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The Chick-fil-A way of handling a complaint, by David S. Allen

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Chick-fil-A took away my coleslaw.

At the drive thru last month, they told me right over the speaker.  No more coleslaw.  It is off the menu.  And just like that, my Chick-fil-A go-to order for many years went poof.  No more “Number one combo with slaw instead of fries and an unsweet tea.”

It’s not that I’m wild about the Chick-fil-A coleslaw, or anyone else’s slaw for that matter.  But I figured it was a healthier alternative to waffle fries and it was still a real side item.  For me, yogurt parfait or a salad with fruit and nuts don’t do it.  This is a chicken place, not a garden club. 

So I emailed Chick-fil-A and kind of griped about the change.  Their quick response didn’t surprise me.    

“Dear Mr. Allen: 

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A.  You are very important to us and we appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us. 

Removing Cole Slaw from the menu was a difficult decision. We know many of our customers loved our Cole Slaw, yet we have also heard from our customers that they are looking for new tastes and healthier ways to eat in our restaurants. It is important to us to provide a wide variety of menu options and this will occasionally mean we have to remove one menu item to make room for another.

We will be announcing some new items soon, and hope everyone will be as excited about them as we are. We have also provided our recipe for Cole Slaw http://inside.chick-fil-a.com/coleslaw-recipe/ so our customers may make the dish at home.”

Bingo.  THAT is how you do it.  Don’t just tell a customer why the coleslaw is off the menu, show him how he can make it himself. 

Chick-fil-A is one of those rare companies that understands the magic of true customer service.  I have never seen their actual process for responding to problems or complaints but I think it is this.  Bear with me.  It’s complex.

--Have a process for listening to customers. 

--Respond to those customers quickly and personally.

--Be nice, be friendly and do something a little extra.

I will likely never make the Chick-fil-A coleslaw.  But I can guarantee I’ll be back in that drive thru.