Two constant themes to any Customer Service program I present are “corporate culture” and “empowerment.” Not many companies get these right; thus not many companies give very good customer service.

One company/ culture I really admire (there are many, such as Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Outback Steakhouse to name a few) is that of Chick Fil-A. If you remember my last two articles on IndySmallBiz describing bad service at Sprint and Chase Bank, you’ll love my the experience I had last week at the Chick-Fil-A restaurant on 86th east of Keystone in Indy.

I’d always had a great experience at whatever Chick-Fil-A restaurant I’d visited. Circle Center Mall. Westfield. You name it. This time they made a mistake. After all, we’re all human. But it was the way a young lady responded to the error that will keep me coming back.

I’d ordered a spicy chicken sandwich. When I opened the package, I had chicken strips. I didn’t want to wait in the car line again so I entered the restaurant. Luckily it was after lunch rush so the counter wasn’t too crowded. I Caught the eye of a young lady and explained my problem. She apologized, told me I’d have my sandwich very quickly (it was less than 30 seconds), insisted I keep the chicken strips and gave me a coupon for a free sandwich—all with a smile. I was back in my car within a minute after leaving it!

There are so many great elements at work here. Obviously the company hired a fine employee in this young lady. The trained her well. And they did the toughest thing—they EMPOWERED her to keep mistakes from turning into problems.

In my Power Point presentation, I use a slide that features a quote from Dan Cathy, son of Chick-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy. It’s a “CULTURE” quote. Dan says, “Our light shines brightest when it isn’t on”, referring to the fact that the chain closes its stores on Sundays. That’s the right thing for this particular chain to do. It helps bring it the kind of employees it wants. And its customers appreciate it as well.

Beyond that, the organization EMPOWERED that young lady to take care of the problem right then and there, as well as training her how to do it. Mary Kay Ash was once asked how she had become so successful. Her answer: “I tried to hire really nice people and then tried to let them be as nice as they could be” That’s what Chick Fil-A does.

Hats off to a great organization AND corporate culture!