I don’t know if you noticed, nor if this is a national indicator, but both In-N-Out and Chick-fil-a seem to becoming more high touch rather than high-tech.
In both cases they are bringing their team members outside to greet the cars in the drive through to take their orders. At my local In-N-Out they’ve had someone out to greet cars for a while now, and my local Chick-fil-a has had a podium with an employee outside to take your payment. Now, Chick-fil-a has someone out by the squawk box to take your order and someone outside to take your payment. In addition, from the time of the order, they are addressing you by your name.
At the order they ask your name, by the time I got to the payment podium they said, “Hi John, you ordered _______, is that right? That will be $______. And then, when I got to the pick up window, they said, “Hi John, you ordered _____is that right? How’s your day going so far?”
Is this a sign that the impersonalization of technology has reached its limit? Is there a need for personal connection that has been lost because of technology? I believe the answer in both cases is yes.
As humans we crave connection. We desire a personal touch. We want to know there is a caring person who is taking care of our needs, whether it be a simple fast food order or help if we’re trying to find something at a retail store.
Personal care by far exceeds impersonal efficiencies. Personal care is memorable, impersonal efficiencies are forgettable. Personal care stands out, impersonal efficiencies are white noise. I care when someone cares for me, but what do I care about a squawk box? Nothing.
You may have noticed Wal-Mart is gradually doing away with the personal checker and opting for more electronic check out stations we have to use. Does that make me care more for them or less? The answer is obvious. The other day I was checking out my stuff at impersonal Wal-Mart, when a real personal checker came up to me and said, “let me help you with that” and she proceeded to distract me from the impersonal because she gave me personal attention.
If you want to create customer loyalty show you care by being personal at every encounter.