well as easily search through all internal policies and procedures.

“In switching over to Inkling, we’ve seen people find content who have never used the system before because Inkling is really intuitive,” Kay says. “Within a couple of weeks, we had hundreds and hundreds of completions of job practice sessions within Inkling and zero phone calls of being confused about how to access tools and information.”

Launching training content for new menu items every six weeks is now a much simpler process with Inkling, which puts less strain on Kay’s team. Content is created with greater speed and agility, and the process of making changes and edits is less stressful, thanks to real-time updates. Kay also was impressed with how quickly her interns created new content without any previous experience or training.

“Because no one is a developer on my team—but every single person is a jack-of-all-trades—we need a system that is easy to create in, robust enough for us to do what we need to do, and beautifully designed for the end-user experience,” Kay says. “Inkling checked all those boxes for us.”

Results: Let’s Taco ’Bout It

Early analytical results point to the value Inkling is already delivering for Taco Bell and its customers.

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores: 4 to 5 percent increase in customer happiness with new menu launches in restaurants using Inkling (versus those that have not yet adopted Inkling)
  • Printing and shipping:  Savings of $2 million a year on printing and shipping workbooks out to franchises