Customer Service as a Differentiator: The “My Pleasure” Principle

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What did Burger King, McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC or your favorite retailer, cell phone or utilities company’s service staff say to you the last time you said thank you? “You’re welcome,” “welcome,” “yep,” “no worries,” “is there anything else I can help you with?” “come again,” nothing, don’t remember?

In customer service, words, when used consistently, can define your customer service delivery. They can also define your brand.

The “My Pleasure” Principle

There’s a reason why Chick-fil-A uses “my pleasure” to respond to its customers. To convey delight. Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy, was inspired to institute the phrase after a visit to the Ritz Carlton. When Cathy said “thank you” to the front desk representative, the response was “my pleasure.” And even though his business served fast food, Cathy felt it would be important to reply to his customers as if they were at a luxury establishment.

These words have become a brand differentiator for the fast food company which recently ranked in the top five of the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings, a customer experience survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers rating more than 250 major brands across 19 industries.

More than Words

“My pleasure” is just the start of the conversation on how the fast food chain has made a competitive differentiator out of customer service and the customer experience. More than words, it’s flowers on the table, servers and managers coming around to ask if your drink needs “refreshed”, even a Chick-fil-A employee willing to drive to a customer’s house because her sandwich had been left out of the drive-thru bag.

This is part of what Chick-fil-A calls a second mile service approach: the first mile delivering a satisfying customer transaction by meeting expectations; the second, going above and beyond when possible in a delightful or unexpected way. The fast food company also puts its money where its mouth is, investing more than $1 million annually in collecting customer feedback and evaluating its service. Each store then receives a report based on criteria, noting what they do well and what they need to improve on to achieve brand consistency in the customer experience.

A Top-Down Approach

Like Amazon and Zappos, Chick-fil-A’s focus on customer service has been supported and promoted from the top down. Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, professed in many interviews that is was important to him to always get better before getting bigger. Even in developing in the company’s name, quality was a factor for him, with the letter “A” signifying a top grade.

In his book, How Did You Do It, Truett?, the elder Cathy (who grew up in poverty and sold Cokes and newspapers at age eight to help his family put food on the table) wrote, “Throughout our whole chain, people are taught to be kind to the customers. It’s very important, and it doesn’t cost you anything either.”

Despite a serious public relations misstep in 2012 surrounding Cathy’s son that continues to pull heavily on the brand’s reputation, there’s something to be said for the elder Cathy’s early and very committed decision to focus on customer service. And to think it began, when he as a customer, heard two words: “my pleasure.”

This should have more brands thinking about what a big difference even a small change and investment in their customer service can make.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tricia Morris
Tricia Morris is a product marketing director at 8x8 with more than 20 years of experience at technology companies including Microsoft and MicroStrategy. Her focus is on customer experience, customer service, employee experience and digital transformation. Tricia has been recognized as an ICMI Top 50 Thought Leader, among the 20 Best Customer Experience Blogs You Must Follow, and among the 20 Customer Service Influencers You Must Follow.

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