Human Prototyping Case Study: Chick-fill-A

Recognizing a Need

A few years ago, Chick-fil-A opened an innovation center to help them further strengthen their brand and improve their process of innovation to create new food products and improve their service protocols, market research, communications, and training. They contacted Storyminers with the specific goal of improving the authenticity of conversations within their company and with their customers. Being in a quick service, high-volume industry, they recognized the obstacles to having authentic communications that emotionally connected with their customers.

Early Success

To help improve that authenticity, they asked us to run a number of workshops. They used the first workshop as more of a test run to see if our human prototyping methods would work in their environment. They gave it a try and really liked it. They uncovered customer reactions they didn’t expect, identified better phrasing they could use, and discovered many other valuable insights that their other innovation methods had yet to uncover.

The Benefits of Human Prototyping

After the success of the first workshop, they asked us to return to use human prototyping to improve their drive-thru experience and the results were invaluable. A combination of cardboard, plastic, and lashing together some wheeled chairs were used to create the drive-thru environment. Then we took our actors and their employees through this drive-thru experience numerous times over the course of a couple days, changing the scenario each time. As people placed their orders and moved through the drive-thru, we were able to observe odd behaviors and comments and bring them to light. We could stop the action and ask them why they said or did something or reacted in a particular way. All of this led to many interesting insights. We were able to observe and record people’s emotions, behaviors, and comments, then work with Chick-fil-A to figure out and test improvements to their language, behaviors, signage, processes, and expectations to create an experience that matched the Chick-fil-A brand and helped customers feel a more authentic connection with the company.

In the past, the company would have used a market research firm to find Chick-fil-A customers and bring them into the innovation center. But they found that the customer’s opinions weren’t as real as they needed to be. Using our human prototyping techniques, we were able to help them dig deeper and get more authentic understanding about their customers.

A Proven Solution

Chick-fil-A now has a better awareness of how important observing, understanding, and responding to the emotional needs of their customers is and how it helps them better serve their customers. They’ve come to realize that mixing the theatre arts with business is a worthwhile endeavor and they want to pursue it even further. The process has helped them identify dozens of improvements to make the company more efficient and build more loyal customers. The results were so effective that they came back a third time to have us help them with their menu board options and they are planning a fourth project in the near future.


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