The restaurant chain may be called Five Guys, but for a certain portion of its customer base, there’s only one guy — known simply as Maez — who stands out.
Last month Maez, whose full name is Maezion Henix and who has been identified only as a “worker” in media coverage, posted a video on the social media platform TikTok. The super-short clip showed how Five Guys’ popular French fries are prepared. This included washing potatoes, pushing them through a slicer and going into a bucket.
Within days, the video had racked up more than 14 million views.
Compare that with the usual generic, animated “explainer” video that often serves as the way brands introduce themselves at the beginning of a customer experience.
Henix (or @maezthegreat as he calls himself on TikTok) didn’t stop there. He has since gone on to post more videos that offer an inside look at making milkshakes, what happens to the grease and more. None of these have reached the same heights of popularity, but we’re still talking hundreds of thousands of views in most cases.
@Five guys #fyp
In interviews published by Yahoo News and elsewhere, Henix offered a different kind of behind-the-scenes reality at Five Guys, including the three things he wishes customers would stop doing:
1. Stop taking up a seat at a table when if you’re ordering takeout, he suggested.
2.Let employees know if you’re a delivery person picking up a meal.
3. Do not take it out frustrations about the menu with the staff.
Although Five Guys could have produced signs or even its own social media posts to communicate these messages, it’s hard to imagine them having the same kind of impact.
Of course, it would be difficult if not impossible for most brands to replicate what Henix has accomplished for Five Guys. This is organic content at its best: created out of genuine passion, without a great deal of attention to production values and, most importantly, without authorization.
By speaking as an individual employee, Henix comes across as far more authentic, more on the same level as his customers.
CX design is often far more intentional and deliberate — and as a result, often winds up overlooking or ignoring what really interests customers.
Five Guys could have created marketing that emphasized its friendly staff and its commitment to fresh cooking, but Henix showed those things, rather than told them to customers. And he showed things that might have been deemed unimportant (like its French fry process) or inappropriate (grease disposal).
I doubt Five Guys ever asked Henix to make these TikToks, but they don’t seem to have muzzled him once they went viral. They let him do the interviews. In doing so, the chain has enhanced its relationship with possibly millions of customers or potential customers.
More brands than ever realize they need to listen to the “voice of the customer” and even the voice of the employee. When they focus on the latter, though, I think it’s usually to understand any gripes and to keep them internal. If they can somehow make employees feel more engaged, great.
What if, instead, CX design is also about encouraging employees to harness their voice and to share it externally — in a way that resonates with customers and helps them better appreciate the experience the brand wants to offer?
How many Maez the Greats are toiling away in your organization, with a point of view or insight that could provide that kind of value? Without coercing them into anything, how can you set up an environment that makes them feel safe in offering greater visibility into your mission, vision and values?
This might not be a core element of your CX strategy, but it might be a very welcome accompaniment to it. Kind of like a side dish of really good French fries.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.