Creating the personal connection.  Chick-fil-A vs. Smashburger.

Smashburger v Chick

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echos are truly endless. – Mother Teresa

Chick-fil-a and Smashburger. These two fast food chains are currently tops on my go-to list when I am traveling. Any time I am in Denver I try to go out of my way to ensure I can stop at Smashburger and get one of my favorites and whenever I am traveling through the Minneapolis airport I like to stop at Chick-fil-A for one of their unique chicken sandwiches and stellar service reputation.

If you have traveled through the Minneapolis MN airport over the past year or so you may have noticed the renovation in the food court area in the center of the C terminal. On a recent trip I was searching out the Chick-fil-A that had been located there. It was my first visit to the C terminal since the renovations had taken place and I was delighted to find that they had include BOTH a Smashburger and a chick-fil-a right next to each other. Now I had a real dilemma. Smashburger is a wonderful greasy delight and Chick-fil-a is a unique take on the chicken sandwich. After enduring a considerable soul fight, I decided to “Eat Mor Chikin”.

One thing that they do at Chick-fil-A is to ask for your name when you place an order. For me, this always made me a bit nervous, why do they need my name? In the era of data privacy, cybersecurity, and identity theft I am always a little leery of giving out personal information. Asking for my name to go with my order just feels a little bit intrusive. So several years ago I began playing a game to have fun. On his particular day I told them my name was Elvis and proceeded to order my go-to number one deluxe combo.

Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. – Zig Ziglar

“Elvis” they called out “Number 1 deluxe combo”. Yes that was me. I smiled as I accepted the food. Then, as I was walking to my table “Number 44” was called out from the Smashburger stand. I paused. How impersonal that sounded next to their neighbor calling out “Elvis”. “Number 44” was a very impersonal touch. Number forty-four was not a customer, number forty-four was a number. A number that could be managed by any corporate manager that was trying to maximize throughput and efficiency by the numbers. A formula I knew all too well.

As I sat down it occurred to me that the personalization of the service was indeed a nice differentiator that helped form the connection with the customer, even if I was going by Elvis on that particular day. I smiled. The Chick-fil-a staff shared in the joke…and our bond grew stronger.

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