Customer Experience News & Trends

Think you know your customers? Then put yourself to this test

6. Implement

The survey was mostly online, and customers were invited to be part of it on the bottom of their receipt. They could respond online or over the phone and would receive an incentive (such as a free sandwich) for participating. Employees were asked to encourage customers to participate by pointing it out to them when they interacted at Arby’s sites.

But Sliker and his colleagues wanted more feedback than surveys. So they increased their number of field visits to see customers at Arby’s — to talk with them and observe what they do and how they react to the facilities and the employees.

And this is where the real eye-openers occurred.

“We found out some things we never realized,” Sliker said. “Customers waited for help. They complained that the staff wasn’t attentive because employees were on cell phones. We could’ve never imagined they were on cell phones if we didn’t hear and see it for ourselves!”

Another huge lesson: Sliker said they found out that customers were sometimes told to pull over and wait for food from the drive through line even when no one was waiting behind them because employees felt they had to keep down the drive-through time.

What’s worse, Arby’s found out that employees then forgot to take food out to waiting customers nearly 40% of the time.

“We’d been emphasizing the wrong things to our employees,” Sliker said.

7. Adjust and correct

480601871Arby’s used the feedback to change two things: the Customer Perception Measurement Program Process and the customer experience.

Whatever early indicators they got on what wasn’t working, had them making adjustments. For instance, if they noticed that one restaurant wasn’t getting much feedback, they knew to reintroduce the benefits of the program to employees and encourage them remind customers to do the survey. Or, if they saw consistently low scores in service at one location, they beefed up training on soft skills at that location.

8. Expand

Once the feedback started flowing in — both negative and positive, but all useful – and Arby’s wanted every location and employee to get involved.

To do that, they offered incentives to leaders who would be “early adopters” and were willing to have their locations evaluated, and more importantly, make improvements based on the feedback.

Eventually, the program was rolled out to all locations, and feedback continues to roll in.

9. Learn

The feedback has been a huge, tangible success.

“Sales rose as a direct result of the improvements we made based on the feedback,” said Sliker. “Overall customer satisfaction was at 56% and it rose to 79%. It’s an ongoing  effort to take it up.”

So far, these are the most important lessons Arby’s has learned about its customers and business:

  • Customers notice everything. “If we take one slice of cheese off a sandwich to save money, they notice,” Sliker said. “If we change a step in the greet-order-thank you process, they notice. So we have to evaluate everything closely before changing.”
  • You can’t argue with customer perception. What they believe is their reality. So Arby’s must make efforts to give customers great experiences.
  • Customers want to be part of your organization. Once Arby’s started asking for customer feedback, they got it. Customers become more engaged and loyal when they feel their thoughts are valued.
  • Not every employee is cut out for the job. The surveys helped the organization identify employees who weren’t exactly suited for front-line customer service work (such as those who were on cell phones). Customers were more than willing to point it out, so leaders could identify who was driving business and who was destroying it — and do something about it.
  • More customer surveys are more valuable than a few field visits. Continually hearing from customers is a better tool for gauging what they want than trying to observe them from time to time.
  • Keep it simple. All surveys should take no more than five minutes to complete and should include some kind of incentive. Then customers are inclined to participate.

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