By Ryan Caldwell, CEO and Founder at MX


I’ve recently started using Chick-fil-A’s mobile app, which allows me to simply tap for my standard order of a breakfast burrito and a medium Coke (I know, I know) and show up at the drive-thru to pick it up.


On my last visit I couldn’t help but ask the person at the drive-thru how sales have been affected by the novel coronavirus. He said that contrary to what traditional sit-down restaurants have seen, their store has seen increased growth, exponential when it came to mobile orders —all as a result of their continuing commitment to the modern way people now want to be served. Because of this demand, they’ve started building multiple displays for mobile-only pickup spots in the parking lot as well as introducing twelve more ordering stations inside the restaurant to add to the three they already had.


I thanked him for the food, which he handed to me in a sterile bag and with sterile gloves (all without me having to hand him my credit card or get a now unnecessary paper receipt).


As I drove off, I saw a worker installing the new displays.


There’s a lesson for banks in all of this. Think of how potentially devastating the coronavirus crisis could be for a restaurant like Chick-fil-A, particularly since they’ve been forced to close down their lobby to those who want to dine inside. Customers could be staying away for fear of catching the virus, and yet despite this they’ve managed to thrive by energizing their mobile and digital strategy — and in the process even cut lobby costs while efficiently serving more people per day.


Chick-fil-A is nailing their digital strategy by focusing on three things: safety, speed, and long-term convenience. First, they’re complying with CDC recommendations by closing their lobbies in an effort to keep their customers safe. Second, they’re moving immediately to optimize their digital processes by making the mobile experience easier and by installing capacity for mobile. Third, they’re creating a new system that they’ll be able to use for years to come (not just during the months of social distancing). As a result, Chick-fil-A is well positioned to outperform the competition indefinitely since more and more people will prefer this new streamlined process compared to the old way of doing business.


The same can be true for financial institutions that take digital initiatives seriously. First, they can (and should) follow CDC precautions to limit branch banking. Second, they must immediately move to optimize their digital presence, ensuring that everything a customer can do in a branch can be done via a digital device or (if absolutely necessary) via an ATM or drive-thru. Third, they should build better processes today that will become a new standard over the long term.


As financial institutions do these three things, they may find that they’ve ultimately built a better experience than what customers knew was possible — just like my recent experience at Chick-fil-A.


During a time when coronavirus is wreaking havoc in the restaurant industry, Chick-fil-a is investing, not retreating, from digital initiatives. It’s a reminder that even as an entire industry is shaken and a lot of businesses are putting on the brakes, there are still ways to thrive financially.


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[For more, read the MX resource library on Covid-19. Also, check out our Easy SBA Portal to reduce the 30-minute PPP application time to approximately 30 seconds.]


Thumbnail photo credit: Brad Stallcup on Unsplash