In the wake of the United Airlines customer service debacle, rather than focus on companies with bad customer service reputations (that could take a while), I took a fresh look at companies widely known for outstanding customer service. Chick-fil-A uniquely stood out, and has proven Great Customer Service has a significant positive dollars and sense effect on their bottom line.
In looking at the great customer service companies, several others regularly make the annual Customer Service Hall-of-Fame list1 for their outstanding in-store, on-phone and online customer service, e.g. Amazon, Apple and Marriott. And several retailers are also legendary for their very liberal Returns Policy, e.g. L.L. Bean, Nordstrom and Zappos.com.
However, Chick-fil-A rose to the top of my list, for several bottom-line reasons. In the highly-competitive and customer-demanding QSR category (“fast food” in marketing speak), it’s safe to argue Chick-fil-A’s industry-leading customer service equates to industry-leading revenue (among top fast food chains). Let me break it down as simply as possible vs. KFC (the biggest chicken chain):
Customer Service Ranking2
(i.e. saying “Please, Thank You, Smiling and making Eye Contact)
Chick-fil-A: #1 ($3.9MM/unit @1,983 units)
KFC: #34 ($1MM/unit @4,270 units)
Chick-fil-A: $6,827B (#8, among QSR Magazine’s top 50 chains)
KFC: $4.328B (#14 among QSR Magazine’s top 50 chains)
And if you’re a remedial math student (like me), I’ll break it down further—
Chick-fil-A out-sells KFC by a whopping +57.7%, with 53.6% fewer stores. Plus, Chick-fil-A is only open six days/week vs. KFC’s seven days/week. I’ll leave those advanced metrics to the A+ math students, but I hope you’re starting to see what I see.
Great Customer Service = More $$!
Of course, smiling and saying, “Please and Thank You” alone doesn’t necessarily equate to significantly destroying your competition in every important metric, a company also needs good products that people really enjoy, high-performing operations and savvy management. However, I’ll bet having well-trained employees and happy customers are BIG difference-makers.
When you invest in your employees, you’re also making an investment in your customers and your brand. I believe Chick-fil-A has proven companies can Scale Culture, and investing in employee training and great customer service can easily have an ROI of 3:1 — who wouldn’t do that?
Please tell me about your favorite customer service companies, and why?
1. 24/7 Wall St./Zogby Analytics annual customer service survey
2. QSR Magazine’s 2016 annual drive-thru survey report
3. QSR Magazine 2016 “QSR 50”