Improving Customer Experience in the Food and Quick Service Restaurant Industry

As consumers become more and more conscious of how they spend their money, it’s especially important to consider how you deliver a restaurant experience to your audience. In their report, “Serving up a great customer experience: Through the eyes of guests,” Deloitte says, “A restaurant’s brand is no longer only about food […] The ability to deliver consistently engaging, memorable experiences that drive a connection to the brand at every touchpoint is more critical than ever.”

I completely agree, and Sherif Mityas and Troy Barnes—two previous guests on my podcast who served as leaders in the food service industry—agree as well.

When I interviewed these leaders in 2020, Sherif was the chief experience officer at TGI Fridays, and Troy Barnes was the chief customer and chief digital experience offer at Pizza Hut Asia Pacific. Sherif and Troy’s high-level positions had them entrenched in work in which they oversaw CX strategies that impacted numerous restaurants. In doing this work, they had to ensure that customers were satisfied, that kitchen standards were up to par, and that they could align their C-Suite colleagues around the future of the experience. This of course, included plans for increased digital integration.

In this compilation episode, you’ll hear Sherif talk about how he assessed the work that needed to be done once he stepped in the role, and you’ll hear Troy discuss the ongoing journey of level setting expectations and uniting the C-Suite around improving efforts. Enjoy the show!

Experience the Customer Journey

Sherif mentions that one of the things he did when he first stepped into his role as the CXO at TGI Fridays was to get the key players in a room to chat and have connections. He wanted to ensure things weren’t done in a silo. “You’ve got to disrupt how people think and who they meet with,” he says in our conversation. Sherif saw that there were numerous journeys that needed to be mapped out, and was able to do so by spending time in the restaurants. He spent time looking at all of the important touch points that customers came into contact with, and how it impacted the customer journey.

“You can only get so much by doing the traditional surveys and focus groups. Because what we’ve found is, what people say, is not always what they do,” says Sherif. In order to improve the customer journey, he and his team spent time watching the behaviors of customers at the stores and also having the dining experiencing themselves. After the collective experiences, they would sharing their data and bucket the information they came across into specific categories.

Once they gathered their insights and felt ready to move on to the next step, they filtered the plan through a 3-gate filtration system. Gate 1 asks if the changes will provide a more frictionless experience; Gate 2 asks if it can be executed, and Gate 3 asks if it will have an ROI. 

When doing CX work, you’ve got to disrupt how people think and who they meet with. –– Sherif Mityas #CustomerExperience Share on X

Read more about Sherif’s CX Transformation with TGI Fridays and the 3-Gate process in our original show notes: CXO Sherif Mityas Shares a 3-Gate System to Filter New Initiatives.


Re-Establish the Baseline

When Troy first stepped into his role at Pizza Hut Asia Pacific as the CCO, he spent some time level-setting expectations. Since he worked with a range of markets containing Pizza Hut franchises, he and his team spent a lot of time reviewing data to determine what a baseline customer experience across the board would look like. Troy mentions that since there was a plethora of data to mine through, they focused on the data that would help them create a better journey for the customer. What would ultimately get customers to “come back and come back more often,” as he says. 

Troy mentions an important concept about organizational transformation. When it comes to working with other C-Suite leaders, he says, “You really need to have a good assessment of what the appetite for change is.” He explains that since he worked with markets spanning different countries, he needed to understand the different appetites and attitudes towards change and do the best he could to bring value to their markets. This work required a great deal of skill because some areas had more of a desire to create “wow” moments, while others wanted to work incrementally. 

When taking this global approach to change, Troy mentions, “I’m still trying to find out with some of our key markets, where that ‘line in the sand’ is. So, with some, you start early, start small, and you collaborate. You work to bring some smaller new stuff, or strengthen some of the existing, until you start to get an understanding that there’s an appetite.”

When it comes to working with other C-Suite leaders, you really need to have a good assessment of what the appetite for CX change is. —Troy Barnes #CustomerExperience Share on X

Troy had plenty to share in our interview, catch the full episode here: Five Leadership Steps to Help You Navigate CX Transformation at a Global Organization

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