About one week ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article that analyzed the results of a SeeLevel HX research engagement on the customer experience at fast food restaurants. The results were seemingly contradictory. The fast food chain with by far the overall best drive-thru experience was Chick-fil-A, and yet Chick-fil-A was by far the slowest drive-thru. While the average drive-thru takes 5 minutes 57 seconds according to the study (from line entry to receipt of food), Chick-fil-A averaged 8 minutes and 9 seconds during the research.
So how can you be so slow and yet be considered the best? Well for Chick-fil-A, one thing to keep in mind is that, on average, they had three times the number of customers in line as the other restaurants. At the other restaurants, you’re behind 2-4 other cars when you arrive, and about every 1-2 minutes you move, but otherwise you’re sitting. Also, when you pull in you’re usually near the ordering microphone, and you can see where people are receiving their food just ahead of you. It’s so close, yet it’s so far!!
At Chick-fil-A when you pull in, you’re often at the end of a “horseshoe” line on one side of the restaurant, and the customers receiving their food are on the other side. There could be 10-15 or more cars ahead of you. So even though you’re waiting 8 minutes, about every 30 to 45 seconds you’re moving forward – you feel like you’re making progress. And when you can finally see the front of the line, you’re almost there! All the while that you’re in line, you are being engaged by employees out in the parking lot who are taking your order, taking your payment, walking with you, and making sure that even the wait is a positive experience.
Even though you’re in line 2-2.5 minutes longer at Chick-fil-A, you’re moving more. You’re engaged more. And you’re having a better overall experience.
Yes, Chick-fil-A is considered the best for a lot of reasons from a customer service perspective, but one of the reasons is that even the waiting experience itself is actually far better than competitors.
Learn a little lesson from Chick-fil-A. Find ways to be the best, even if you’re not the fastest.