Chick-fil-A Pushes the Boundaries of Innovation & CX

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Mar 06 2014, Posted by Kristin Harripaul

On December 12, 2012, Chick-fil-A, Atlanta-based inventor of the chicken sandwich, launched “Hatch”—its 80,000 square-foot innovation center focused on exploring new ideas and fostering innovation throughout Chick-fil-A’s physical stores and customer experience.

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a guided tour of Hatch. The completely booked event was hosted by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). Along with a broad spectrum of more than 60 customer experience professionals representing companies like NCR, Boral Industries Inc., Oracle and many others, I was able to see firsthand how Chick-fil-A is pushing the boundaries in experimentation.

The most fascinating part of the tour was the Virtual Simulator, which allows you to experience being inside of a virtual 3-D Chick-fil-A restaurant concept. The experience runs on Autodesk’s Revit Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, and allows for experimentation and testing well in advance of costly prototypes.

It was also great to see all the thought Chick-fil-A put into smart design and environmental sustainability in the space, as evidenced by partnering with local companies and sustainability leaders, Interface (modular carpet) and TOTO (plumbing fixtures).

Chick-fil-A has always been known for its hospitality and consistently great service, in addition to its addictive sandwiches. However, it was exciting to see this conservative company investing in innovation as a core business principle, and leveraging it to impact its customer experience and business processes. This focus on innovation comes from the top, CEO Dan Cathy, and it will be interesting to watch how far they push the limits while continuing to deliver on what have always been the hallmarks of their brand. It will also be interesting to see how other companies and competitors will follow in their footsteps.

Thanks to Leigh Stokes, Mike Wittenstein, Carol Chapman, Carlos Quintero, Lee Kent and Elizabeth Snively for organizing and managing this event! Since this event was so popular, the CXPA and Chick-fil-A will have a repeat performance at Hatch in April. Stay tuned for the date.

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