Column: It pays to go the second mile


Commentary by George Klein

I am always impressed with the service I receive when I go to Chick-fil-A. Employees, who are making at or slightly above minimum wage, consistently create a great experience. In fact, I feel like I get as great of an experience at Chick-fil-a as I do at many high-end restaurants. Chick-fil-A is proof that businesses at lower price points can provide a great experience that leads to high customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Chick-fil-A employees do a lot of little things that create that great experience. They do things like carry trays, refill drinks and bring napkins and condiments to the table. The drive-thru  is typically managed by several employees who do things to move customers through the line very quickly. A second special touch is “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” or the all-too-common “no problem.” This slight change in language adds a touch of class to interactions and makes customers feel special.

The company refers to these little extras as the “second mile service.” The first mile service covers the basic things customers expect. The second mile service includes the extras that lead to exceeding customer expectations.

The second mile service culture has paid off for Chick-fil-A. The company has high customer service ratings and customer loyalty, with about 15 percent of their customers considered raving fans who will go above and beyond for the company. The company enjoys double digit sales growth with just more than 2,000 locations (McDonalds has more than 36,000 locations) and tops all fast-food restaurants in sales per restaurant. I believe that the second mile service approach has a positive impact on employees as well as customers. The employee turnover rate at Chick-fil-A is significantly lower than the fast food industry average.

Creating a corporate culture focused on providing great customer experiences starts with leadership. Chick-fil-A’s leadership established the second mile service culture from the start and continues to live the culture 70 years later. The culture is integrated into every aspect of the organization.

Regardless of price point, every business has second mile service opportunities to exceed customer expectations.

George Klein is the CEO/Founder of Peoplocity, a customer feedback and communication platform. Contact him at [email protected].