At QSR’s, convenience is key to the customer experience


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Lessons from McDonald’s, Starbucks, Five Guys and Chick-fil-A

There are two types of glue (giving little unexpected extras) in customer experience. Those that address value and those that address maintenance. The goal is to be seen as high value and low maintenance. Value is the “what” of CX and maintenance is the “how.” In What’s Your Purple Goldfish, the book describes 12 ways to exceed expectations. Six of those ways focus on maintenance, including the concept of being convenient. For Quick Service Restaurants (QSR’s), this is key to the customer experience. Let’s look at some examples from the top QSR’s:


Thanks to Mark Beal of Taylor for sharing today’s article in the WSJ on McDonald’s. McDonald’s is making efforts to improve the ordering process to create efficiency. The article is entitled, “McDonald’s Tackles Repair of ‘Broken’ Service.” Here is an excerpt:

In a webcast McDonald’s executives held with franchise owners last month, the company said 1 in 5 customer complaints are related to friendliness issues “and it’s increasing,” according to a slide from the presentation reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The webcast identified the top complaint as “rude or unprofessional employees.”

One slide said that complaints about speed of service “have increased significantly over the past six months.” Another mentioned that customers find service “chaotic.”

images-1The company has now missed Wall Street estimates for the last two quarters. Action is needed. Part of the solution involves a new dual point ordering system. Customers order with cashiers to the right. They then move to the left until there number is called. Customers offer their receipt which gets scanned to eliminate it from the system. Employees called “Runners” have been added to assist with the process. The food is supposed to be presented with a thank you, a smile and request to come back soon. Early reports are favorable. Accuracy and speed have improved. The jury is still out on attitude.


images-3According to the book “Uncommon Service” by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss, Starbucks worked for years to train customers how to correctly order their drinks. They understood how this would improve efficiency, making the process more convenient. To support the program, they created collateral showing the progression of how to order. One thing they did was absolute genius. They would never correct you when you ordered, but they would always confirm your drink by saying it back to you in the correct way. This not only played a role in educating the ordering customer, but to also inform those waiting in line. The result: Improved efficiency and happy customers. [Still need help? FYI – there is now an app called Starbucks Drink Caller]

Five Guys

Five Guys numberingFive Guys Burgers and Fries has an interesting way to communicate what’s been ordered. Thanks for Sal Vilardo of PR Giraffe for pointing out the numbering system. Each burger ordered is given in a number on the receipt. Employees then package the burgers with corresponding stickers. The best ideas are sometimes the simplest.


chick-fil-a cheeriosThanks to AENC Executive Director Jim Thompson for sharing this gem. A Chick-fil-A restaurant in Raleigh is offering a convenient solution for families dining at the restaurant. The restaurant is encouraging families to order at the drive-thru window. After paying the families are instructed to park and enter the restaurant. Upon entering their food is already set up at a table. This eliminates the painful process of ordering with your kids running around everywhere. Anyone with kids can attest that herding cats may be simpler than the ordering process. It also allows for better utilization of the tables in the restaurants. Just one more thoughtful way that Chick-fil-A is making things convenient. [My absolute favorite is the little one ounce containers of Cheerios. My local Chick-fil-A has a sign that says they are for “customers in training”]

How are you making things more convenient for your customers?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – I mentioned the book Uncommon Service earlier. Here is an infographic for the book:


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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