Marketing and Customer Service

“Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price- but as a differentiator. If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won’t give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage. But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it’s a much stickier–sustainable–relationship over the long haul. (via Small Biz CRM)”

Bob Thompson


Customer Relationship Management is a way to track and automatically measure marketing campaigns over different networks. Clicks, likes, emails, contest participation, phone call volume, web traffic, sales-based calls, and POS (Point of Sale) transactions are all ways that CRM can be measured and tracked. For Zankou, presently we focus solely on three of these to better track our information: POS volume and tracking which items are selling and which we need to tweak for better performance; emails and written requests from customers, and feedback on social media. I will get into the specific ways we are doing that later.

Written Goals

No one can get to a place there want to be faster than with a clear map, with set deadlines and guidelines about how to go about getting there, with intermissions and explanations throughout the process. This is how I would characterize any great CRM platform. It’s a great way to

  1. Take a great snap-shot picture of where your restaurant is at the moment
  2. Track year to year sales
  3. Compare your different locations and plan your marketing strategy accordingly (for example, if Hollywood is not doing as well as Anaheim a good question would be why?). You may have to dig deeper but ultimately you have to decide on what to do and there are various marketing tools that can help bring that store up to the standards of the other stores.
  4. Show if performance is going up or down, every month.
  5. Show strengths and weaknesses of the products being sold
  6. Illustrate a products life cycle (more on that later)
  7. Written Goals, partnered with clear CRM can help deliver financial goals per quarter and for the entire year. Something amazing happens when companies and people tend to write down written goals.
  8. Track competition (when said competitor is a public company, financial information is made public and can be tracked using 3rd party CRM applications and compared to your company)

The goal of any great CRM software system is to track, record, store in databases, and then data mine the information in a way that increases customer relations (increase the ARPU, and decreased churn). I will talk about what these terms mean soon, as they are important for you to know as a marketing expert and especially for someone that is leading that department, or if you want to learn about it and train everyone else in the organization, as is often the case.

CRM measures different interactions between you and the company in order to increase sales and profit using analytics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) to give the users as much information on where to focus their marketing and customer service to maximize revenue and decrease idle and unproductive contact with your customers. The contact channels (now aiming to be Omni-channel from multi-channel) use such operational methods as contact centers. The CRM software is installed in the contact centers, and help direct customers to the right agent or self-empowered knowledge.[2] CRM software can also be used to identify and reward loyal customers over a period of time.

So for example someone that calls a mobile service, their CRM “contact center” is somewhere in India or the Philippines where they pay low-income workers much less than the minimum wage in the US. These people then see on their computers, using CRM software that tracks your cell phone number, who you are, how much you pay the mobile phone company per month, and other details that can help them solve the potential problem you are talking about.

They are taught how to speak to you, to always calm you down, and to best serve you by whatever means necessary. This is only one kind of CRM

Average revenue per user (sometimes known as average revenue per unit), usually abbreviated to ARPU, is a measure used primarily by consumer communications and networking companies, defined as the total revenue divided by the number of subscribers.

This term is used by companies that offer subscription services to clients for example, telephone carriers, Internet service providers, and hosts. It is a measure of the revenue generated by one customer phone, pager, etc., per unit time, typically per year or month. In mobile telephony, ARPU includes not only the revenues billed to the customer each month for usage, but also the revenue generated from incoming calls, payable within the regulatory interconnection regime.

This provides the company a granular view at a per user or unit basis and allows it to track revenue sources and growth. (Wikipedia, 2014) 

For Zankou, the average revenue per user can be anywhere from $50,000 per year for our biggest corporate clients that use the catering menu every week (quite literally), to the average business man or woman that eats with us once a week.

If someone eats with us once per week, and assuming their average check is something between $10-17, let’s say for the sake of argument it is $12. This person eats with us at least once per week(usually it’s 2-3 times). That is 4 weeks per month and once per week which would be 12x 4= 48. For the entire year that is 48 x (12 months per year) = $576 per year.

That is a lot, even for a single customer, never mind the families, companies, and large corporations we serve every single day, every single year. So for a typical family just do that multiplied by 4, assuming it’s a family of 4 when usually its 4-7 or more. So a family might spend, on average, about $2,304 (4x $576) per year with us. And that’s supposing they only eat with us ONCE A WEEK, which most typically do and more. The point of all this is to say that these customers are all very, very important to us. Almost all of the marketing and leadership experts will tell you that gaining new customer costs 9 times more than keeping an “old” customer. The reasons for this are so blatantly obvious. People are creatures of habit, and the cost of TV ads, billboards, Facebook ads, and even just regular direct mail advertisement with menus are usually very high. The cost of keeping a customer happy is very low: usually replacing a meal if it was bad, being nice and polite, understanding their problems and issues, and usually just LISTENING to what they have to say. So many companies today are failing at LISTENING to what their customers have to say. Maybe it’s this computer culture we have now evolved into, where everything is solved via email, social media, and mostly electronic ways where companies have just succumbed to the notion that they do not have to listen to the customer.

Every time I call a company or have some kind of issue with a local business, it pains me to learn that they don’t even have a phone number listed to call anymore. Typically they will make you jump through hoops, ask you to go online first, where you will be prompted to go through a series of channels, FAQ’s, then be asked to send a form and will be given an electronic “ticket” after after you spell out a word so the computer determines that you’re a human being.

Or you call and call and now they don’t even allow the “0” to signal an operator anymore. They still want you to jump through more hoops. It isn’t enough that they hire low income, low skill workers in far away places but they want you to jump through hoops so that you can even talk to them. This kind of customer service is disgusting and highly aggravating. It is no wonder customer service and satisfaction is going down in almost every industry. I feel this is happening because many CEO’s are getting rid of variance. They all want to solve problems cheaply (outsourced call centers), routinely (they are always available because they work for so cheap), and there is no variation (they are given scripts on what to say to us). I, for one, hate this process and don’t consider this” evolving” at all. I consider it a path that corporations have taken as the lowest common denominator and that true customer service and even the human spirit has suffered as a result.

CEOs hate variance. It’s the enemy. Variance in customer service is bad. Variance in quality is bad. CEOs love processes that are standardized, routinized, predictable. Stamping out variance makes a complex job a bit less complex.

Marcus Buckingham

At Zankou Chicken, we realize we are not perfect and that we are (currently) a small family business. But we have big dreams to grow, but let me assure you right now that regardless of how big we get we will never, ever (so long as I am the Director of Marketing at least) use any

  • Automated answering system. If you call us at any of our locations, a friendly human being will pick up the phone and help you, on the spot and right away. There is no stupid answering system, there is no music or lame directions before you get to a human being. We just pick up the phone and talk to you. This is the way it should be.
  • We will not use automated email answering systems as the main and /or only source of getting back to emails. We may send out an automated email response, but a human being WILL get back to you if your question or concern is not addressed in our FAQ.
  • We will always treat you like a human being, with dignity and respect. We will do our best to serve you, and if we can’t serve you we will direct you to someone else who can (because after all we can’t solve every problem or issue). I have sent many, many customers to different businesses. In many cases these were other kinds of businesses, but in more than a few cases I have even sent people to competing places that can better solve the issue they were having (for example they needed a wedding hall…we are not a wedding banquet service, at least not now)…etc.

It is this kind of love and dedication to customers that people respond very well to. This is why we have such great word of mouth advertising. We are not the best at everything but we would like to think we are good at what we do, and we love helping our customers because they are simply the best fans and customers in the world. We owe them everything. Without the Zankou customer we would for sure not be where we are today. We owe it all to them! They simply are the best people on earth.

But customer service is not JUST about pleasing the customer. It’s about THRILLING the customer. It’s about going BEYOND the call of duty. Here are just a few of the things I have done personally for customers this year (2014) alone. Some of this was done through or Facebook and Instagram, a few were done through our Twitter, and most of it was done in person.

  1. Helped a woman that was stuck with a flat tire in our west Hollywood location. I called AAA, and personally helped her change her tire because she was late to her husband and they had to go to a school function in downtown LA.
  2. Helped a woman who as stuck on the sidewalk in Glendale. We physically pushed her car to help her be on her way (don’t worry we were not injured).
  3. Pushed a stranded vehicle beside the 405 by our restaurant in west LA to help them get off the road. It was a pickup truck (again we were not injured but man that was hard to do in the California heat).
  4. Helped an employee personally deliver a HUGE catering order to a movie studio in Burbank.
  5. Gave away over 60 free T-shirts to our best followers and fans on social media.
  6. Gave away Zankou coffee mugs, mouse pads, sweaters, iPhone covers, and 400 free wraps and over 100 family meals as a give away campaign on Facebook that has stretched for over 3 years now.
  7. Gave away invitations to the wonderful Magic Castle in Hollywood to a few of our best fans as a way to thrill their wives or husbands on a special occasion.
  8. Gave away limited edition, very hard to get (and for us to make) Zankou Zombie T-shirts to contest winners last Halloween
  9. Donated thousands of dollars to many local charities that have asked for our help and participation (their names will remain anonymous, but just check in at any local Zankou and you will more than likely be in the middle of a charity event that we help facilitate at least once a week or so.

The list goes on and on. I like to take pride in the fact that I have been trying to be more and more creative in how we thrill and fascinate our best fans. I truly love them because, I am telling you, our customers never fail us. They have always loved us and supported us throughout the years and through very difficult times. And just as they have been there for us, I would hope we would be there for them as well.

We cultivate the habit of serving I think by doing it often, making it fun, and getting into the mindset that the customer is king.

Consciously or unconsciously, everyone of us does render some service or another. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and it will make not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.”

Mohandas Gandhi

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Three things to remember regarding CRM


1) Keep it simple. If you tell cashiers and chefs to do too many things in too many situations, they will easily get confused. The  POS system should be programmed to make customer service easy and rewarding for customers. There should be built in systems to make sure orders are not messed up, food is not overcooked, and that all to go orders are accurate.


Besides this there should be easy to read, automatic instructions that pop up for every cashier. For example with us, when a customer orders 2 whole chickens the POS system should be programmed to write out a quick prompt for that cashier immediately asking if the customer wants to upgrade their order to the “Big Family Meal”. The Big Family Meal  consists of 2 whole chickens, sides and bread with garlic. It’s a new item we created to cater to large families who love to get a great deal. At less than $40 they can get a package that would otherwise cost them a lot more if they ordered everything separately. Every time a customer orders 2 whole chickens this item should be able to pop up and alert the cashier that it should be offered. What item do you have on your menu you can use this strategy with?


2) Constant and never ending training. Train the cashiers, cooks, line item chefs and kitchen prep employees all the time. Make sure lines of communication are open between the kitchen and the cashiers, because as soon as this line of communication or trust is open you can expect wrong orders to climb and customers to leave. The kitchen guys and the front people should always be coordinating, talking, and working as a team. CRM is not just public relations. It’s the part of marketing that makes sure we take care of complaint issues before they arise. 


3) Create and maintain a line of defense when problems occur. We are in the business of keeping customers happy. Will we always be able to keep them happy? No. And the more successful you are and more customers you have, naturally, the number of possible mistakes will climb. There has to be an established system of dealing with angry customers. Can they email you or otherwise contact you from the company’s web site? They should be able to do so, and without having to jump through hoops.


Are the employees trained on how to handle a phone call from an angry customer? Have you given them the permission and, even better, the authority and responsibility to handle customer complaints when you’re not there? If you haven’t done these things, expect to lose customers. As owners we will never be able to be present in every location, all the time, as we often would love to be. The front line soldiers (employees) need the permission and blessing from you to be able to handle most matters effectively. Will it cost you to give away a free meal to an angry customer? How about a free side for a to go order that was messed up? Yes there is always a cost. But what’s the cost of a lost customer? Thousands of dollars more. Trust me it’s not worth it. Don’t be a stingy owner. Give your people the ability to handle issues while you’re away. They will be happy because they want to take care of the customers, and the customers won’t have to call you and bug you about it personally through the web site.


For larger businesses that have 20 locations or more, it might make sense to have a toll free number to call. But if you’re more of a small family business, as I assume most readers are, there are a lot of low-cost alternatives to a toll-free number and full time operator. Just have your contact information available, answer your emails at least once a day, preferably around 5 or 6 pm. This is when a lot of the hard, lunch time crowd has already come and gone. You can now handle a few complaints, write customers back so that they know you care, and offer most of them free meals or whatever else they need to stay happy. Remember this always: it costs  9 times more to obtain new customers as it does to keep old customers.

Notes and references :

 Notes from Wikipedia 

Churn rate (sometimes called attrition rate), in its broadest sense, is a measure of the number of individuals or items moving out of a collective group over a specific period of time. It is one of two primary factors that determine the steady-state level of customers a business will support. The term is used in many contexts, but is most widely applied in business with respect to a contractual customer base. For instance, it is an important factor for any business with a subscriber-based service model, including mobile telephone networks and pay TV operators. The term is also used to refer to participant turnover in peer-to-peer networks. Churn rate is an important input into customer lifetime value modeling, and can be part of a simulator used to measure Return on Marketing Investment using Marketing Mix Modeling.




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