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THE PERSONAL TOUCH
With everything that took place during the pandemic shutdowns where businesses were closed and gatherings minimized, our deepest human desire - for personal connection - was starved.
With everything that took place during the pandemic shutdowns where businesses were closed and gatherings minimized, our deepest human desire - for personal connection - was starved. Unfortunately, however, that occurrence is not an isolated incident. The starving for a personal touch has expanded in recent years due to our increased reliance on digital tools. We focus attention on "friends" we have never met but are hundreds of miles away while neglecting those within the walls of our home. How do we as people, and as leaders, address that deficiency? We will take a look at what some have done in the fast-food industry to combat this factor.
Now, before we go any further, let's have a little fun. Take the time to answer these questions yourself and even poll others! The questions and answers come from an interesting Forbes article back in 2019.
What fast-food restaurant has the largest sales volume each year?
What fast-food restaurant has the fastest drive-thru?
What fast-food restaurant has the highest order accuracy?
What fast-food restaurant is considered the friendliest of all?
What fast-food restaurant has the slowest drive-thru?
Now that you've debated and offered your guesses, here's the answer sheet: (1) McDonalds, (2) Dunkin Donuts, (3) Chick-fil-a, (4) Chick-fil-a, and (5) Chick-fil-a. Yes, you read that right: Chick-fil-a has the slowest drive-thru in the industry!! Oh, by the way, 60% of their revenue (prior to the covid-19 pandemic) was generated by the drive-thru. You see, Chick-fil-a has the highest drive-thru volume of all fast-food restaurants in that they have 6 or more cars in the drive-thru line 35% of the time (the 2nd highest figure is McDonalds at only 9%).
Even by being closed on Sunday AND having the slowest drive-thru in the industry, this restaurant chain is commanding a large market share. How? Simply put, they have mastered the personal touch and it pervades everything that they do.
Consider just a few things that Chick-fil-a does to add a personal touch to those long drive-thru lines and, in doing so, they make quality feel quick. By the way, you will see many of these have been adopted by other fast food chains because they understand what Chick-fil-a has figured out:
Face-to-face ordering - instead of speaking into that microphone where misunderstandings can occur, they come to your car and take that order.
Read back - rather than you having to read the order on a screen, they read it back to you for confirmation. Again, it is a person-to-person interaction rather than using digital tools.
Doors, not windows - instead of leaning out the car window to get your food through the tiny drive-thru window, many of them have been replaced by doors. They can bring the food to your car for a more personal interaction that sets up the last one below.
The catchphrase - how do employees at Chick-fil-a respond to a thank you? They simply say... "it's my pleasure." You get to eat that spicy chicken sandwich with a smile because you come to believe they meant what they said.
So what? How can this teach us anything about the importance of a personal touch? From my reflection on what I read, I walked away with these lessons.
A quality experience is worth the wait.
The customer is not always right but it is not my place to make sure they know they are wrong.
The difficulty exists for us to overcome it rather than allowing it to overwhelm us.
The unknown is not an excuse for diminished quality. For numbers 3 and 4, let's explain just a bit. The pandemic could create a sense of complacency in that no dine-in customers naturally increase the drive-thru traffic BUT we'll just run it the way we always have. That response misses a complete opportunity at overhauling an experience with an extra personal touch. On October 26, 2020, an NC Chick-fil-a set the record for most cars served in an hour by serving 474 cars!!! Did they have to do things differently? Yes! Did they get rid of excuses? Yes! Did they make a lot of people happy? Yes!
If you want results in your life and leadership, then you have to figure out how to make those personal touches in an increasingly disconnected world. When you do that well, others will notice and turn to you for solutions.
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