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Spend Time in the Field and Get a Customer Service Education

Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits is a popular chain of more than 1,300 restaurants in 20 countries. It promotes understanding between the people in head office and those in the restaurants with a range of vigorous and innovative programs. Its focus on customer service education is exceptional and extends to all levels of the company.

In addition to a Customer Hotline and Mystery Shopper Program, it has a program called “Getting In Touch.” This is a hands-on program that any company can adopt.

“Getting In Touch” helps staff from the Support Center (i.e. Corporate Headquarters) understand what day-to-day life is like in the restaurant. Support Center employees attend a two-day training session where they learn the basics of each restaurant station, including preparation, batter-frying, seasoning, counter and customer service.

They work at least one eight-hour shift in a restaurant each year, serving customers and spending time one-on-one with the Restaurant Manager. The end result is a customer service education that can’t be had in the front office.

Everyone at the Support Center gains hands-on appreciation for what happens in the restaurants every day. As a result, new programs, policies and procedures from the Support Center to restaurants in the field are appreciated, appropriate and effective. This is courtesy of the customer service education Popeye’s provides its employees.

Key learning point for customer service education

To understand its staff and customers, those who work in head office must also spend time in the field. This is simply an irreplaceable customer service education.

Action steps for customer service education

Get your headquarters staff out of the Ivory Tower and into the trenches where real customer contact happens. There is no replacing this type of hands-on experience when it comes to learning customer service.

And think carefully about what you call the Corporate Office. Popeye’s calls theirs the Support Center.

What do you call yours?

Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “UP! Your Service” books and founder of UP! Your Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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