,Australia

Why KFC believes customer experience ‘should never exceed’ team members’ own

Hear more from SOPAC managing director Richard Wallis at our upcoming conference.

KFC has been vocal about “the experience revolution”, reflective of their belief that brands, including theirs, needed to make changes to suit both the business needs and those of the customer.

For Richard Wallis, the chain’s managing director for South Pacific, this needs to translate beyond the customer’s own.

Wallis joins the QSR Media Conference & Awards’ annual Leaders Panel, happening on October 18, where he and a strong panel of c-suite executives talk about the latest issues and most important topics surrounding the industry today. Click here to register for the event.

More on our Q&A with him below.

QSR Media: What's your assessment of how the QSR/fast casual restaurant industry handled the challenges dealt by COVID-19?
Wallis: Like all industries, everyone needed to adapt quickly. This was new territory for everyone, so there was no playbook anyone could navigate through, and key decisions were needed to be thought of and implemented almost instantly.

At KFC, our priority is to create a workplace where all employees are safe and given the constantly evolving environment of the situation; we relied heavily on the trust of our leaders within the business but also through frequency of communication. There were constant challenges being faced, and talking to team members across the country regularly to provide updates and support was critical to adapting when we had to.

We've also added a significant layer of mental wellbeing support as the pandemic has been challenging for many. We supported our team members through our Employee Assistance Program, but also through some of our Youth Foundation charity partners, including The Black Dog Institute and ReachOut Australia, who provide incredible services to young Australians. Looking after our people during the pandemic from both a safety and mental wellbeing point of view has been our number one priority.

From your perspective, what are some key lessons/insights/trends that brands have learned/further understood/need to know as we approach a post-pandemic industry? 
With the pandemic causing ongoing problems within the industry, brands have needed to enhance what we call 'the experience revolution'. With the number of customers dining in being reduced due to the pandemic, this saw delivery and takeaway orders increase, meaning we needed to make several changes to suit both the business needs and those of the customer.

We're constantly adapting, innovating and evolving to the ever-changing world we're operating in and will continue to do so as we move into new environments. While some of these changes might be reversed over time in the future, many will remain as customer behaviour has evolved. 

We believe that our customer's experience should never exceed that of our team member's experience because when you have happy people, this translates to happy customers, which is why we're constantly looking at what can be adapted. This is a trend the industry has needed to address and will continue to address in the future.

What are you excited to do at this year's virtual QSR Media Conference & Awards?
I'm excited to see all the great work the industry has achieved in these challenging times. There are so many great examples of world-class leading initiatives adapted locally that have revolutionised the industry globally, and I look forward to seeing business leaders showcase these on the day.

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Hundreds of executives in and out of the country also joined the whole-day virtual conference.
This is done in partnership with retail property group Vicinity Centres.
The move is expected to complement the company’s long-term plan in the region.
The chain is giving them away on their official Instagram account from October 12 to 22.
Customers who order four medium-sized coffees will get another one for free.
It is also looking ahead to introduce the range into schools, local gyms, hospitals and other venues.
Ezikitchen is currently accepting new applications from brands to join the venue.
It can measure pedestrian traffic, profile customer movement, and more. 
The chain is initially slated to open 20 outlets in the country and New Zealand.
Three new burgers headline the range.   Milky Lane is celebrating the end of NSW lockdown from October 11 by launching 12 brand new menu items, $10 happy hour cocktails and live DJ sets at all locations.