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The Power List
Khalilah Cooper is director of service and hospitality at Chick-fil-A.

Chick-fil-A’s Khalilah Cooper fuels growth with mobile-ordering, delivery technology that boosts speed and hospitality

Meet the technology innovators on Nation's Restaurant News' 2020 Power List

Chick-fil-A had a good year.

The quick-service chicken in 2019 became the third-largest U.S. restaurant chain last year, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks, riding its fifth year of double-digit sales growth. It also expanded its technology investments with new mobile ordering options and a high-profile spot in DoorDash’s Silicon Valley ghost kitchen.

Key to that growth was a focus on two things that have always been the brand’s secret sauce: hospitality and lightning-fast service.

Also behind those moves: Khalilah Cooper.

powerlist_banner_20202.jpgDirector of service and hospitality since 2018, Cooper has been in charge of most of the customer-service initiatives in both drive-thru and third-party delivery.

Cooper holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and previously worked at Johnson & Johnson as a research scientist and at the consulting agency McKinsey before joining Chick-fil-A in 2013. It was here that she began to take her consumer research and marketing skills to the restaurant space.

Her Chick-fil-A career began in digital, so it’s no surprise that in the year and a half that Cooper has been in her current position, technology has become a central focus of the 60-year-old brand.

What was Cooper’s greatest achievement this year? Investing in innovation, she told NRN.

In fact, the brand rented a space in DoorDash Kitchens, a shared commissary kitchen opened and operated by DoorDash in Silicon Valley. The only national chain to participate in the ghost kitchen, Chick-fil-A uses DoorDash for delivery services across the country and Cooper’s team continues to make the delivery and drive-thru experiences more seamless for customers.

In 2019, this included the introduction of the mobile app’s “Dine-In Mobile Ordering” feature where customers can order on their mobile device through the app while in stores, skipping lines and having their order delivered to their table.

When guests enter a restaurant, they can place an order through the Chick-fil-A app. After completing the order, the guest taps his or her mobile device on a number displayed on the table. Using short-range wireless technology, order is paired to the table making it easy for an employee to delivery the meal to the guest.

“So many of our customers’ busy lives and commitments have them strapped for time,” Khalilah Cooper, Chick-fil-A director of service and hospitality, said in a statement. “This technology will be particularly helpful for busy parents who can now head straight into the restaurant and have their meal brought to their table at their convenience, without waiting in line.”

The chain has experimented with a variety of technologies designed to improve the guest experience. One such test included Kallpod, a touch-button call service that allows dine-in customers to order more food after they’ve paid for their initial order at the counter.  The technology features a three-button system with these requests: “I want the manager,” “I want service” and “I want to order something else.”

Chick-fil-A, which as more than 2,400 U.S. locations, had domestic systemwide sales of $10.5 billion in the Latest Year, up 16.7% year over year, according to NRN’s Top 200 database.

Contact Holly at [email protected]

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