Think common courtesy is outdated and great customer service is obsolete? Then you probably haven’t visited your local Chick-fil-A restaurant.
I stopped at mine for a bite to eat on Saturday night (a day after Cow Appreciation Day) and was confronted by an uncharacteristically warm hospitality – particularly for a fast-food restaurant.
The experience started when I pulled up to a backed-up drive-thru, dreading an inevitably long wait. But remarkably, it was one of the speediest, most efficient drive-thru lines I’ve ever navigated.
My order was taken by a cordial guy, who immediately comprehended it, repeated it back (correctly!) and replied to my “Thank you” with a genuine-sounding “My pleasure.”
When I arrived at the pick-up window, my bag was awaiting me, accompanied by a pleasant woman who greeted me and efficiently completed the transaction. She eagerly responded to my “Thanks” with a familiar refrain: “My pleasure.”
So how can Chick-fil-A achieve this high level of service when its fast-food brethren falls miserably short?
I won’t pretend to know the secret formula, but I think it’s safe (and logical) to assume that it boils down to hiring great people, treating them well, providing them with a nice environment, and holding them to high standards. I’m sure a killer training program is part of the equation.
The resulting culture of respect shapes employees who exude pride (the good kind).
Founder – and current Chairman – S. Truett Carty has never been shy in proclaiming that he built the business on traditional “Christian principles,” including an uncommon-in-the-retail-world practice of staying closed on Sundays. It also supports numerous community service activities and sometimes-controversial alliances.
The formula seems to be working at the $3.5 billion chain, which has more than 1500 locations in 39 U.S. states and continues aggressive expansion despite the anemic economy.
Next time I visit my local restaurant, I plan to play a little game. Not only will I say “Thanks” to every crew member I encounter, but I’ll kick it up a notch by responding to their “My pleasure” with a quick retort of my own: “No, it’s MY pleasure.”
I’ll be curious to see if their responses are equally as cheerful and consistent.
Regardless, I gladly join those famous cows in exhorting everyone to: