Chick-fil-A may have invented the chicken sandwich, but it’s almost equally well-known for outstanding customer service.
Dee Ann Turner, a long-time Chick-fil-A executive and vice president, explains how they got customer service to be a brand characteristic and how they replicated it among tens of thousands of often very young employees and legions of customers.
Welcome to Episode 294 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.
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CNLP 263: Horst Schulze with Lessons from the Ritz-Carlton on Coaching the Best from a Team When You Can’t Pay Top Wages, What Guests Really Want, How to Satisfy a Customer and What to Do with Customer Complaints
3 Insights from Dee Ann
1. Culture is the most important thing for an organization to get right
There are a ton of different ways to define a company’s culture. Dee Ann has heard all of them, and her favorite definition is, “Culture is the soul of the organization.” It is what the organization is at its deepest core. A company culture decides the identity of the organization, and that identity determines how the organization operates.
So, when Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” he is absolutely right. Without a strong culture, you cannot attract and keep the people that are going to create, develop and execute that strategy. A strong culture that attracts great talent is really, really important because without a strong culture, people don’t know how to operate. Without a great culture, there is no great strategy.
2. Bad cultures are based on rules, good cultures are based on values
So, how do you identify if an organization has a good or bad culture? Dee Ann has learned that bad cultures are based on rules, and good cultures are based on values. Usually, the organizations that create a rule for every situation end up destroying their culture. Their people are no longer focusing on the mission but focusing on the rules they can’t break.
Dee Ann told a story how early on in her career, she was so brainwashed by a bad culture that she prioritized her boss’s nap over the FBI needing to talk to him. This a prime example of just how controlling and dangerous a culture is; it removes all freedom for employees to think and turns them into puppets controlled by the rulebook.
3. If you want to deeply engrain values into employees, teach them a principle, not a rule
The best company cultures are company cultures that are run by values, not rules. If an employee is driven by values that they agree with and care about, they are passionately chasing the mission and are excited to be in the room.
So, how do you get the next generation of employees excited about the strategy? You explain the ‘why’ behind the strategy. Explain that you’re in business because you have customers. Customers provide the paycheck. Customers provide the next promotion. Customers pay for the Christmas party. Customers pay for the ski outing. Customers are why you’re here. It truly becomes ‘your pleasure’ to serve. Communicate that to them in everything you do.
Quotes from Episode 294
Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?
Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.
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Next Episode: Rich Birch
Has the multi-site movement peaked? What’s next for church leaders and other organizations that want to expand and add locations? Few leaders understand multi-site as well as Rich Birch, and in this interview, Rich opens his notebook on decades of lessons helping mega-churches expand, grow and reach more people.
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