Chick-fil-A recipe for excellent customer service

Free FryDayToday in the Jonesboro, Arkansas Regional Chamber of Commerce presentation, franchised restaurant operator and owner of Chick-fil-A, Mike Fullington explained to his audience how customer service can have an impact on a person’s day and even his life. He explained those who really do it well have a certain “spirit,” and that is not something that is trained; rather it comes from the heart with the desire to serve and help others.

In the world of fast food, there has to be a special talent to prepare fast food and still be able to pass out a survey asking a customer to rate taste, speed, attentiveness, courteousness, and cleanliness. That sounds more like the upscale restaurant we visit once in a while, but the Atlanta-based franchise is well-known for its passion and service. Instead of a “thank you” at the end of a customer’s purchase, the more genteel “my pleasure” is used. Truett Cathy, founder, chairman and CEO stresses “servant leadership,” meaning managers treat employees how they want employees to treat customers.

It’s not the extra mile of service franchises bring to Chick-fil-A; it’s been described as the second extra mile. It’s where new franchise owners can take up to a year to come aboard. They have worked in the restaurant, gone through countless interviews, involved their families in the business, and identify with corporate values. All Chick-fil-A’s for instance, are closed on Sundays as a day of rest and prayer. While it’s not mandatory to be Christian, all owners must have demonstrated a special passion, humility, and genuineness Cathy finds mandatory. He places families first, and is a firm believer in strong family units.

Innovative ideas to promote the Chick-fil-A culture for outstanding customer service is rewarded. Contests for competitiveness are rewarded as teams show exemplary work ethics and ideas. Technology and training assist employees in attaining goals of efficiency and speed; 90 seconds for service at a drive through and 60 seconds for counter service.

As an incentive to heighten customer loyalty, coupons, restaurant openings, and special community occasions bring forth new opportunities for “ambassadors” to spread the word to someone not familiar with Chick-fil-A.

And to constantly keep a check on the best ingredients for Chick-fil-A, Cathy spends $1 million dollars on quarterly evaluations which questions customers about their experiences. Respondents receive a free sandwich for answering twenty questions about their experiences. Each location is then forwarded a two-page report.

Excellent customer service is adding that special recipe people just don’t expect to receive. With over 1200 restaurants and $1.5 billion in sales, there’s a lot to be said about integrity taking first place as has been shown via Truett Cathy’s philosophy.

photo credit: Carl Black

2 Responses to “Chick-fil-A recipe for excellent customer service”

  1. Raquel Moore said:

    Aug 22, 11 at 9:21 am

    Having a servant’s heart is key. Chick-fil-A employees usually go out or their way to encourage a positive experience for patrons.

    I would like to see Chick-fil-A branch out into New England. This would be a definate challenge to the status quo for both Chick-fil-A and the northeast.

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