Faster isn’t always better for delivering value in customer experiences — Impact Signal

Chick-fil-A had a problem of success. In the US, the revenue per restaurant was approximately 3–4 times that of a comparable McDonald’s location, and a survey conducted by Foursquare determined that it was America’s most popular fast-food chain. Chick-fil-A’s popularity was such that they began to notice a problem with their drive-through service-the wait-times were growing longer and experience scores were poor.

The company decided to tackle this problem head-on and invested a lot of time and money toward finding a solution. Initially, they hoped that technology could help improve the customer experience and ultimately increase retention rates. They believed that several new technologies such as voice recognition software or pre-ordering mobile devices apps might make a difference. However, they eventually landed on a solution that is likely not one you would have expected.

To boost their experience scores, they focused on giving customers more of what they valued in the brand. It turns out, what Chick-fil-A customers value most are their interactions with employees; for example, servers saying it was “My pleasure” instead of “You’re welcome”, and calling customers by their names instead of their order number.

Chick-fil-A’s solution was to bring employees out from behind the drive-thru window during busy times to engage with customers in the lineup. Employees had access to tablets that allowed them to approach cars and engage in a face-to- face interaction with customers as they waited. This new approach did not shorten the wait-times at the drive-thru, but it made the experience more memorable and because of that, customer experience ratings improved.

To improve a customer experience, it is important to understand the value being delivered to your customers.

I’ve seen similar stories play out in my work, for example, when engaged by a major national telecom company to help rethink their billing experience.

In that project, we created two prototypes. The first allowed customers to pay their bills with one-click. The second let customers know how the bill differed from their usual usage patterns and over a period of time, if overages were constant, would recommend a better plan for the customer.

The project team gathered feedback on both prototypes by allowing clients to experience what it would be like to use them. It turns out that customers valued analysis and review of their behaviour, letting them know what was out of the norm.

This resulted in a higher impact on their perception of the billing experience. It didn’t speed up the service or reduce effort but it did connect with something highly valued by customers. It demonstrated a deeper understanding of their concerns, helping them to manage this expense, not just pay it.

The key takeaway:

If you’re working to improve a customer experience, it is important to understand the value being delivered to your customers. When it comes to customer satisfaction, focus on creating better experiences, not necessarily faster ones.

Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash

customer experience design human centered design Human Experience Leadership service design technology

Originally published at on October 8, 2020.