By Holly Powers
Anyone who knows me knows my favorite fast food restaurant is Chick-fil-A. Aside from the fact their chicken is especially good and I can always get sweet tea, I have a valuable business reason for eating there - they serve up amazing customer service. And these lessons aren't just served in my nearest location. But in any city, any town, any time I have been to a Chick-fil-A, I have left feeling like the most valuable Customer.
Now you may wonder what you can learn for your business, from a fast food restaurant. In short, plenty. Just because your business is different does not mean you can't take someone else's ideas or techniques and make them applicable to what you do. So I challenge you to be open to what you can learn from a chicken.
They are focused.
Chick-fil-a knows their expertise is making good chicken. You don't drive up to their window with options such as beef, pork or fish. Their focus stays on what they know. No empty promises of the best steak in town or a delicious oriental creation, just chicken. We should do the same for our Customers.
Don't pretend to have expertise where you can't deliver. Customers are good at sniffing us out. If you promise something you can't deliver just to get their business; you will be without a Customer.
They give me what I want.
I love Polynesian sauce (dipping sauce for nuggets) for my French fries. Chick-fil-A never charges me extra even though I don't order their nuggets. They are happy to give me what I want.
How many times to we charge our Customers all these added fees if they want something that is not the standard? When your Customer is hungry for something different - make it easy for them to eat.
I often crave chicken on lazy Sunday afternoons but Chick-fil-A is never open for business due to clear company values and beliefs. They choose Sundays as a day to rest. They are never open, no exceptions, and according to their business plan they never will.
So often we cheat our Customers by not breaking from our work. Too much work can lesson our ability to concentrate, cloud our focus, and leave a bitter taste in our mouth. How much help are we to Customers if we are burned out?
They train their employees.
At a Chick-fil-A visit you will hear things like, "It is my pleasure to serve you." "Please." "Thank you." "I look forward to seeing you at the window." The atmosphere includes smiles, laughter, and happy workers who appear to love their job. And I doubt their happiness is based on a love for chicken - they have been trained to value the Customer.
If you want to excel as a business, hire superstars that believe the Customer writes their paycheck. Set expectations with your employees and staff that outstanding Customer Service is expected, not optional. Add Customer Service as a major part of an employee's orientation. And most importantly lead by example. S.Truett Cathy, chose to do things his way by taking care of Customers and employees by hiring operators and managers that believed in his philosophy. To date, Chick-fil-A, the company he founded has more than a billion in sales annually.
I encourage you to visit a Chick-fil-A when you get the chance. I will continue my weekly visits to reaffirm my Customer service beliefs (and to get a chicken sandwich, no pickle with a large sweet tea!). p.s. You will notice in both articles the word Customer and Client are capitalized. Capitalizing the word is just one way we can remind ourselves of the great importance Customers have for our businesses. After all, without them, we wouldn't be in business.
Holly Powers is passionate about Customer Service in her role as the Client Development Princess for The Kevin Eikenberry Group. She is also the editor of Unleash Your Potential, an electronic newsletter devoted to helping leaders, professionals and organizations reach their full potential. To learn more about Unleash Your Potential or subscribe go to http://www.KevinEikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp.
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