Published: 8 years ago

My Pleasure

Chick-Fil-A is the undisputed customer-experience king in the fast food world.  Any Chick-Fil-A.  Any employee.  Any day…you’re going to get a high-quality experience.

“Um, yeah.  I have this coupon for a free chicken sandwich, but it’s for another Chick-Fil-A across town.  Is it okay if I use it here?”

Absolutely.  It’s my pleasure.

“And I should probably mention that it expired in 2004.  Still okay?”

My pleasure.

“And instead of a chicken sandwich I want a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.”

My pleasure.

Chick-Fil-A wants me to have it my way.  (You hear that, creepy plastic-headed King?  I’m talkin’ to you.)  And they’ll do whatever it takes for me to have it my way.  Accept another coupon that’s “exclusive” to another CFA unit?  Not a problem.  Change the actual item the coupon is for?  Sure thing.  And they do it with a smile on their face every time.  Every.  Single.  Time.

We have some Chick-Fil-A managers at the Summit, and I’ve asked them, “What’s the secret?”  Their answer:

Mind control and hallucinogenic drugs administered by Truett Cathy.

Actually, that’s not true at all.  What is true is that the “My pleasure” culture is ingrained from the first days at the chicken kingdom.  The customer’s experience is key.  The employee is there to serve, not to be served.  In his 1989 book It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, Cathy recounts an interview that his son Dan granted to Business Atlanta. Dan said that “The pure and simple bottom line…is a commitment to people…The restaurants are simply the vehicles by which we serve that purpose.”

If you’re a pastor, people are – in a way – your business.  While Jesus is the one we serve, people are the ones we connect back to Jesus.  If we dismiss people as necessary evils of our kingdom work, we betray our motivations as being something other than the gospel to which we’re called.

Is serving people your pleasure?  Is your church, your ministries, your programming and end to themselves, or do they serve as vehicles to introduce people to Jesus?

10 Comments.
  1. Josh Dyson says:

    Look, I love Chick-fil-A as much as (or more than) the next guy. I appreciate their intentionality in the area of customer service and, as we call it, first impressions. But I do have to warn those of us who don’t really consider ourselves “alive” before our first cup of coffee — all that cheer, first thing in the morning, can sometimes bring out a nasty grinch in me (all intentions aside). It’s as though the guy from Chotchkie’s is going to pop up and make his diagnosis any moment.

    I wonder – are we training the First Impressions folk to bend over backwards for our guests without being condescendingly, patronizingly cheesy?

    • Danny says:

      Well, Mr. Coffee, what is your impression of that last question? What’s your experience been with the patronization factor at the Summit?

      Seriously Josh, I think it’s a fair question. How would you rate the team here at Brier Creek? (Don’t answer that until you’ve had your second cup of Kona.)

  2. jonathan lunn says:

    sorry Danny, im just not going to stand at the doors Sundays going, ” its my pleasure to welcome you” i’l stick with my Good Morning!

  3. jonathan lunn says:

    fine, if iv had my coffee, i’l make it GOOOOD MORNING!

  4. Josh Dyson says:

    You know, a bag of Kona might be nice. Pricey (if you want the real deal, that is) but very good.

    In my experience, our greeters are very genuine. Perhaps the secret is in not over-training it. That is, don’t make your greeters self-conscious about their greeting methods, and they’ll naturally tend toward the non-offensive and often authentic “Good Morning” with a smile.

    So, my experience has been favorable – and perhaps that is evidence that we’re training well. Maybe it’s just my personal experience with the 54/55 Chick-fil-A at 6:45am which has me wincing at the thought of those same people welcoming me to church…

  5. Zack says:

    Speaking from the perspective of someone who’s fairly new to the Summit, I don’t feel like the FI folks are condescending or patronizing.

    The ‘guest services’ factor at the Summit is by far the best I have ever experienced. It is the opposite of the bouncer at the door trying to stop you from bringing in your coffee or entering once the “revered pastor” has begun his message.

    Our very first experience, though, was a little awkward:

    It was raining pretty hard and we didn’t see the “turn your fog lights on” sign anywhere, so we parked in the south 40. We brought the stroller because we didn’t want Josiah to get soaked on the walk. When we got about 50 feet away from the doors, someone met us with an umbrella and walked us to the front door with a big smile, but I guess he assumed we knew what we were doing, because then he moved on to the next family. The folks at the front door were also very friendly, and ushered right inside the sanctuary.

    So we ended up in the sanctuary with a soaked stroller and a baby, and it took a few minutes to find someone who got us pointed in the right direction.

    But at the end of the day, I think the ‘overwhelming mega-church’ factor is just always going to play a role when someone visits the Summit for the first time. I think the First Impression folks do a great job!

  6. Andy Metzger says:

    Interesting topic Danny! The Chik-Fil-A responses have been a hot topic of debate in my house lately, and we’ve had a lot of fun with them. I think it’s funny you bring it up. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the robotic and required “my pleasure” comments. I often question the authenticity of a 16 year olds “my pleasure” response when the crazy soccer mom changes her already “special order” 7 times and is not even trying to stop the kids from destroying the cow mascot.

    But here’s the kicker. Even if we know that this congeniality is clearly required, and authenticity is then questionable, why does it still work?

    My takeaway? People deserve and appreciate being served in our churches, but they aren’t idiots…and sooner or later pick up on inauthenticity. As far as the First Impressions team at Summit (as well as everyone else there), I think they’re doing great and I love the culture of servanthood that has been created! Keep it up!

  7. Lauren Dyson says:

    OK, so I know this post isn’t supposed to be about just Chickfila, but I need to defend my Chickfila workers at 54/55. Yes, they are peppy at an early hour in the morning, and that annoys my husband 🙂 But I frequented that Chickfila so often during my pregnancy that Priscilla learned what I order every time and would ask how my pregnancy was going. After Andrew was born, I get Chickfila breakfast about 2 times a month rather than 2 times a week, but Priscilla still remembers me and asks about my baby boy. THAT is awesome and serves as a great example for our first impressions team 🙂

  8. B the Builder says:

    Just a little rabbit trail, but I like Bojangles sweet tea better than Chik Fil A’s and their seasoned fries are pretty much awesome. So that keeps me coming back. In other words, praise God we have awesome preaching and we are led by a man who digs into the Word and doesn’t sugar coat it. if that is what people are looking for, you know they’ll keep coming back…. And they do!

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