Quick UX Session: Chick-Fil-A

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Chick-Fil-A (CFA) at any capacity. I am a fan of their food and do appreciate their customer experience.

This exploration makes a couple of assumptions which may not be true as I do not know how the ordering systems work at CFA.

When it comes to fast food, I love me some CFA.

Let’s do a quick UX session involving the ordering (in-person) process at CFA. As an active CFA customer, I’ve noticed some nuances when it comes to the ordering process which has had an impact on my behavior when I order food from them. It’s nothing system breaking, but it is interesting to think about. This short discussion assumes that the reader is familiar with how the CFA app operates.

I quickly put together the diagram above. Here’s what’s going on there…

  • At any point in time, I can be opening the CFA app
  • I enter CFA, approach the line and then the cashier
  • The cashier greets me, asks me if the order is for dine in or carry out, and then asks for my order
  • I let them know that I am redeeming a free treat (whether calendar card or as a frequent visitor)
  • They acknowledge this, and then I place the rest of my order
  • They ask me for my name
  • I scan the CFA card and then give payment (for me, payment is done through Apple Pay so I just hover the phone near the card reader).

Let’s mull over this workflow for a minute. The point that requires attention is the area where I am letting the cashier know that I am redeeming a CFA treat. Unless I knew that I had a treat to redeem, then I would have to have the app open and browse for any potential treats. Granted, I would venture to guess that one would know what free treats they can redeem as it would influence what they order (unless they’re figuring all that out right at the counter). For me, I always know what I’m going to order. Sometimes I’ll have the app open just to make sure that I can redeem the treat in question before I place my order.

Here’s the kicker: When I order from CFA, I almost always order by combo number (e.g. “#3, no cheese, with a large coffee”). Early on when using the app, I was informed that the register needed to know that I am redeeming a treat first (in this case, a treat that is in the combo), and then to successfully complete the order, I would have to order the two items separately that is in the combo.

In the diagrams above, the leftmost one shows an example of the exchange. Now as a disclaimer, because of my trained behavior, I always follow the leftmost diagram whenever redeeming a treat that is in the combo or if it’s an item that isn’t in the combo, I’ll mention that treat and then order the combo shorthand (e.g. “#3 w/ a Coke Zero”).

The middle and right diagram presents scenarios where the system is modified so that it can handle the redemption of a treat from a combo. This is the assumption that a cashier has the customer explicitly mention they are redeeming a treat because they have to enter that item separately. If they enter the combo and the customer tries to redeem the treat from that combo, then the system does not allow for that (which is why the leftmost diagram is the path the customers have to take).

Let’s pull back to the first diagram and tweak that a bit…

In these scenarios, the customer would somehow scan the card before interacting with the cashier. Pushing the “Scan CFA Card” before the order will allows for several things…

  • Enables the cashier to greet the customer by name (this information is stored in the card)
  • Allows the cashier to let the customer know that they have treats they can redeem.
  • Negates the need for the cashier to ask for the name of the customer at the end of the order taking

The first two bullet points has the potential of further enhancing the customer experience. By acknowledging the customer by their name and in a sense, “celebrating” their achievement by letting them know they have some treats they can redeem, it gives the customer a slightly more catered ordering experience and reduces the cognitive load that was present when figuring out what treats they can redeem and, if paired with a system that can redeem treats whether ordered individually or in a combo, can order normally.

For a restaurant that prides itself in the customer experience, allowing the cashiers to somehow leverage a customer’s info through their CFA card before they order, can enable them to deliver a slightly better experience.

I do recognize there are many questions and concerns about everything I presented. This includes, but not limited to…

  • How can we position the card scanner or hint at customers to scan their card before approaching the cashier?
  • Maybe they share the app with their significant other so the name doesn’t correctly map out to the customer
  • Will a customer use a redeemable treat as soon as possible or wait on it (which can mean pestering them that they have a treat every time they visit a CFA until they use it)?

For now, we’ll leave it at that. As a bonus, here’s an image and a question…

What is wrong with the above photo (this is a common layout in CFA)? Hint: the card reader is NFC enabled.
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