While many organizations have bought into the importance of delivering great customer experiences, not many are not actually delivering on it and many haven’t even defined their desired customer experience. According to research by Bain & Company, 80% of organizations believe they provide a superior service experience, but only 8% of their customers described their experience as superior.  So, there is a decided disconnect between belief and reality for most organizations. One organization that not only defines their desired customer experience but also delivers upon it is Chick-fil-A.  Their mission is to create and develop Chick-fil-A ambassadors and raving fans.  This begins by hiring the right people that fit a customer-focused culture.  This focus on the “right fit” is working and has resulted in Chick-fil-A’s turnover being a third of the industry average.  Here is an excerpt from a recent job posting:

“It’s pretty simple, our goal here at Chick-fil-A is to deliver REMARKABLE experiences for our guests EVERY TIME! What does REMARKABLE mean? It means our guests love their experience so much; they come back again and again as well as tell their friends! How do we do that? Amazing team members like YOU who genuinely want to serve others!”

They offer their employees many perks including Sundays off to spend with their families, college scholarship opportunities, free food, and much more. Their job requirements are also employee and customer-focused and typically include the following:

Some Responsibilities of Front-of-House Team Members:

  • Greet Our Guests & Make Eye Contact
  • Share a Smile
  • Speak Enthusiastically
  • Connect with Guest Personally
  • Work in a High Energy Environment
  • Work as a Team
  • Work at a Fast Pace
  • Have a Passion to Serve Others
  • Handle Cash with Accountability
  • Have an Eagerness to Work Hard
  • Be Teachable
  • Be Coachable
  • Have Fun!

So, how do they deliver on this goal of remarkable customer experiences?  They do this through what they call “Second Mile Service”.  Essentially, Chick-fil-A’s “Second Mile Service” is what drives its customer experience. The first mile is the foundation: good customer service, hot food hot, cold food cold. The second mile is what they do that’s remarkable, like carrying people’s trays to their tables.

Here’s a list of just a few of the “Second Mile Service” offerings Chick-fil-A delivers:

  1. Saying “My pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome”.
  2. Carrying food trays to your table.
  3. Mid-meal table visits and refilling your drinks for you.
  4. Calling customers by their first name instead of by a number.
  5. Genuine empathy when expectations are not met.
  6. Letting customers order from the lunch menu at breakfast time.
  7. Greeting guests at their car with an umbrella when it’s raining.

So, in addition to providing great, quality food fast, they do many little things right to exceed customer expectations and develop raving fans.  They also have a keen understanding of their customers and the different personas that visit their restaurants.

For example, understanding that parents of young children are among their key customer personas, Chick-Fil-A has started offering a delightful new service called “Mom’s Valet.” Knowing that parents of young children want to have a convenient and affordable meal with their families, Chick-Fil-A has innovated the experience so that parents can enjoy eating out more. With this new service, parents can order food at the drive-thru while the kids are still contained in their car seats, and then come inside to a table that has been prepared with the right number of highchairs. The staff will then serve the food when it’s ready. Not having to wrangle young kids while waiting in line and juggle carrying food from the counter to the table (while also carrying car seats and diaper bags and highchairs) makes the whole experience less stressful for parents. This is an innovative way to better serve and delight this customer persona.

Chick-Fil-A has also innovated the products they serve to delight different customer personas. They’re now offering new menu items like premium coffee for coffee lovers, frosted lemonade, and a “superfood side” of kale and broccolini salad for their customers that lean more toward healthy choices. All this hard work and focus on the customer experience has paid its dividends as Chick-fil-A in 2018 now does more business in six days than McDonald’s does in seven.

This is a company that not only talks the talk but walks the walk regarding customer experience.  While delivering on the mission is certainly not easy, Chick-fil-A offers hope and encouragement to those organizations that are striving to use the customer experience as a competitive differentiator.  And, that can only occur when the customer experience is intentionally designed and implemented.

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