Emotional Connections Trigger Customer Loyalty at Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick has come a long way since its inception in 2008. Its humble beginnings have played a role in the brand loyalty gained in less than a decade.

Loyalty360 talked to Ali Rauch, director of marketing for Chicken Salad Chick, about this strong emotional bond the company has with its customers and prestigious Platinum Award in the Customer Insights category it received at this month’s fourth annual Loyalty360 Awards held at the 10th annual Loyalty Expo.

“At Chicken Salad Chick, our guests are truly incredible,” Rauch explained. “They don’t just like our food and eat with us. They have an emotional connection to us and that’s what makes me most proud. All of our chicken salads are named after real people who helped us get our start, and they each have their own personality in a sense. Because of that, guests relate to their favorite flavor and have that connection. We were started by a stay-at-home mom, turned single mom, so people who have experienced something similar to that can relate and, in turn, want to get behind us and help us succeed. Our story and how we got our start is very genuine. We didn’t make it up. It just happened. Because of that, it’s relatable, it’s emotional, and it connects us with our guests in a very real way.”
Chicken Salad Chick, a fast casual chain of chicken restaurants based in Auburn, Alabama, has more than 65 locations across the Southeast. The company has currently sold 146 franchises to be developed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Texas.

At Chicken Salad Chick, customer insights key “almost everything we do,” Rauch noted.
“Whether we use our knowledge about our guests to help select a location or city to go into, to decorate our restaurant, or to tweak our menu, we use those insights to improve the guest experience,” she said. “For example, we learned from customer surveys we completed that our guests were looking for more variety, so we introduced some exciting new additions in recent months, and are fulfilling those desires. We also learned that 40 percent of our guests are moms with kids at home, so we launched a kids’ menu and the ‘Little Chicks Club’ to help make moms feel like Chicken Salad Chick is a place for them and their kids to find something they love.” 
While those insights and initiatives will drive customer loyalty, Rauch said, “we’ve also learned other insights and actually use programs within our loyalty program to drive further engagement and visits. When we sent out that survey, for example, we offered 25 bonus points to anyone who completed it. We had thousands complete the survey in a matter of hours, and we learned that our guests will do A LOT for just a few points. That led to the creation of our Double Points Day (DPD) program, where we offer 2 points per $1 spent to any guest who dines with us on that special day. Our DPD program has led to our locations experiencing anywhere from 25 percent to 95 percent sales increase on that given day. Programs and results like this are invaluable.” 
Rauch said the CravingCredits loyalty program launched in March 2015.
“We’ve gone through two different designs since launch, but it’s been subtle changes from a UI perspective,” she said. “The biggest change we introduce is when we offer a new rewards store, which we are actually launching in the next few weeks, and is the first time we’ve done that since launch. We listened to guests. They wanted to get free Chick Tervis Tumblers as a reward, and starting now, they can! Online ordering is coming soon as well, so that’ll be a new addition to the app capabilities as well. We try not to change it too often, but we do want to continue to incorporate new technologies that give our guests what they’re looking for.” 
What does the Loyalty360 Platinum Award in Customer Insights mean to the company?
“This award means so much more to me because our loyalty program, CravingCredits, has been my ‘baby’ since its inception,” Rauch said. “From program details and design to exciting initiatives that we’ve implemented since launch, those are all my projects. To see it come to fruition as it has, and to be honored in such a way by my peers in the loyalty space, it’s incredibly exciting and humbling.”  

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