Customer Experience: Good Enough v. Good Enough

why Chick-fil-A is better at the customer experience

Good Enough v. Good Enough

In this post we want to explore Chick-fil-A’s secret to delivering a mind-blowingly great customer experience; though let’s first clear a couple of things up: Chick-fil-A doesn’t provide a “mind-blowingly great” customer experience… and there is no secret to what they do. The customer experience at Chick-fil-A is good. Compared to their competition in the fast food industry, it’s great. Compared to the Royal Suite at the Plaza in New York City, it’s better than getting a tooth pulled.

However, what Chick-fil-A has discovered (and most every other retail business has not), is that you don’t have to blow customers’ minds with delight, you just need to get things right the first time. Moreover, the average fast food customer just wants to get a good deal on decent food served by respectful people of average intelligence. (In the first post, we called this making “it” easy, though now let’s look at the “it” in terms of good enough. What Chick-fil-A delivers is good enough.)

Side Note on Chick-fil-A

We use Chick-fil-A as the primary example of great CX for several reasons:

  1. They consistently provide a great customer experience regardless of which location you visit.
  2. They’re well-known, and it’s likely most readers have visited Chick-fil-A at least once.
  3. It’s easy for readers who may never have been there to visit one to see for themselves.
  4. The comparisons to the competition are easy to make and clear to most readers.
  5. How they provide great CX is ridiculously simple to emulate.

Brand Relationships

Except for rare exceptions, today’s consumer is not looking to have a love affair with you, with your company, or with your brand.

Don’t believe us? Ask your friends and coworkers if they have a relationship with a brand, any brand (other than yours). Of course, plenty of us may love a particular food, beverage, clothing line, or other retail good; however, few of us would describe this in terms of having a relationship with these brands. (You’re likely to find that less than 25% of those you ask will admit to having a brand connection beyond enjoying the product.)

For example, Steve enjoys Coke Zero (now needlessly called Coca-Cola Zero Sugar); he’s enjoyed it since its introduction in 2005. And although he now only consumes soda a few times a month, he’ll allow his love for Coke Zero to weigh heavily in his decision of where to eat when the choice includes restaurants that offer it and those that don’t. If forced to label it like or love, he’ll admit he loves Coke Zero (He, by the way, refuses to call it Coca-Cola Zero Sugar). Steve loves Coke Zero because it tastes better to him than any other diet soda.

Steve has no feelings for The Coca-Cola Company. To him, they are merely a faceless corporation producing something he thinks is quite tasty. He doesn’t follow the company or the Coke Zero brand on any social media; he doesn’t own any Coca-Cola garb; and if he happens to have something with their logo at his home, it’s because it was either a gift or it was the best-value version of whatever it is.

If The Coca-Cola Company is spending any time or money to create a relationship with Steve, they are wasting their time and money. Steve will stay loyal so long as they continue to deliver good enough when it comes to Coke Zero. That is, keep the taste consistent, have it in stock, in the sizes he wants, and at a competitive price.

Because good enough is good enough… when your definition of good enough meets or exceeds the consumer’s definition of good enough. To put this in terms of driving increased customer loyalty, your company shouldn’t waste time or money chasing relationships that simply will never materialize. Instead, you should just do what Chick-fil-A does… deliver good enough.

McDonald’s v. Chick-fil-A

If we had to guess, we’d say at least 95% of McDonald’s frontline employees believe they personally deliver good enough. Additionally, we would suspect that the percentage of McDonald’s franchisees and corporate executives who believe their restaurants provide good enough is much closer to 100%.

So why would we rate roughly a third of our visits to McDonald’s restaurants poor in terms of the customer experience (yet we honestly have never had a bad customer experience at a Chick-fil-A)? Because there’s good enough and then there’s good enough.

No offense, but Steve believes McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich (when served properly) is slightly better than Chick-fil-A’s. If you don’t agree, he’ll argue you’ve only consumed a McDonald’s version that was prepared incorrectly – by someone who felt the sandwich they were serving you was good enough.

Although Steve prefers the McDonald’s version, when given the choice, he will most often choose Chick-fil-A. It’s not price (we’re pretty sure Chick-fil-A is more expensive). It’s not that Chick-fil-A offers Coke Zero (that’s nice, but not a deciding factor). It’s that Chick-fil-A’s definition of good enough more closely matches his. (Choosing McDonald’s over Chick-fil-A when you want a chicken sandwich is like playing chicken roulette. Often, that gamble just isn’t worth it.)

He doesn’t want a chicken sandwich served on a stale bun. He doesn’t want to wait more than a few minutes in the drive-through. He doesn’t want the chicken to be dry, overcooked, undercooked, or re-cooked. And just as importantly, he doesn’t want a chicken sandwich served with attitude. These examples happen so often at McDonald’s that we’re led to believe most of their frontline employees, franchisees, and corporate executives think these experiences are good enough.

(Oh, and don’t get us started on how great Popeyes Classic Chicken and Spicy Chicken Sandwiches are. There are no comparisons, yet we can count the number of good experiences we’ve had at their restaurants on one hand. Serving fried chicken with attitude is so common at Popeyes, they should just make that their slogan. They could become the Ed Debevic’s of fast food and just make their often inconsiderate, abrasive service part of their schtick.)

Perception is Reality

Chick-fil-A’s version of good enough is good enough because it’s always good enough in the eyes of the customer. McDonald’s version of good enough is not good enough because (in our experience) it’s not good enough in the eyes of the customer about a third of the time.

The customer’s perception of what you’re delivering is the reality of what you’re delivering. Therefore, although 95% (our guesstimate, remember) of McDonald’s frontline employees believe they’ve delivered good enough, the reality is they have not. The reality is they fail to deliver good enough with about one in three customers.

If you want to be a CX juggernaut, the customer’s perception is all that matters. A customer’s perception is reality, and their perception becomes your brand. And while you might want to argue Chick-fil-A’s brand is more the consistent quality of their food, we’d ask you to consider what their brand would become if their drive-throughs were slow, and their employees were rude.

The customer experience is your brand. Period. End of story. Of course, your expensive marketing team would argue vehemently that they’re the ones responsible for creating and cultivating the brand… they are not. Your frontline employees are responsible for this, and your customers are the final arbiters of whether your brand is considered great or just okay. Will customers go out of their way to do business with you (à la Chick-fil-A) or are they only going to buy from you when you are both the most convenient and the cheapest alternative (à la most every other fast food outlet)?

Talk is Cheap

You cannot artificially tell the customer what your brand is – you must live it. Great customer experiences are not about relationships with your brand; great customer experiences are about simplicity. In fact, with Chick-fil-A, it’s simply consistent food, good service, and manners. It’s their definition of good enough.

Thank the cashier at Chick-fil-A, and you’ll hear, “My pleasure.” It’s a sincere response, even though you’ll hear the same response in every one of their stores. The service is good, their team is respectful, they do it right the first time (so they avoid issues that require solutions), and of course, the food is good.

Simply put: Chick-fil-A’s good enough is to eagerly provide fast food with manners. That’s it. They don’t waste marketing dollars telling you they’re going to provide you with a great customer experience, they just provide it. (We’ll explore companies using words successfully and unsuccessfully to create great experiences later, in a post we’ll title “My Pleasure.”)

If your team, location, or company is not considered a CX juggernaut like Chick-fil-A, it’s likely time to change your definition of good enough… and as we learned in the first post, everyone in your organization must also care enough to want to provide this new version of good enough.

This is the third in a series of excerpts from Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience, a book written for everyone in any organization that has customers. That is, it was written for those in both the public and private sector; and for everyone in these organizations. From the frontline, customer-facing employees to the CEO and board of directors.

Each chapter in Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience concludes with Key Learnings and Chapter Exercises to make certain you and your team take the efficient path to becoming Customer-First. As you’ll learn in this ridiculously short book, building and maintaining a CX juggernaut isn’t hard… in fact, it’s ridiculously simple. Buy it now on Amazon!