chris likes spicy chicken

Chick-Fil-A is rolling out their new spicy chicken in a very smart way.

The chicken sandwich purveyors have been promoting a microsite, The microsite allows you to find a local restaurant and then choose a reserved time to come in for a free sandwich this week (the official launch date of the new sandwich to the general public is next Monday, June 7)

After reserving your time, the site allows you to share and invite others to join you through email, Facebook, and Twitter. (I discovered the giveaway through one of the people I follow on Twitter)

And while microsites and social media sharing is pretty standard marketing fare, it’s the little things that made the difference.

The staggered reservation system is a smart idea to maintain pacing and supply to avoid a free chicken disaster like that “other” chicken place had. After making the reservation, I got an email “from” the actual manager of the Chick-fil-a location. While it was obviously an automated bot, it felt a little more personal. I also received reminder emails about my scheduled lunch time.

Stop there and it would be a good case study for a product introduction giveaway. But the actual experience of going to the restaurant was what really impressed me with Chick-fil-a.

UPDATE: The following may be unique only to this location. Apparently, this (smart) franchisee did some of this added stuff instead of it being corporate direction. Reports from other locations don’t match up. Caveat lector.
Spicy VIPWhen I walked in, there was an employee whose dedicated job was greeting and checking in the “Spicy VIPs”. (Remember, for all intents and purposes, Chick-fil-a is a counter service fast food place.) He seated me in a special cordoned-off section of the restaurant reserved for the spicy chicken folks. The tables in this area had been decorated and covered with tablecloths. Another employee came over and asked me what I wanted to drink and what toppings I wanted on the sandwich. The employee delivered the food on a plate (no cardboard boxes or paper wrappers) and then went after the napkins and condiments I needed. Managers were making rounds talking with the group and gathering feedback about the sandwich. At the end, I was asked to fill out a short survey about the sandwich.

When I consider some of the other restaurant openings / new product introductions I’ve been invited to, it’s easy to see the thought and care that was put into this launch. I have walked in other places where the employee behind the counter didn’t even know about a new product test. And if they did, it was slapped together and thrown on a tray.

You could actually see this being effective for this Chick-fil-a location as the “normal customers” kept looking over into our section to see what was going on and asking how they could get involved.

Spicy VIPThis is how you develop positive buzz and generate WOM. When you deliver an average product and experience to the early parts of the adoption curve, those users are not likely to talk about a typical encounter. But when you make it just slightly more interesting and make absolutely sure those people have a good experience, they’ll share it.

As I’ve said many times, the customer experience one of the most important (and overlooked) part of marketing.

btw — the spicy chicken sandwich is very good with a nice heat kick. It’s spicy without that bitter chemical heat that many places use for heat.

Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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4 comments on “chris likes spicy chicken
  1. Jimmy says:

    Jimmy likes the obscure Seinfeld reference.

  2. Cool. Thanks for writing this. I got an invite, but like a dope, i signed up for Tuesday 2-5 p.m. and couldn’t make it. I figured it was “just a free sammich” so no biggie.
    Now I feel left out.
    Very cool idea!

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