Chick-fil-A is the highest ranking fast food restaurant in the country for customer satisfaction, according to an American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report. Chick-fil-A leads the industry in customer satisfaction; employees at Chick-fil-A are the most likely to say “please” and “thank you,” and to smile at drive-thru customers. What’s the reason for Chick-fil-A’s success?
Analysts say it’s in part due to superior customer service. But improving customer service isn’t an easy fix, especially for large fast-food chains which have more than twice as many US locations than Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A has a leg up on the competition due to its structure. Each franchise operates just one site, allowing for more hands-on training. Typically, franchised chains like Arby’s, KFC, and McDonald’s don’t have a set limit on how many locations a franchisee can open, with franchisees operating up to hundreds of restaurants.
In this paper, I am going to tell how Arby’s moved up in the rankings month over month. According to the company, mistakes and poor customer service drove many once loyal customers away over the years. Arby’s customer service score was well below the industry average, brands such as KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Burger King regularly had better service scores.
Part of this has to do with Arby’s general rebranding efforts, which include store redesigns, new menu items, and a bold marketing campaign. However, according to Arby’s CEO Paul Brown, the rebranding would be futile without a similarly updated approach to communicating with the chain’s more than 70,000 employees nationwide. In fact, in late 2013, rebranding efforts were put on hold when the company realized the investments would be pointless if employees were not prepared. The chain began requiring all employees to attend an annual Brand Champ training program that has become the cornerstone in its efforts to improve customer service. The training attempts to both help employees understand why Arby’s operates the way it does and assist workers in achieving their own goals, inside and outside of Arby’s.
Brand Champ encompasses topics including a slightly tongue-in-cheek peek into the brands’ future. Information on meat sourcing, and what exactly Arby’s phrase “fast-crafted” means was given throughout the sessions. Rick Gestring, Arby’s Vice President for Brand and Operations Integration and other leaders, provide not just policy but also reasoning behind Arby’s decisions.
A big part of Brand Champ training is focused on setting goals — to use Arby’s language; employees can “start here, go anywhere.” Another piece of the puzzle is making sure that Arby’s is repaying the favor by acknowledging and assisting employees in their own goals. Workers are shown success stories in and out of the company. Brand Champ a feel-good story, but it also has real financial consequences. Many say employees who feel validated at work stay longer with the company and work harder. Employers are always just telling employees what to do but, people are engaged very differently when you say them why.
To sum it all up, one of the most significant different points between chains that are thriving and those that are struggling is customer service. Customers return to and become loyal to chains where they can expect accuracy, friendliness, and a simple “please” and “thank you.” Well trained front-line employees go a long way in the success of a business.