Lessons Learned from Popeye’s and Chick-fil-a

Some Popeye’s and Chick-Fil-A locations took their Twitter war to the street… the street sign that is.

On August 12, 2019, Popeye’s Chicken introduced a new product to the U.S. No one really noticed until Chick-fil-a sent a tweet reminding everyone they invented the chicken sandwich. Popeye’s retweeted the post with a short but effective “Y’all Good?” response and the nation’s latest fast-food Twitter war ensued. 

Soon, everyone from chef Emeril Lagasse to singer Charlie Puth jumped in on the hype and the new Popeye’s chicken sandwich became such a hot commodity that it sold out in many locations, including all locations in Cleveland, Ohio. The line to get into a Popeye’s in North Carolina over the weekend was so long that a teenage boy took it upon himself to help unregistered voters sign up while they waited to order the coveted chicken sandwich. 

According to Apex Marketing Group, Popeye’s skirmish with Chick-fil-a, Wendy’s, and other fast-food restaurants earned the fried chicken joint an equivalent of $23.25 million in ad value in media mentions during the first eleven days following the launch of the new product.  That number alone guarantees the “Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019” will go down in marketing history as one of the greatest social media marketing campaigns. 

Popeyes may indeed make history for creating one of socia media’s best marketing campaigns of 2019, but long-term success with any new product requires more than a genius marketing strategy. You see, while Popeye’s appears to be winning the chicken sandwich war, they’re losing major points in customer service, an aspect as important to a restaurant’s success as the taste of their food. And their biggest opponent, Chick-fil-a, happens to be a master at customer service. They even displayed that stellar service to overworked Popeye’s employees during the midst of their “chicken sandwich war.”

Right behind the positive tweets hailing Popeye’s new sandwich as the GOAT comes memes, videos and surprisingly poetic posts detailing the woes of customer service at certain Popeye’s locations. From limiting the number of sandwiches a customer can order to getting into physical altercations with customers, it seems although Popeye’s has definitely mastered the art of a great chicken sandwich, they’re still novices at best at dishing out good customer service. 

Quality customer service may appear to be a thing of the past, but it’s actually more important today than ever. Some people can overlook poor or just plain bad customer service. Others will settle for the second-best chicken sandwich in the country simply because it comes with short wait times, friendly smiles and a happy “my pleasure” response when you thank employees for doing their job. 

Those are the customers you hope will visit your business on a bad day because now another group of customers exist.  We’re talking about the iPhones in hand, social media savvy customers who love nothing more than posting bad customer service moments on every platform available. If they’re not streaming their experience live on Instagram or Facebook, you can guarantee a long, detailed post reviewing their experience will be shared before they leave the store. That one review can destroy every single bit of effort your business has put into creating a great social media marketing strategy. It can also eventually destroy a business. 

Is great customer service a priority for your business? Do you understand the qualities of good customer service? Stay tuned for a follow-up in which we’ll discuss what it takes to provide the best service possible to your customers.

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