Chick-fil-A stands out in the fast food world with their humorous cow commercials, Cow Appreciation Day (wear a costume and get free food), a reputation for healthier options, Sundays off for employees, and—my personal favorite—Chick-fil-A sauce.
You don’t have to read The Wall Street Journal every day to know that Chick-fil-A also leads the pack in best business practices, as well, receiving accolades this year in customer service and customer experience.
Just like your mother taught you, Chick-fil-A knows that courtesy matters, from the tableside service politely offered when your hands are full to the handiwipes available just outside the play area.
But how does a company build a culture of courtesy that keeps customers coming back? And what can organizations like yours learn from the creators of the chicken sandwich?
FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE
Numerous interviews and extensive training ensure that new franchise operators share the Chick-fil-A value of “servant leadership” — an application process that can take up to a year. Owner-operators “must exhibit humility, passion for service, compassion, and genuineness,” says president and CEO Dan Cathy in a Fast Company article about customer service.
“The main idea of ‘servant leadership,’” says Cathy in the article, “is that leaders serve the staff. Managers treat their employees how they want those employees, in turn, to treat customers.”
Make it yours: No matter the size of your organization, treating employees well trickles down to customers. Plus, it keeps employee turnover lower.
Chick-fil-A commits itself to discovering new customer “pleasure points,” according to an article in Forbes about the restaurant’s growth strategy. Opened in 2013, a Chick-fil-A innovation center is devoted to new ideas in food, design, and service, from developing new recipes to maximizing technology for faster ordering.
“Sometimes customers don’t know what they want yet. Our job is to uncover those things and get out ahead of them,” says Executive Vice President Steve Robinson in the article.
Make it yours: It’s easy to get into a rut with processes and programs that seem to be working. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is quickly becoming obsolete as innovation picks up speed daily. As often as you can, spend time keeping up with new ideas and brainstorming ways to delight your students, campers, and parents. “Maximizing technology for faster ordering,” is one way to do that for busy parents and potentially hectic processes.
Remember also that children influence their parents’ decisions. Delight the children.
CONSIDER YOUR CUSTOMERS’ PRIORITIES
In fast food, prompt service is just as essential to customers as food quality. Chick-fil-A employees strive to complete orders within 90 seconds in the drive-through window and 60 seconds at the counter, according to Fast Company. A timer on the computer monitor flashes yellow if an order is cutting close and red if it runs over. Friendly competition is cultivated among employees to motivate them.
Make it yours: What areas of your operations could use some streamlining? What do parents and their kids need the most and how can you provide it in your interactions with them? (If it’s registration, communications or camp/class management software, we can help with that.)
These examples may demonstrate innovative marketing, but they also prove tried-and-true values of thoughtfulness, kindness, and consideration, especially these days when everyone seems to be having a hard day—every day.
As a business, your goal is to be a gracious host. Considering your company’s strengths and weaknesses from that perspective could provide a whole new angle for your approach to customer service.