The highest customer satisfaction scores in the fast food industry
Customer satisfaction scores are in general rising in the fast food industry, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The best of them is Chick-fil-A, a chicken sandwich chain, rated ahead of Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds (in the bottom of the survey) (http://theacsi.org, 2017).
Chick-fil-A (CHIK-fil-AY, a play on the US pronunciation of “fillet”) is an American fast food restaurant chain specializing in chicken sandwiches and are headquartered in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, Georgia. The company was founded in May 1945 and currently employ more than 2.000 restaurants, mainly in the United States (wikipedia.org, 2017).
Chick-fil-A uses ”The Cows” in their advertising. The following story is from their website:
“In 1995, a renegade cow, paintbrush in mouth, painted the three words “EAT MOR CHIKIN” on a Texas billboard. From that day forward, the burger-eating landscape was forever changed. These fearless cows, acting in enlightened self-interest, realized that when people eat chicken, they don’t eat beef. Today, the cows’ herds have increased and their message reaches millions – through television, radio, online, and on the occasional water tower. Needless to say, we fully endorse and appreciate the monumental efforts made by our most beloved bovine friends” (www.chick-fil-a.com, 2017).
How Chick-fil-A puts the Customer First
Chick-fil-A puts the customers first by developing a customer-centered leadership and culture that trickles down to every member of the team where they build customer experience on top of what they call the “second mile service”. The first mile service is serving the company’s products to its customers, hot or cold and freshly made, without long wait times, by fast food production in clean kitchens of every restaurant. The second mile service covers many customer-oriented initiatives to make great customer experiences.
Kristen Hunter, a marketing consultant with Chick-fil-A explains: “The first mile is the foundation—good customer service, hot food hot, cold food cold. The second mile is what we do that’s remarkable, like carrying people’s trays to their tables.” Playing to your core strength helps create a brand-building customer experience” (Hunter, 2010, s. https://www.qsrmagazine.com/promotions/details-matter).
The second mile is all about the details. The examples Kristen Hunter provide are:
At Chick-fil-A, the employees remember the order from the different customers and carry the tray to the table when the food is ready. They do not shout a number, like at McDonalds. If they address a customer, it is by the name noted on the order when it was placed with the employee.
At Chick-fil-A, the employees say, “My pleasure”, instead of “You’re welcome”. This concept was initiated at Chick-fil-A restaurants by the founder, Samuel Cathy, after he visited a Ritz-Carlton. He was so impressed by the welcoming hospitality of the hotel that he transferred this reception to his restaurants, making them exclusively customer-oriented. When it is raining, the employees will use an umbrella to escort their customers back to their vehicles, like at Ritz-Carlton. Kristen explains that It is the small things like this that make fans rave over the service they find at Chick-fil-a.
Chick-fil-A always has fresh flowers in their restaurants, which normally are found only in much more expensive restaurants than a fast food chain. The customers are impressed by this special consideration and, according to Kristen, it differentiates Chick-fil-A from the competition.
Chick-fil-A waitresses do a “table touch” during a customer’s meal, meaning that they will “touch” the table and ask the customer if everything is satisfactory with the food, if they need refills, or require anything additional. The customer does not need to leave the table because their needs are met by the waitress. This is also something you would not expect to find in a fast food restaurant.
The employees at Chick-fil-A extend their regrets and apologies to the customer if their food is not ready within 60 seconds at the counter, or 80 seconds at the drive through. There are times when delays or mistakes are inevitable, as I described earlier in the book.
Chick-fil-A’s success is due to their customer personalization, and by making great customer experiences with the small things. Small things not very costly, and it is the little things that make the big things happen. Every business principle at Chick-fil-A could be transferred to a vehicle importer or dealer without incurring additional cost.