I spent the past few weeks on the road, enjoying a bit of vacation and visiting clients. Getting away from my usual round of activities is refreshing for me. I discover new things. I hear comments in face-to-face discussions that I do not understand in a phone conversation or read in an email. I read from different and learn different and new things.

To top the list was news about Chick-fil-A. Most of our blog readers are familiar with this fast food restaurant chain. For those not familiar, it is a Georgia-based company that got started in 1946 and is still family owned. As the name suggests, it sells chicken and related products. It has a bit of a cult following especially for those who grew up eating it and moved to areas that do not have it (my daughter, for example). The food is not great (my opinion) but adequate. What is most interesting is that it has become the third largest fast food chain in the US, behind number one McDonald’s and number two Starbucks. While there are several strategic reasons behind this growth, I suspect a big reason is a better service experience. Among fast food chains, Chick-fil-A has the highest rated service according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. A friendly smile and a courteous welcome, along with good food (not great), works. In this case, it has resulted in this company growing much faster than the overall industry.

My client visits were especially interesting. It seems their customer experience efforts are bearing fruit. One client noted that making it easier for customers to reach them was paying off with fewer complaints and reduced customer complaints. Another talked about how their frontline people are becoming more engaged in the customer experience. When I asked why, my contact said, “they are seeing that it is a lot more fun to work with happy customers.”

On another front, one client completed some initial work into the impact of experience on customers’ likelihood to stop doing business. What they found was very interesting. Customers expressing lower levels of loyalty on surveys were more likely to either go dormant for a period or discontinue doing business with the company.

What are your observations? Are people paying more attention to the customer experience at your company? Let me know what you think!

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