Chick-fil-A and Sonic Drive-In Lead Fast Food Industry in 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings

We recently released the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 268 companies across 19 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Chick-fil-A led the food chains for the third year in a row, landing it in 3rd place overall out of 268 companies across 19 industries. Sonic Drive-In came in a very close second with an overall ranking of 5th. Five other fast food chains earned an “excellent” rating:  Dairy Queen, Starbucks, Little Caesar’s, Subway, and Burger King. The food chains with the lowest rated customer experience are McDonalds, Baskin Robins, and Orange Julius.

Download entire dataset for $395

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Here are some additional findings from the fast food industry: Read more of this post

Report: What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014

1402_WhatHappensAfterGoodBadExperiences_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014. The report, which includes 19 data charts, examines which companies and industries provide the most bad experiences, what impact those experiences have on spending, and how the negative impacts of bad experiences can be mitigated by good service recovery. The report also examines how consumers share their good and bad experiences with companies as well as with other people. Here’s the executive summary:

To understand the effect of good and bad experiences, we asked 10,000 U.S. consumers about their recent interactions with 268 companies across 19 industries. Results show that Internet services and TV services are the industries most likely to deliver a bad experience to their customers, while grocery chains are the least likely to. At the company level, Scottrade had the smallest percentage of customers reporting a recent bad experience with the company and Time Warner Cable had the highest. More than half of the customers who encountered a bad experience at a fast food chain, credit card issuer, grocery store, or hotel either decreased their spending with the company or stopped altogether. However, our data shows that a good service recovery effort can help mitigate a bad experience. Unfortunately, many firms—especially in the banking, Internet services, and TV services sectors—aren’t very good at service recovery. In addition to the consequences of bad interactions, we also examined which channels customers use to share their good and bad experiences and how these changed across age groups. We then compared these results to survey responses from the past two years. We also uncovered a negative bias inherent in how customers provide feedback. ING Direct, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn have the most negative bias in the feedback they receive directly from customers, while Hy-Vee and Hyundai have the most negative bias on Facebook. 

Click link to see full list of industries and companies covered in this report (.pdf).

Download report for $195
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One of the most interesting analyses in the report is the look at how service recovery after a bad experience affects the spending pattern of consumers. Here’s a summary of one of the charts showing just how important it is for a company to recover well after making a mistake:

1402_EconomicsOfServiceRecovery

Here are some other insights from the research:

  • Sixteen percent of consumers who have interacted with TV service and Internet service providers report having a bad experience over the previous six months. Next on the list are wireless carriers, with 12% of their customers reporting a bad experience. At the other end of the spectrum, only 3% of consumers report a bad experience with grocery chains and 4% report having a bad experience with fast food chains.
  • The five companies with the most customers reporting bad experiences are Time Warner Cable (25%), Motel 6 (22%), Coventry Health Care (21%), and Comcast (21%). There were 10 companies with only 1% or less of their customers reporting bad experiences: Scottrade, Chick-fil-A, H.E.B., Whole Foods, ShopRite, ING Direct, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Vanguard, and True Value.
  • More than one-quarter of consumers who have a bad experience stop spending with computer makers, car rental agencies, credit card issuers, hotel chains, and software companies. The impact of bad experiences is less costly for parcel delivery services, wireless carriers, health plans, TV service providers, Internet service providers, and grocery chains, as less than 15% of their customers with bad experience stopped spending.
  • The industries that are the best at responding to a bad experience are investment firms, major appliances, retailers, and car rental agencies. The industries that are the worst at responding to a bad experience are TV service providers, wireless carriers, Internet service providers, parcel delivery services, and health plans.
  • Thirty-two percent of consumers give feedback directly to companies after a very bad experience and 23% give feedback after a very good experience.
  • Overall, 25- to 34-year-olds are the most likely to share feedback about their experiences. After a good experience 57% tell a friend directly, 28% share on Facebook, and 18% put a comment or rating on a review site. After a bad experience, 60% tell a friend directly, 31% share on Facebook, and 20% write a review.

Download report for $195
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The bottom line: Make sure to recover quickly after a bad experience

USAA On Top of 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings

We just released the third annual Temkin Customer Service Ratings of 235 companies across 19 industries based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers (see full list of firms).

Download entire dataset for $295

Company Results

Here are some company highlights:

2103TCSR_TopBottomFirms2103TCSR_IndustryLeadersLaggards

  • USAA earned the top two spots for its insurance and banking businesses. Other companies at the top of the ratings are credit unionsAce HardwareCharles SchwabDollar TreeChick-fil-ASonic Drive-InHy-VeeCostcoTrader Joe’s, Advantage, Publix, and H.E.B.
  • TV service providers and Internet service providers earned nine out of bottom 10 spots in the ratings.
  • For the second straight year, Charter Communications took the bottom spot. The rest of the firms in the bottom five are Time Warner CableCox CommunicationsOptimum (i/o), and CareFirst.
  • The following companies earned ratings that were 15 or more points above their industry averages: USAA (insurance and banking), Alaska Airlines, credit unions, Advantage, Kaiser Permanente, TriCare, Charles Schwab, and Bright House Networks.
  • Five companies earned ratings that were 15 or more points below their industry averages: Apple Stores, US AirwaysRadioShack, HSBC, and 21st Century.
  • Twenty-three percent of companies earned “strong” or “very strong” ratings, while 37% earned “weak” or “very weak” ratings.

Temkin Group also examined year-over-year results for the 171 companies that were in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings and found that:

  • Forty-four percent of companies improved their ratings while 47% experienced a decline.
  • Twenty companies showed double-digit increases, led by: Citibank (banking and credit cards), U.S. Bank, Hyundai, Nissan, Old Navy, Charles Schwab, Continental Airlines, and Piggly-Wiggly.
  • Eleven companies showed double-digit decreases, led by: LG, Giant Eagle, Toshiba, Cox Communications, ING Direct, and Budget.

Industry Results

Here are some industry highlights:

2103TCSR_Industries

  • Grocery chains, retailers, and fast food chains earned the highest average Temkin Customer Service Ratings, while TV service providers, Internet service providers, wireless carriers, and health plans earned the lowest ratings.
  • On average, credit card issuers, banks and fast food restaurants improved the most while appliance makers, TV service providers and investment firms declined the most.

Calculating the Temkin Customer Service Ratings

During January 2013, Temkin Group asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to identify the companies that they had interacted with on their websites during the previous 60 days. These consumers were asked the following question:

Thinking back to your most recent customer service interaction with these companies,
how satisfied were you with the experience?

Responses from 1= “very dissatisfied” to 7= “very satisfied”

For all companies with 100 or more consumer responses, we calculated the “net satisfaction” score. The Temkin Customer Service  Ratings are calculated by taking the percentage of consumers that selected either “6” or “7” and subtracting the percentage of consumers that selected either “1,” “2,” or “3.”

Download entire dataset for $295

Temkin Ratings website

To see all of the companies in the Temkin Customer Service Ratings as ell as all of our other Temkin Ratings and sort through the results, visit the Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: TV service providers deliver terrible customer service

Amazon and USAA On Top of 2013 Temkin Web Experience Ratings

We just released the third annual Temkin Web Experience Ratings of 211 companies across 19 industries based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers (see full list of firms).

Download entire dataset for $295

Company Results

Here are some company highlights:

2013TWERCompanyBestWorst

  • For the third straight year, Amazon.com topped the Temkin Web Experience Ratings while USAA took the next two spots for its bank and insurance businesses.
  • Other companies at the top of the ratings are RegionsU.S. BankeBayAdvantage Rent A Carcredit unions, and QVC.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, MSNHealth NetEarthLink, and Cablevision earned the lowest ratings.
  • Only 6% of companies earned “strong” or “very strong” ratings, while 63% earned “weak” or “very weak” ratings.
  • Amazon.com and USAA’s insurance business earned ratings that were 20 points above their industry averages and eight other companies were at least 10 points above their peers: Kaiser Permanente, Advantage Rent A Car, eBay, QVC, USAA (bank), Sonic Drive-In, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity Investments.
  • Health Net and RadioShack earned ratings that were 20 points or more less than their industry averages and six other companies were at least 15 points below their peers: 21st Century, American Family, Days Inn, Taco Bell, and Kmart.

Temkin Group examined year-over-year results for the 154 companies that were in the 2012 and 2013 ratings and found that:

  • Forty-one percent of companies improved, while 53% declined.
  • Over half of the companies that were in the 2012 and 2013 ratings earned lower scores this year.
  • Eight companies showed double-digit increases: Humana, Old Navy, U.S. Bank, Citibank, TriCare, Blue Shield of California, Toyota, and Safeway.
  • Twenty-one companies declined by at least 10 points and six companies dropped by more than 15 points: Southwest Airlines, MSN, United Airlines, ShopRite, Cablevision, and Bright House Networks.

Industry Results

Here are some industry highlights:

2013TWERIndustries

  • Banks earned the highest average Temkin Web Experience Ratings, followed by investment firms, retailers, credit card issuers, and hotel chains.
  • Five industries earned average ratings of “very weak” ratings: Internet service providers, TV service providers, airlines, health plans, and wireless carriers.
  • Seven industries improved between 2012 and 2013., while nine declined. Airlines suffered the most dramatic drop, losing 15 points.

Calculating the Temkin Web Experience Ratings

During January 2013, Temkin Group asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to identify the companies that they had interacted with on their websites during the previous 60 days. These consumers were asked the following question:

Thinking back to your most recent interaction with the websites of these companies,
how satisfied were you with the experience?

Responses from 1= “very dissatisfied” to 7= “very satisfied”

For all companies with 100 or more consumer responses, we calculated the “net satisfaction” score. The Temkin Web Experience Ratings are calculated by taking the percentage of consumers that selected either “6” or “7” and subtracting the percentage of consumers that selected either “1,” “2,” or “3.”

Download entire dataset for $295

Temkin Ratings website

To see all of the companies in the Temkin Trust Ratings as ell as all of our other Temkin Ratings and sort through the results, visit the Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: Web experiences are heading in the wrong direction.

USAA On Top (Again) in 2013 Temkin Trust Ratings

We just released the third annual Temkin Trust Ratings of 246 companies across 19 industries (see full list).

Download entire dataset for $295

Company Results

For the third straight year, USAA‘s insurance business earned the top ranking in the Temkin Trust Ratings. Here are additional highlights:

1306_13TrustTopBottom

  • Two of USAA’s business areas —insurance and banking—topped the list of companies. USAA’s credit card business also ranked sixth.
  • The other companies in the top 10 of the ratings are credit unions, Publix, H.E.B., Amazon.com, Trader Joe’s, Charles Schwab, and Sam’s Club.
  • HSBC earned two of the bottom three spots for its credit card and banking businesses.
  • TV service providers and Internet service providers dominate the bottom of the ratings, collectively taking 10 of the bottom 15 spots. The other companies in the bottom 15 are US Airways, CareFirst, and T-Mobile.

We also examined year-over-year results for 204 companies that were also in the 2012 Temkin Trust Ratings. Here are some highlights of that analysis:

  • Citigroup in credit cards and Hyundai earned the largest jump (21 points) over their 2012 Temkin Trust Ratings. The other largest gainers are Alaska Airlines, Bank of America in credit cards and banking, Continental Airlines, Avis, and EarthLink.
  • Cox Communications in TV service and Fifth Third in banking lost the most ground (17 points) since last year. The other largest decliners are HSBC in banking, PNC in banking, JCPenneyBright House Networks, and eMachines in computers.

Industry Results

Here are the highlights of the 19 industries in the 2013 Temkin Trust Ratings:

1306_13TrustIndustries

  • Grocery chains earn the most trust while TV service providers earn the least trust from their customers.
  • Six companies earned Temkin Trust Ratings that are 20 percentage points or more above their industry average: USAA (banking, credit cards, insurance carriers), credit unions (banking), TriCare (health plans), and Kaiser Permanente (health plans).
  • Four companies earned Temkin Trust Ratings that are 20 percentage points or more below their industry average: HSBC (banking and credit cards), US Airways (airlines), 21st Century (insurance carriers).
  • Led by credit card issuers and rental car agencies, 14 of the 18 industries in the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Trust Ratings improved over last year’s scores. The only four industries with declining ratings are TV service providers, retailers, appliance makers, and insurance carriers.

Calculating the Temkin Trust Ratings

During January 2013, Temkin Group asked consumers to identify companies that they have interacted with during the previous 60 days.  For a random subset of those companies, consumers are asked to rate companies as follows:

To what degree do you TRUST that these companies will take care of your needs?
Responses from 1= “do not trust at all” to 7= “completely trust”

For all companies with 100 or more consumer responses, we calculated the “net trust” score. The Temkin Trust Ratings are calculated by taking the percentage of consumers that selected either “6” or “7” and subtracting the percentage of consumers that selected either “1,” “2,” or “3.”

Download entire dataset for $295

Temkin Ratings website

To see all of the companies in the Temkin Trust Ratings as ell as all of our other Temkin Ratings and sort through the results, visit the Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: Without a customer’s trust, it’s hard to expect her loyalty.

Advantage Rent A Car and USAA Lead in 2013 Temkin Forgiveness Ratings

All companies, even customer experience leaders, make mistakes. But how much goodwill have companies built up for consumers to forgive them after those miscues? To answer this question, Temkin Group surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers about companies with whom they’ve recently interacted. We used this data for the third annual Temkin Forgiveness Ratings of 246 companies across 19 industries.

Download entire dataset for $295

Company Results

Here are the highlights of the 246 companies in the 2013 Temkin Forgiveness Ratings:

  • Advantage earns top spot. With an excellent score of 61%, Advantage earned the highest rating.
  • USAA dominates forgiveness. USAA grabbed the next three spots for its banking, insurance, and credit card businesses.
  • The rest of the top 10. H.E.B., Blackboard, Aldi, Alaska Airlines, credit unions and Publix round out the top 10
  • No industry owns the top. The top 25 companies in the ratings comes form a variety of industries: Four grocery chains, three airlines, three retailers, two banks, two hotel chains, two investment firms, two software firms, one appliance maker, one auto dealer, one credit card issuer, one fast food chain, one health plan, one insurance carrier, and one rental car agency.
  • HSBC dominates the bottom. HSBC earned the bottom two spots in the ratings for its credit card and banking businesses.
  • Many TV service providers are at the bottom. Six of the bottom 12 companies are TV service providers: Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Verizon, Charter Communications, and Optimum (iO)/Cablevision.
  • USAA most outperforms its peers. We compared company ratings with their industry averages and USAA came in the top three spots, 36 points above in banking, 31 points ahead in credit cards, and 28 points ahead in insurance. Three other companies are more than 20 points above their industry averages: Advantage (car rentals), credit unions (banking), and TriCare (health plans).
  • HSBC most underperforms. HSBC fell the farthest below its industry average in two areas, 23 points behind its peers in banking and credit cards. Five other companies had scores that were 15 points and more below their industry: US Airways (airlines), Motel 6 (hotels), McAfee (software), Kia (auto dealers), and Hertz (rental cars).

We also examined year-over-year results for 204 companies that were in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Forgiveness Ratings. Here are some highlights of that analysis:

  • Chrysler improves the most. With a jump of 29 percentage points, Chrysler is the most improved company.  Six other companies gained 20 points or more: Continental Airlines, Citigroup, Avis, EarthLink, Ameriprise Financial, and Alaska Airlines.
  • US Cellular declines the most. With a drop of nearly 20 percentage points, US Cellular dropped the most in 2013.  Nine other companies fell by more than 10 points: Bright House Networks, HSBC, Cox Communications, Hertz, PNC, SunTrust Bank, Dollar Rental Car, Hyatt, and TD Ameritrade.

Industry Results

Here are the highlights of the 19 industries in the 2013 Temkin Forgiveness Ratings:

1305_TFR_TopBottomFirms

  • TV service providers are unforgivable. TV service providers, as an industry, earned the lowest Temkin Forgiveness Rating of 12%. It was five points below Internet service providers and seven points below wireless carriers.
  • Grocery chains are the most forgivable.  With an average rating of 39%, grocery chains are the highest scoring industry. Three industries are just four points behind: hotel chains, auto dealers, and rental car agencies.
  • Credit cards make the most improvements. Credit cards made the largest improvement, nine percentage points, over the previous year.  Auto dealers, rental car agencies, and airlines also improved by more than five points.
  • TV service providers head in the wrong direction. Led by TV service providers that dropped three points between 2012 and 2013, three industries earned lower scores in 2012. The other industries are retailers and appliance makers.

Calculating the Temkin Forgiveness Ratings

During January 2013, Temkin Group asked consumers to identify companies that they have interacted with during the previous 60 days.  For a random subset of those companies, consumers are asked to rate companies as follows:

How likely are you to forgive these companies if they deliver a bad experience?
Responses from 1= “extremely unlikely” to 7= “extremely likely”

For all companies with 100 or more consumer responses, we calculated the “net forgiveness” score. The Temkin Forgiveness Ratings are calculated by taking the percentage of consumers that selected either “6” or “7” and subtracting the percentage of consumers that selected either “1,” “2,” or “3.”

Download entire dataset for $295

Temkin Ratings website

To see all of the companies in the Temkin Forgiveness Ratings as ell as all of our other Temkin Ratings and sort through the results, visit the Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: Forgiveness is an asset that you accumulate by consistently meeting customer needs.

Chick-fil-A Leads Fast Food Industry in 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings

We recently released the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 246 companies across 19 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers. Here are highlights from the fast food industry:

  • The average rating for fast food industry places it at number two out of 19 industries, only behind grocery chains.
  • The average rating for the fast food industry increased from 74.0% in 2012 to 76.3% in 2013.
  • Chick-fil-A is the top scoring fast food chain for the second straight year, with a rating of 82%. That score puts the fast food chain at #3 across all industries. It also earned the top marks for functional and emotional components in fast foods.
  • Three other fast food chains are in the top 10 in the overall ratings; Dunkin’ Donuts, Little Caesar’s, and Sonic Drive-In are all tied at #7.
  • Arby’s earned the top rating for the accessible component.
  • KFC is the lowest-ranked fast food chain with a rating of 67%. That’s four points below the next lowest rated fast food chain, McDonalds.
  • Hardees showed the largest improvement between 2012 and 2013, gaining 10 percentage points. Next on the list, Jack in the Box increased nine percentage points and Domino’s increased eight percentage points.
  • While no firm declined by very much, three fast food chains dropped three percentage points between 2012 and 2013: Starbucks, Taco Bell, and KFC.
  • Here’s a link to industry results from the 2012 ratings.

Download entire dataset for $395

FastFood1 FastFood2
Temkin Ratings website

Report: 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings

Temkin Ratings website

2013TemkinExperienceRatings_Cover

We published the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings. The report analyzes feedback from 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate 246 organizations across 19 industries. Congratulations to the top firms in this year’s ratings: Publix, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Chick-fil-A, Amazon.com, and Sam’s Club.

Download report for FREE

You can also download the data for $395.

The Temkin Experience Ratings are based on evaluating three elements of experience:

  1. Functional: How well do experiences meet customers’ needs?
  2. Accessible: How easy is it for customers to do what they want to do?
  3. Emotional: How do customers feel about the experiences?

Here are the top and bottom companies in the ratings:

2013TER_BestWorstHere’s how the industries compare with each other:

(NOTE: We have published posts on the detailed results for all 19 industries)

2013TER_IndustriesHere are the companies that are leaders and laggards across the 19 industries:

figure10

In this year’s ratings, 37% of companies earned “good” or “excellent” scores, while 28% are rated as “poor” or ”very poor.” Companies with at least a “good” rating grew by nine-percentage points since 2012 and by 21-points since 2011. Of the 203 companies that are included in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, 57% firms had at least a modest increase. The companies that made the largest improvement over 2012 are Citibank, TriCare, TD Ameritrade, Office Depot, EarthLink, Hardees, and Regions Bank.

Download report for FREE

Get the Data

Do you want to see all of the data? You can purchase an excel spreadsheet for $395…

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 5.42.22 PM

To view all of our ratings (experience, loyalty, trust, forgiveness, customer service, and web experience), visit the Temkin Ratings website

Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: Customer experience is improving, but there’s still a long way to go

Report: Net Promoter Score Benchmark Study, 2012

We just published a Temkin Group report, Net Promoter Score Benchmark Study, 2012. It provides NPS data on 175 U.S. companies across 19 industries. Here’s the executive summary:

USAA took the top two spots for its banking and insurance businesses while HSBC came in at the bottom for banking and credit cards. Our analysis of differences across consumer demographic segments showed that NPS tends to go up with age, doesn’t vary much by income levels, and is often highest with Asians. We also asked consumers what would make them more likely to recommend the companies and found that promoters are more likely to select lower prices and detractors are more likely to select better customer service. While there is some debate about the efficacy of NPS, our analysis shows that promoters are much more likely than detractors to purchase more in the future across all industries. To help you implement a successful NPS program, we’ve included eight tips such as don’t believe in an “ultimate question” and use control charts, not pinpointed goals. The industries included in this report are airlines, auto dealers, banks, computer makers, credit card issuers, fast food chains, grocery chains, health plans, hotel chains, insurance carriers, Internet service providers, investment firms, major appliance makers, parcel delivery services, rental car agencies, retailers, software firms, TV service providers, and wireless carriers.

Download report for $295
(includes the data)

The industries included in this report are airlines, auto dealers, banks, computer makers, credit card issuers, fast food chains, grocery chains, health plans, hotel chains, insurance carriers, Internet service providers, investment firms, major appliance makers, parcel delivery services, rental car agencies, retailers, software firms, TV service providers, and wireless carriers.

The report contains the following components:

  • NPS for 175 companies across 19 industries
  • NPS differences based on age, income, and ethnicity of consumers
  • Improvement areas selected by promoters and detractors by industry
  • Connection between NPS and future purchases by industry
  • Eight tips for implementing a successful NPS program

Figure1Figure4

Download report for $295
(Includes the data)

The bottom line:  Companies need to give customers a reason to recommend them

Chick-fil-A Customers Are Young, Wealthy, Educated, And Healthy

Chick-fil-A has been in the news lately because of the company’s stance on gay marriage. Don’t worry, I’m not going to use this blog as a sounding board for that controversy. But all of that attention made me think about Chick-fil-A. It’s quite a fast food company. Compared with other fast food companies that we’ve examined, Chick-fil-A is:

Consumers seem to really love Chick-fil-A. So I took a look at their customers along with Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. As the title of this blog states, Chick-fil-A customers are the youngest, wealthiest, most educated, and healthiest.

The bottom line: Politics aside, there’s no denying Chick-fil-A’s popularity

Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and Subway Are CX Leaders in Fast Food

This post examines the 17 fast food chains included in the 2012 Temkin Experience Ratings.

Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and Subway earned the top customer experience ratings in the industry and are tied for third spot across all 206 companies. The three leading fast food chains are the only ones in the industry to earn “excellent” customer experience ratings. Eleven of the 17 fast food chains earned “good” ratings while the bottom three—Hardees, Domino’s, and Jack in the Box—earned “okay” ratings.

The overall fast food industry earned the second spot out of 18 industries, slightly behind grocery chains but well ahead of other industries.

Other highlights from the research include:

  • Starbucks and Subway received the highest Functional ratings while Domino’s and Jack in the Box received the lowest.
  • Subway received the highest Accessible ratings while Hardees and Jack in the Box received the lowest.
  • Chick-fil-A and Starbucks received the highest Emotional ratings while Hardees received the lowest.

Do you want to see the data? Go to the Temkin Ratings website where you can sort through all of the results for free. You can even purchase the underlying data if you want to get more access.

The bottom line: Most fast food chains deliver solid CX

A Branding (Not) Lesson From KFC

The Association of Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchisees is suing Yum! Brands, owner of the KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) chain, for control of the advertising direction of the brand. The franchisees do not agree with the parent company’s advertising push towards healthier, grilled chicken.The big push from the franchisees came when Yum Brands! went forward with an advertising campaign called “Unthink KFC.”

My take: Let me start with some (of my) basic definitions:

  • Brands: The set of promises that the company explicitly and implicitly makes to its customers about the products, service, and behavior of the company and its employees. Brands represent the fabric that aligns all employees with customers in the pursuit of a common cause. Without a strong brand, companies can quickly go awry (see my post on Starbucks’ brand issues). Why? Because brands define a powerful roadmap for employees to meet a clear set of expectations for customers.
  • Branding: The marketing and advertising efforts that communicate and reinforce elements of brands.

With these defintions in mind, the “Unthink KFC” branding campaign seems clearly misguided. What elements of the brand was it reinforcing — that KFC has no brand?!? That leaves KFC with absolutely no purpose. So it’s no surprise that franchisees are upset.

If you want to shift your brand, then you need to use branding to communicate a clear picture of the new brand.

Here are three questions that you should ask (and make sure that you can answer “yes” to) before you launch any branding campaign:

  1. Do the branding messages support a brand promise?
  2. Do employees buy-in to (and believe in) the branding messages?
  3. Do the messages resonate with target customers?

The bottom line: Focus on your brand more than your branding.

They Really FU At The Drive Thru

One of the lines that I always remember in Lethal Weapon 2 is when Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) tells Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) that “They f*** you at the drive through.” It turns out that Pesci was right in his assessment of fast food experiences. According to a new report from QSR Magazine, here’s how often fast food restaurants give customers what they ordered in a drive through.Drive through

My take: First of all, congrats to Chick-fil-A which actually came out on top of QSR’s overall analysis. The fast food restaurant made a mistake in less than 1 out of 25 customer orders. The big burger chains, McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s, got it wrong for about 1 in 10 customers while KFC, Checkers, and Popeyes messed up about 1 in 7 orders.

I can’t imagine running any business where 1 out of 10 of my customers (or more) didn’t get what they ordered. That’s terrible! Any company should, at a minimum, consistently give customers what they pay for. It doesn’t take any customer research to realize that this is an incredibly important (and broken)  moment of truth.

The bottom line: Check what’s in your bag before you drive away.

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