There are No Accidents


“There are no accidents” – Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda

Does anyone else love Chick-fil-A sandwiches?

I remember going with my Mom to Columbia Mall in Maryland and stopping for samples of Chick-fil-A nuggets in the food court. Years later, tasting that delicious recipe again brought me back to my childhood.

While I don’t own a Chick-fil-A franchise and am not affiliated with the company in any way (including any controversial political views), I do admire their approach to not only their product – chicken sandwiches – but also to service. When you arrive at any Chick-fil-A restaurant, there are some service elements that you assume will be there, like the cashier’s always saying, “my pleasure” when you say thank you for extra sauce or a refill on a drink.

But, how do they deliver that experience every day at every location? The answer is that it is deliberate and not done by accident.

Take a look at the Chick-fil-A Service and Hospitality training video posted on YouTube:

In this video, each element of the guest experience is described both from the perspective of the team-member and of the guest. It makes service very easy to understand. The narrator says, “Just like we have a tried and true recipe for our crave-able Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, we have a tried and true recipe for our service.” The recipe consist of what the company calls the “Core 4” and the, “3 required second mile service behaviors”, which they explain both in words and in practice.

Ingraining and aligning these universal behaviors in a large organization is no easy feat. But, Chick-fil-A has managed to deploy it across their restaurants almost universally. This happens because team-members understand what is expected of them and re-enforce these behaviors among each other. What Chick-fil-A and other companies known for their excellent customer service (Starbucks and The Ritz Carlton come to mind) have figured out is how to create standards that are universally accepted and encouraged not only from management but peer-to-peer.

This system is deliberate and strategic. The goal is provide an excellent customer service experience along side an excellent product and these companies have figured out how to deploy an experience in addition to a product.

For most businesses, they have employees that create an excellent experience and then the next shift comes in and the experience is completely different. Has that ever happened to you? Maybe you go to a restaurant one evening and have great service, only to come back the next week and have poor service. When I see that happen, it feels to me like on of my experiences was probably “by accident”. I really just do not know whether the accident was the good or the bad experience!

That is why it is so important to build reliability into the customer service experience. To do that, many companies emphasize not only behaviors, but values, and room to use those values to deliver the customer experience in new and innovative ways. This is only done through an intentional and deliberate hiring, orientation, training, and engaging leadership model.

TAKE-AWAY: In successful businesses, there are no accidents. They deliver an excellent experience carefully, deliberately, and nearly universally without variation. In our organizations, we must create systems and culture to deliver the desired experience every time. Our customers deserve it!