Thank a Chick-fil-A employee for swiftly serving up your order and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get a sunny “my pleasure” in reply, rather than “you’re welcome,” “no problem,” or any other customary response. People have been pointing out (and sometimes parodying) the trend for years. So why do they do it?
The formal-sounding response originated with S. Truett Cathy, who founded the chain back in 1967. One time, while staying in a ritzy hotel, he thanked a staff member and received a heartfelt “my pleasure!” in return. Cathy was touched by the man’s sincerity and, wanting his own customers to feel the same way, soon requested that all his employees—from corporate execs to cashiers—adopt the response.
“You expect that from a five-star hotel,” Cathy said, according to company history. “But to have teenagers in a fast-food atmosphere saying it’s their pleasure to serve—that’s a real head-turner.”
Patrons apparently started writing to Cathy to share how much they appreciated the sentiment behind the catchphrase, and it’s since become a central fixture of Chick-fil-A’s quality service.
Chick-fil-A locations don’t have the same handbook, and certain ones don’t mention "my pleasure" in print. But others do, often citing it as an example of what the chain calls “2nd Mile Service,” which means “going above and beyond customer expectations” [PDF].
“Our goal is that every customer, on every visit, will experience at least one element of 2nd Mile Service,” certain handbooks explain [PDF]. “Many are as simple as a warm welcome, a heartfelt ‘my pleasure’ when the customer thanks us, and a fond farewell as the customer departs.”
As for whether the workers like saying “my pleasure” as much as the customers seem to like hearing it, that depends on whom you ask. In an article for Odyssey, former Chick-fil-A worker Lexi Stroud confessed that she wasn’t a fan. “It took months to stop saying ‘my pleasure’ after I stopped working at Chick-fil-A,” she wrote.
The tradition has also given rise to rumors that Chick-fil-A customers can score free food by uttering “my pleasure” themselves. The details of the purported deal vary, but one especially popular version claims that you have to say the two magic words before your server has a chance to say them. According to a Snopes investigation, none of these rumors is true. And if your server doesn’t say “you’re welcome” at all during your encounter, that won’t win you any free items, either.
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