Chick-fil-A says it will look very closely at customer feedback in Atlanta before deciding whether or not to roll out the meal kit program nationwide. Why is customer feedback so important when it comes to making strategic business decisions?

Feedback is vital for understanding what customers think about their experiences with a quick-service restaurant, whether good or bad. It helps quick-serves understand their strengths and weaknesses, and then leverage those responses to improve.

Chick-fil-A has an established reputation as a leading innovator in the customer experience space and obviously understands the importance of customer feedback, especially when it comes to testing innovations before full rollout. They’ll capitalize on their findings to make better, smarter business decisions as the company looks to their local Atlanta customer base to gauge if a nationwide rollout is worth the investment.

What a customer thinks about your business is everything. Chick-fil-A will understand if their new strategy is working and, if it’s not, their customers can help them identify what needs adjustment.

What are the pitfalls that businesses run into when collecting feedback?

One major problem is that businesses tend to make collecting feedback too difficult. Survey forms are too long or require an extra step on the customer’s part to get there. Questions are confusingly worded or seem redundant.

The large majority of customers are more than happy to give feedback but only when it’s quick and easy. Unfortunately, most feedback methods today are too time-consuming for the average customer, and often even the small minority that are willing to take the time are doing so either because their experience was extreme (whether good or bad) or because they want the special offer and therefore will flick through the questions as quickly as possible. When your response rate is hovering around the 1–2 percent mark, and when you’re unsure of the motivation behind the responses, it makes it incredibly difficult to analyze how your business is performing.

How can businesses avoid these pitfalls?

The golden rule is ‘keep it simple.’ Chick-fil-A would be wise to minimize the friction with its customers and make sure questions are short, precise, relevant and, if possible, happening in the moment.

In addition, ask questions that touch on different topics. This strategy will avoid issues with receiving feedback that is blind to other essential factors of the purchase experience, like service and convenience. Businesses need to think about all the different elements that go into buying an item at their restaurant and then ask their customers the questions that will give them the answers they need to get a better sense of the whole picture.

However, this doesn’t mean throwing every question possible at every customer. Customers won’t make the time for lengthy in-store surveys or go online from a receipt prompt to fill out a long form. Businesses should keep their questionnaires short and to the point to encourage maximum participation. With the high response rates that result from keeping it simple, you can ask different questions of different customers and still receive meaningful insights.

What can Chick-fil-A do to make sure they’re receiving the right feedback from their customers, so they can make better business decisions?

Chick-fil-A should be sure to ask a mixture of questions to their customers that cover different areas of the overall experience. As mentioned, keeping it short and sweet can be the most successful approach, because it’s easy for customers to quickly give a response with little inconvenience on their part. But asking the same question to every customer won’t give you a detailed view of their sentiment.

To counteract this, businesses can rotate different questions for each customer. That way, they can still receive feedback on a range of segments to ensure they receive a truly granular view of their business. This strategy will let Chick-fil-A collect enough customer feedback that covers a variety of topics to determine if they should expand meal kits across the country, or what adjustments would be necessary before moving forward with the rollout.

Consumers make purchases for a number of reasons. In the quick-service space, which factors are most important?

There are many factors that influence the overall customer experience and, in turn, a customer’s likelihood to return. The quality of the food has to be a top priority for QSRs, particularly with growing focus on transparency around ingredients. Service and atmosphere are other obvious elements.

One other interesting point: while perception of value is a huge factor in customer loyalty and spend in the restaurant space, this isn’t necessarily tied directly to price. All the other elements of the experience have just as great of an impact, if not a greater impact, on a customer’s rating of the value of a meal. And of course, getting feedback around special offers and promotions is incredibly helpful in understanding whether customers feel like they’re getting a good deal. But it certainly doesn’t have to be a race to the bottom—quite the contrary.

With this in mind, Chick-fil-A can use customer feedback from Atlanta to monitor these aspects by asking questions like “How would you rate the quality of the food/ingredients?” “Do you feel the meal kit gives good value for the price?” “Had you heard about our meal kits before visiting the store today?”

This can help Chick-fil-A determine how to move forward if they decide to sell the meal kits in other locations, either investing in further promotions and special offers, or doing more to highlight freshness and quality of ingredients, for instance.

How can a strategic customer feedback plan prove the meal kits program is working across the board?

Purchasing a product is about more than just the product itself. People may like the meal kits themselves, but there may be something about the experience they’d like to change. For example, customers may want to see these meal kits offered at grocery stores for an all-encompassing one-stop-shop.

Chick-fil-A can use customer feedback to determine sentiment about the way they sell their meal kits, the packaging, clarity of the directions, overall service and much more. Asking about whether customers like the meal kits is only part of the answer—gathering feedback that highlights a variety of areas is the key to seeing the whole picture.

Georgina Nelson is the CEO and founder of TruRating, a customer feedback solution. Headquartered in the U.K., TruRating has operations across Australia, Canada and the U.S. With a background in law and an eye for the consumer, Georgina saw the need for reliable, validated customer reviews that would better serve businesses, thus launching TruRating in 2014.
Outside Insights, Story, Chick-fil-A