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What does Customer Experience have to do with Fried Chicken?

Sometimes it’s about ensuring every team member, regardless of role is a good person, someone who see’s beyond the current problems of the day, their frustrations or lack of results but instead looks at it from the point of view from the person they’re talking to.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I joke about people not saying ‘please and thank you’…after all, it’s how I was raised!

Upon doing research for an upcoming customer experience workshop for leaders I’m running, I recently read some great material about how a US national fast food chain, Chick-fil-A has been beating the competition hands down, not just on its chicken or quality of food, but by focusing solely on the customer experience.  It makes you wonder…why would a fast food chain really care about how you feel when you buy the food?

Despite the research, our own experience shows that it’s how we feel about our engagement that counts – so when we drive thru or walk up to order our food, the one thing that Chick-fil-A has been instilling in every person who works for them is the ‘Please and Thank you’ mantra.  Beating McDonalds and KFC, they focus on eye contact and the basic manners that we were brought up with as a child – making every person feel as if they were listened to and their complete attention was on them at that moment in time.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But this makes me wonder…how on earth do you make a large complex organisation sing to this tune and importantly, how do you make them care and do this second nature?  It’s a monstrous task, but one thing that springs to mind is that this isn’t a crazy idea from one individual or a program, but instead it comes from the top, not as an initiative but as a culture…after all, Chick-fil-A has become renowned for its customer service and asks its team members ‘why wouldn’t say please and thank you – and look them in the eye’.

Now here’s the million-dollar question – just how would you make your B2B organization, live and breathe this type of culture, not just externally to your customers, but also internally to your internal stakeholders.  Good culture can disappear instantly with one grumpy person or someone who’s continuously negative – these people just won’t change, they feed of the negativity, create it and fuel it.

Customer Experience is just as important as Employee Experience and I argue you can’t have good customer Experience unless you’ve defined and are positively actioning your Employee Experience.  An example of this is when I spoke to a company’s finance team recently – they simply didn’t care about any experience and just wanted to focus ‘on their job’ – to the point they openly said ‘I don’t care about how satisfied you are…it’s not my problem.’  This made me stop in my track and think wow…you single handily are blocking internal and external relationships and perhaps millions of dollars on coaching and enablement programs have stopped with yourself.

Sometimes it takes more than just the ‘please and thank you’ culture that Chick-fil-A installs – sometimes it’s about ensuring every team member, regardless of role is a good person, someone who see’s beyond the current problems of the day, their frustrations or lack of results but instead looks at it from the point of view from the person they’re talking to.  

Treat others how you want to be treated…and remember the please and thank you approach is fantastic but also drive self-accountability and a culture of awareness and learning. I constantly challenge recruiting and HR professionals on how they identify this to ensure any customer or experience activity is undone by one frustrated and perhaps disconnected person.

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